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Stolen Title Tag - Is this theft?
Competitors seem to be using my titles
Total Paranoia

 3:53 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have written a title that have contains a good range of keywords but still make sense to the user when read. The chosen title helped the website to rank highly on a good range of competitive phrases all relating to my market.

So to get to the point, others have started using this title on their sites - and it gets me a little annoyed.

It is really frustrating when you work hard producing good original content and think up good relevant titles only to see others copy & paste it into their code. What I cannot work out is, why would people want to be ranked below another site using the same title? IMO it looks unprofessional anyway.

Is this theft? Do I have the same rights over my titles as I do on the actual page content (which is also regularly stolen by others)

I guess that this would be virtually impossible to enforce legally but what would you do? Are we all at risk of having our titles reused?



 3:57 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

No, not unless there are words that are trademarked in the title. Then you can only do something if it is not used as a comparison.


 4:48 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ha, welcome to my world, not only titles, but descriptions, navigation schemas and even site heirarchy. The only consolation is still ranking above them, because they can't steal everything now can they? (i.e. specific links with strategic partners, vendors, trademarked names that convert the best, etc).


 11:20 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's actually quite rare for someone to duplicate the tags of the top place company and then beat them with their own tags. I know tens of thousands must try but I've never actually heard of it working for anyone.

The content is still king imo, tags play only a small part of things these days.



 2:36 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've had a competitor in a very niche market copy my code from about 20 optimised pages, change the links to point to their site, change the graphics and then upload it as their own.

I can tell its my code as the keywords I have optimised for are still in the exact same order across the bottom of the pages, and get this... they have even left my code comments in the code!

I've only just discovered this and to say im pissed off is an understatement, im still considering what to do or if there is anything I can do!?

Any suggestions?


 2:46 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Davejs, you might check some of the "stole my site" discussions in the Content forum, like two recent ones:


 3:37 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I had a company steal almost all of my content from my webpage. I emailed them a cease and desist letter that threatened law suit. Even if you don't have a leg to stand on, just the threat of a law suit might get them to back off.

hope this helps.


 3:52 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Copyright is automatic - it is a fallacy that you need to claim it. However, stating 'this is copyright 200#' does at least indicate that you are aware of your 'copy rights' and may defend them.

The stealing of a large body of text is definitely a copyright infringement - but a title?

Technically it may be an infringement, but it would be extremely difficult to prove. A no hoper in my opinion.

Hardwood Guy

 6:20 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just has a site take a dozen pages from me word for word including images. You'd think they would rename them..but no. They claimed they were unaware and said the pages will be removed ASAP. Title tags..it happens


 7:35 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

hat I cannot work out is, why would people want to be ranked below another site using the same title?

Let's say you're number one in the SERPS, and the competitor of yours is #9. Even if they didn't get ranked above you, #2 would get them a lot more clicks than being #9.

Are we all at risk of having our titles reused?

At this point and time : yes. Some of the engines are working on identifying multiple content (the same title, description, etc on multiple pages), but there are still flaws since the engines have no way of telling who to penalize for the stolen content.


 7:40 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Titles can not be copyrighted.

None of the following are protected under US copyright law:

"Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents"

You can find out everything you'd ever want to know about copyright at [copyright.gov...]


 7:43 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

>or coloring

Google seems to disagree, so do I.

Maybe the term we are looking for is "passing off"?


 7:55 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

What about someone putting your whole url in their site
description? I've had a few do that to me.


 8:23 pm on Dec 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google disagrees because the name is also a logo and it and it's layout are trademarked. Remember varya was talking about copyright, not trademark!


 12:22 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

what about lists?

Say someone compiles a list of links of websites, if someone copies my list is that illegal?


 12:24 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ha, welcome to my world, not only titles...

No kidding... I've had multil-mil companies steal entire websites and modify them like a 3 year might have done it.

DMCA works. Embarrassment threat works if they are well known enough, and you are well connected too.

Otherwise, like said earlier in the thread, they likely won't beat you with it. It hasn't happened to me yet, but I do know that it can be done from things I've seen.


 12:34 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Remember varya was talking about copyright, not trademark!

You can trademark colours?


 12:39 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Didn't IBM trademark "Blue"?



 1:19 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> Didn't IBM trademark "Blue"? <<

Seriously. I work for Sprint and one of the things I remember from back when I started is how they pointed out the color red in the Sprint logo is trademarked as "Sprint Red" and nobody else can use it. I'm like, c'mon guys it's just red!


 2:06 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

They were pulling your leg. I just looked. There's no "Sprint Red" in the US trademark database. The logo itself though most likely is trademarked. We get some weird lawsuits here, but I doubt any court would ever support someone trying to prevent others from using a specific shade of a color.


 3:30 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

not that strange at all about IBM and Sprint.

As I know the dutch telecom company (KPN) uses 1 specific color of green and trademarked that color as their own.

They even send their own ink to the newspaper companies to print their advertisements in the newspaper.

I am wondering if they are charged extra for the extra work or get discount for providing the ink :)


 9:57 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hehe didn't know that about KPN ( looking at their HQ right know )


 9:57 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can trademark wierd things like colours in the UK, too. But not a general coverage, so someone cannot just trademark yellow. But BT could have trademarked yellow with regard to printing a book for looking up business contacts or phone numbers, so other books have to be a different colour. But that wouldn't stop someone producing a yellow book about cooking.

They didn't trademark the yellow pages colour, and now they've sold it on, they are going to re-release their own variety again.

I believe copying a title tag may be to little for the copyright legislation. Remember, we can use short snippets of articles without seeking consent (I can't remember how much). The UK TV channels can use up to thirty seconds of another channels broadcast before they have to pay them, this allows them to report news items about other channels, for example. But they (or we) must state where the source was from. On TV, it often has 'Courtesy of ITV' or 'Courtesy of BBC' in little letters on the screen. Now, that is something that they have not done.

Of course, all the above is UK law, which is very similar to US law for trademark and copyright issues, but there are some differences.


 10:52 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I must admit the trademark and copyright issues are long when it comes to the WWW, I have successfully had my content removed from many sites but for every site that I have a win, there are another 10 sites that I have made no progress on, the first time I ever did a company name search, I found 12 sites that had not only had my title but the source code it was almost word for word, the only difference was the text was changed to the background color and the images where there own.

Even if you where to press and drag your mouse pointer over the page every thing was there, yes even my company name and information was there.

I am still have not made much progress with most of the companies, but I know two of them have changed there coding, (not by much thou).

The biggest anger I have experienced in the last 4 weeks was when I found one of the companies is now #1 on google with my content after the latest update. After many letters, emails and phone calls I still have made no progress with the company in question, the next step I suppose is for me to remove the text myself or redirect the web address to the real creator ME.

And see if I get a response


PS. I an unrelated question does anyone know how to hack a website


 11:04 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

The biggest anger I have experienced in the last 4 weeks was when I found one of the companies is now #1 on google with my content after the latest update. After many letters, emails and phone calls I still have made no progress with the company in question

I always trace the domain to their host and email their host with the subject "violation of copyright on one of your hosted web sites" and then explain that I have found my material (pics etc) on the site and it is in clear violation of my copyright. I have had to do this a dozen times and in half the cases it resulted in the web site being pulled down because they either couldn't get hold of them or they wouldn't take it off.

Web hosts take copyright theft very seriously because they can become liable if nothing is down about it. Most try to deal with it within 48 hours, they treat it that serious.

I've had one client (tourism) that I did a web site for and he refused to pay me. He set up a new web site using MY site. It was exactly my site right down to my images and meta tags which still had my company name on them. The client managed to blag his host to keep it on so I was told there was nothing I could do about it... WRONG! later that day I registered a www.******hell.com and uploaded the site I created on to it a submitted it everywhere explaining that the company didn't pay us and he stole my work. If you found his site you also found my site.

Guess who paid up :)



 11:52 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Here's what I do:

1.) Every month pick a unique long phrase from your site and do a search on google.

2.) You get a suprising list of sites who have stolen your words. (e.g. I get 5-10).

3.) Find the host name and email address of the culprits.

4.) Email the owners with somthing like this:

Your website has content copied from our website (www.mysite.com). We can prove our content is original using www.archive.org. Example of copied content on your site: .... Please remove any and all content copied from our website. If not removed soon we will:
a.) Report your site copyright violation to the major search engines.
b.) Report your site copyright violation to your site host (theirhost.com).
c.) Take legal action.

5.) If they do not remove the copied content start with a and b.

I don't worry about whether the search engines, host, lawyer etc will do what I want. If they know they have copied my work the prospect of being reported (with evidence) to the search engines and their host is usually enough.


 12:39 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)


You can trademark colours?

Try this:
1. set up a website making heavy use of the color magenta.
2. use phrases like "T-Something" or "T-anotherThing" on the site.

Wait for one of the biggest German companies to rip your skin off your bones ;)


 1:52 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Have just registered to reply to this topic. So hi all. :-)

I agree with kapow on the course of action. A few sites out there have stolen content from myself and clients and the first thing we always do is contact them, then if that doesn't work their ISP. Inform the ISP that one of their customers is hosting illegal (stolen) content and if they don't remove you'll take action against them. So far have found that the site is generally taken down in a couple of days. This is with content though and not keywords or titles.

Somebody from the UK mentioned copyright on colours. Well there's a company (I forget the name, dyna-something) that has copyright on the colour on their fleet of vans. It's a bright lurid orange and will give you a headache if you stare at it for too long. I would think this stands as it's a custom colour that they've come up with. I doubt that you could copyight #FF0000 ;-)



 2:11 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Got it. There is a company, and they have trademarked a color.

That was bugging me, plus I'm bored... ;-)


[edited by: agerhart at 2:13 pm (utc) on Dec. 16, 2003]
[edit reason] Please read the TOS. No URL Drops [/edit]


 5:27 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

1) Colors can be Patented along with Fonts as they are a 'unique invention' hence the Sprint Red.

2) Lists, maps, recipes etc can not be copyrighted, BUT it still is a copyright violation to exactly copy someone's unique list. IE a cook book. Also the descriptions of a recipe have copyright protection. Also many map makers, list compilers insert a fake island/city/name or something to determine if someone copies their work exactly.

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