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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

This 44 message thread spans 2 pages: 44 ( [1] 2 > >     
Copyright Nightmare & Ebay
sharing lessons to those writing content
alika

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 3:32 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

We develop quality content for our niche, and our content has been syndicated to top tier websites. However, we found -- through a person who sent an email in our Contact Us form -- that there is a seller on ebay selling our articles.

We set up a buyer ID and bought an article from the seller. True enough, it is our article written by one of our writers that this seller is offering for auction. Word for word, without attribution to us or to the writer. And boy, we never imagined it was a hot item: I bought the article with 47 (out of 50) left and the following day I checked again only 4 were left available for sale. It took only 3 days for the seller to sell off the 50 items he offered.

We contacted ebay through their VERO program (Verified Rights Owner program). Basically, you need to provide proof that you are indeed the owner of the content/product. You fill out their Notice of Copyright Infringement form and fax it to them. After 2 days of emailing back and forth, we were accepted into the program. Seller had only 1 item left by then, but ebay removed his listing and sent a warning that the copyright owner has complained that the item for sale infringes on the copyright. We were quite happy with how ebay responded to our claim, and the swiftness of their actions.

Those who write content, I strongly suggest that you periodically check ebay to see if any of your publications are being offered for sale there. It's very frustrating to find your work up for sale by someone else who even has the temerity to place their own copyright notice on your work.

 

JeremyL

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 3:57 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's a first for me, I didn't even reaalize people sold such things on ebay. What categories would an article be listed in to keep an eye on? I looked but couldn't find any articles or content being sold.

alika

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 4:05 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I sell on ebay, but collectibles and jewelry, and not anything connected with our website. Never even thought to check if our articles are up for sale.

We found our articles in the Nonfiction Book category (seller was offering our 6-page article on this topic). Search for the title of your articles to see if anything comes up.

EileenC

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 4:36 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Geez, what next? What do you do now about the buyers who bought it? They've purchased stolen goods ... so what happens? Will they be able to get their money back? Can you get damages from the guy who sold it on ebay?

alika

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 4:50 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ebay by itself does not have any program where you can get damages for the sale of your own product. They will direct you to the legal system. All they provide is the VERO system where rightful copyright & trademark owners can protect their claims within ebay. Per ebay, it's between the seller and the copyright owner.

Ebay will (a) remove the offending listing from their database; (b) send out an email to all current buyers/bidders of the item that the item was removed from the system. The email will tell the bidder/buyers that the listing was removed by eBay because a Verified Right Owner (VeRO) Program participant notified eBay that the listing potentially infringes its copyright. Then it goes on to say that ebay strongly urges the bidder/buyers not to complete this transaction. Not sure though if the seller will be slapped with a warning.

I actually contacted the seller, and he maintains that he bought resale rights to our article. We've never dealt with him, and he never approached us regarding permission to profit from our own work. He apologized and said he will refrain from selling the piece again. I will still have to check the other articles he has up for sale, as some titles are curiously similar to ours.

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 4:56 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

On the bright side, alika, it looks like you've discovered that your product will sell like hotcakes on eBay! ;)

pleeker

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 5:02 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Those who write content, I strongly suggest that you periodically check ebay to see if any of your publications are being offered for sale there.

Yikes. Thanks for the heads up, alika.

<scampers off to eBay.....>

ogletree

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ogletree us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 5:08 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

You he is just creating a new ebay ID and selling them again but now changing them up a little so it is harder for you to find them. That is how these guys work.

alika

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 5:18 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

So true. In our case, it seems that he is creating a "brand" for his business. He already has 600+ feedback and has signed up for an Ebay store with his business name, so he has some cache in his username. But it would be so easy to change the username.

Ebay has a feature that alerts you if listings based on your favorite search words are made. So we made sure that we use that to the fullest.

It is good to know that our articles are selling like "hotcakes" on ebay. But we're still debating whether we: (a) actually sell on ebay and what impact it will have on the brand we are trying to establish; and (b) sell the items but using a different name from our site. My partner is actually looking at option (b) but we haven't made a decision as yet

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 6:11 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Somewhere around here, I read a post by someone who was suing an ebay seller for selling their copywritten software under their own label. Perhaps it is time to call a lawyer.

Robino

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 6:31 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)


On the bright side, alika, it looks like you've discovered that your product will sell like hotcakes on eBay! ;)

That's what I'm thinkin'! My wife is a writer, I've got to have her look into this.

Don't you love catching people doing this kind of stuff? I actually look forward to finding my images or copy on someone else's site.

JonR28

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 7:37 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I remember seeing my copywrighted material on someone's t-shirt in a mall and having to go ask the person where they got the shirt from because it was a stolen design. That wasn't so fun.

outland88

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 3:30 am on May 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

E-Bayís Vero program is one of the better programs for protecting your copyrights. Click Bank and 1st Shopping are also respectful in regards to copyrighted works.

The worst people to deal with, and theyíre owned by E-Bay, is Pay Pal. Pay Pal are a pure nightmare to deal with. They create their own version of the "take down" requirements of the DMCA. If you deal with them let them know you meet the specific requirements of the DMCA not the conditioned version of Pay Pal. Pay Pal has simply no respect for federal law.

digitalv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 3:55 am on May 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

alika,

Congratulations on how you handled the situation, that is a great FIRST step but it's not the end. Now that a third party (eBay) has validated your ownership, it's time to take it to the next level.

Send the seller an invoice for use of your content, demanding 100% of what each item sold for. If he sold 500 copies of your article for say $10 a piece, then he owes you $5,000. Let him know that if he DOESN'T pay this little "licensing fee" of yours, that you'll be going after him for copyright infringement. Do this through certified mail on a company letterhead, not through e-mail.

Stopping him down is not enough, you did the work and you deserve the profit from it.

Teshka

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 5:39 am on May 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thank you for the heads up. That's something I wouldn't have thought to look for, but I'll be on the watch now!

raptorix

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 7:41 am on May 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

We run a fansite about a certain music label, when we checked new releases on the official website we noticed that they used a part of our site design on the cover of the latest release of one of their main artists! We called the office and asked for explination, the directly investigated the case. After 1 hour they called back, and told us that the designer thought we where an offcial website of the record company. Not strange because our website has by far the most proffesional look compared with the official website. Weeks before we had almost an identical situation when the german website took over some biographys, because they also thought we where official ;)

notsosmart

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 12:02 am on May 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Copyright infringement is serious issue for us.

We live off our content, which does well in both the selling area and the SEO area. Consequently, people steal it all the time.

I have written so many cease and desist notices that it has started to cut into my productivity (as has lurking here lol).

I am now thinking to just let it go. But if I do, it'll just encourage those who steal, to steal more.

GRRRR!

ogletree

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ogletree us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 12:20 am on May 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

The internet is a seedy business. It is still the wild west for the most part. Everybody is out to make a quick buck. There are a lot of quick bucks to be made so it attrackes a certain kind of person. As long as their is a way to make money at something people will try to do it. Ebay and Adsens are the 2 big money makers out there. I have had my hand in both. I have run into all kinds of people in the industry.

outland88

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 4:14 pm on May 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Letís get into some more specifics in this thread. What businesses arenít required to abide by the DMCA?

Another thing I would like to point out is even though one should always seek the advice of a competent lawyer regarding blatant infringement, remember these arenít contingency cases. Many of the offenders will also hide behind aliases and servers that donít reveal their identities. Ergo, you may want to sue but youíll never catch up with the offenders, some are out of country, and some simply donít intend to show for court. This further wastes your time and money.

I also would like to point out that it is rare that you have an exact duplicate except with music and movies. If the work is a substantial similarity its still copyright infringement.

wackybrit

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 11:36 am on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bear in mind this dodgy seller might have been telling the truth. He may have believed he bought resale rights from someone, and that 'someone' is the real big cookie you want to catch. I've seen a lot of rather weird resale rights being sold or given away on the Internet which I doubt people had the right to do, over the years.

digitalv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 1:08 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bear in mind this dodgy seller might have been telling the truth. He may have believed he bought resale rights from someone, and that 'someone' is the real big cookie you want to catch. I've seen a lot of rather weird resale rights being sold or given away on the Internet which I doubt people had the right to do, over the years.

This is also a common excuse used by content thieves. Incidentally, they can never seem to remember who they bought the content from or how they paid for it. Ignorance is no excuse ... it is your responsibility as the buyer to make sure that the person you're buying from has the rights to sell the content. This means you have to do a copyright search - if a copyright exists and the copyright owner matches the person selling you the information then it's a safe bet as long as your license to redistribute is in writing. If no copyright exists or it's not, then you're playing with fire.

There are VERY FEW authors who sell their information with full resale rights. Usually the people who do that have compiled content they've stolen from the web and in an effort to make as many sales as possible before they're shut down will offer resale rights to the buyer. They don't care if the content gets pirated and the more people that buy it, the easier it is for them to make the excuse that they were a victim too.

alika

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 2:39 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

The work is a word-for-word copy. The ebay seller did not even attempt to paraphrase. Same paragraphs, same headings, same everything.

He said that he bought the resale rights from someone selling CDs in a flea market. When asked who that person is, he said that he does not know (a) what company sold it to him; and (b) the name of the person who sold him the CD. Just that he bought it in a flea market. Kind of hard to force someone to spill the beans even though the CD would definitely contain some information on the creator of the CD. But he won't devulge the info.

All he did was to promise never ever to sell our article again -- a promise that he is keeping as we are constantly monitoring his items for sale. Of course, he is selling other articles still. If it's not from us, definitely it's from someone else.

digitalv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 2:43 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

You should still press charges. Even if he could prove that he THOUGHT he bought resale rights from someone else doesn't make it legal. This is an excuse thieves give because they assume no one will press charges againt the "victim".

Prove him wrong ... send a formal demand TODAY that he turns over 100% of the revenue he's generated by selling your work (and do your best to estimate this number by looking at his ebay history). If he doesn't comply, see if a judge will buy his story. A court would rule in your favor - even if what he said were 100% true, it's still YOUR content and YOU didn't authorize it so you get 100% of the cash.

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 4:34 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd sue. Sorry, but the "I bought it from a flea market" doesn't really fly well. I've been to quite a few flea markets and I have to say, I have seen very few dealers hawking do it yourself cd copies. That's something you see sold on eBay, but then it would be way too easy to track that down, eh?

He's lying. I would bet on it.

KeywordROI

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 6:09 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Vow. People buy articles which are available for free everywhere on the web!

outland88

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 7:25 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

>The work is a word-for-word copy. The ebay seller did not even attempt to paraphrase. Same paragraphs, same headings, same everything.

You're lucky on that. Except for CD's and copies of movies most of the time you don't get exact duplicates. With books or text you tend to get substantial similarities. Most thieves will alter a few areas, rearrange the order, and think they havenít violated a copyright. The experienced oneís donít plan to show up for court anyway. They want you to expense your time and money and quite a few attorneys are the same way. Just because a man or woman hangs an attorney shingle on his door doesnít mean they arenít sharks also. Before you contact anybody always make sure you have multiple copies of everything. Donít be slighted by one offense, multiple offenses are icing on the cake. It always good to show you bent over backwards before slapping someone with a lawsuit.

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 8:17 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Letís get into some more specifics in this thread. What businesses arenít required to abide by the DMCA?

Those outside US juristiction.

It is not a business in the standard sense, but any US state is also free from copyright prosecution thanks to the 11th amendment.

Then there are those that are useless targets. Try collecting from a disabled veteran where 100% of his income is from his VA check. You would never be able to collect.

remember these arenít contingency cases.

If your target has deep enough pockets, and can't hide, they will often be on contigency. Most of those companies are not the sorts that get into wanton copyright infringment though.

If the work is a substantial similarity its still copyright infringement.

That is a little off-base. It largely depends on which circuit your copyright suit is filed in whether "substantial similarity" will help you. And you still have to show copying. If we both take pictures of the Nisqually Glacier on Mt. Rainier, from the bridge downstream, at the same time and with the same disposable cameras, they will be substantially similar, but that does not mean that they are copies. No copying = no case.

Bear in mind this dodgy seller might have been telling the truth. He may have believed he bought resale rights from someone,

That simply does not matter. Does he have transfer of those specific rights, to those specific works, spelled out in writing, with a chain of transfer of those rights going back to the original copyright holder?

The copyright code is quite clear that the transfer needs to be in writing. And the courts have made it clear that the writing has to be clear also. It doesn't have to be complex, but it needs to be clear.

And even if he thinks he bought distribution rights, removing the copyright notice, or modifying the work is not one of the rights that were purchased. Removing the copyright, in fact, is one of the things that will change it from simple infringement, which is a civil action, into a criminal action. You said that there was no attibution, but you didn't say whether or not there was a copyright notice on the original.

Kind of hard to force someone to spill the beans even though the CD would definitely contain some information on the creator of the CD. But he won't devulge the info.

If he violated any of the criminal parts of the copyright code, get in touch with the US attorneys office. Barring that, you can file a local suit, which would force him to turn over the CD to you as part of discovery. And he would not like the results of not turning it over.

alika

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 10:40 am on May 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is a copyright notice at the bottom of each page of the site on each article page -- this one included. Plus we put this up at the bottom of the article, above our footer navigation:

All materials contained in this site are the copyrighted property of XXX. To reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit, modify, distribute or publicly perform or display material from this site, you must first obtain written permission from XXX. You may view and download material from this site for your personal, non-commercial use only. †Contact us for reprint or purchase of this article

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 5:33 pm on May 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Let me get this straight. EBay basically cancelled the sale but not the seller's membership? 600 Feedbacks. I assume 600 good feedbacks? But stolen content. So he can sell 1000 more times? And only has to stop his auctions whenever the person that he stole from catches him and informs ebay? Very convenient for ebay.

What does it take to get kicked off of ebay? Hmmm. Maybe someone should steal EBay's content and sell it. Maybe that would be enough.

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 785 posted 5:38 pm on May 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

That sounds pretty blatant. I'd at least look into going after him.

This 44 message thread spans 2 pages: 44 ( [1] 2 > >
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