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Adwords & Copyright theft
Competitor stole our site and now uses Adwords
The Grizzler

 6:12 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

We have a site with about 2000 pages. This site was copied entirely word for word, image for image by a local competitor. We asked him to change his site and although some of it has, there are still over 200 main pages that this guy has stolen.

Not only do we appear to have dropped considerably in G's index (by 10's of pages), this parasite is now advertising against us on Adwords.

We wrote to him yesterday and asked him to change the pages (yet again)... today he's increased his cpc to depose us from the #1 positon. Although we have now commenced legal proceedings against him, the Adwords team tell us they cannot do anything about this.

I know that we can get his urls removed from G's index when successful in suing him but his position on Adwords is without doubt affecting the credibility of both our sites.

I called the guy today to point this out and he put the phone down.

We spent more than $250K on Adwords last year yet apparently they can do nothing to help.

Surely not?



 7:08 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just goes to show it does not always pay to advertise



 7:43 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is not a real area of expertise for me, The Grizzler, but let me take a look into it and see what I can discover.

I'll post again in a bit. :)



 7:57 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I wonder what role web hosting companies can have in detecting and stopping such blatant copyright infringement and intellectual property crimes.

Please AWA let us know what is going on


 8:09 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

OK, I've been pinging those 'more expert than myself', and got lucky. I literally found the right person on the first attempt, and I hope the info below will prove to be useful.

Please follow the link below for information regarding steps that Google can take under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Although this document does not specifically mention ad text, I am reasonably sure that it can be covered as well.

Therefore, having read the doc, if you decide to file a 'notice of infringement' with us, please be sure to included details regarding the advertising side of thing - i.e., at the minimum, the complete ad text(s) in question, including the Display URL(s).

Please see here: [google.com...]

There is also a fax number to which you may send your information, which is not included in the document. I'll be happy to post this fax number, if given the OK by a mod. MODS?.

I hope this helps, The Grizzler, and best of luck.



 8:24 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I wonder what role web hosting companies can have in detecting and stopping such blatant copyright infringement and intellectual property crimes.

Please AWA let us know what is going on

donpps, I'm sorry to say that this is not really a topic about which I can speak with any authority at all. And when that's the case, I usually think it best to say as little as possible.

Less chance of being horribly wrong that way! ;)

I'm betting that a few expertly worded searches on Google or Google News would get you good current info, though. :)

(Uh Oh, was that self promotion?!)


The Grizzler

 8:33 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

AWA - Many Thanks indeed. It's nice to know someone cares :)

If the mods don't let you post the fax number please sticky mail me if possible.

I've read quite a bit on WW forums about copyright infringement and their is much useful information out there, so thanks all.

donpps - We telephoned his hosting company yesterday and they were very dismissive of the whole issue. We were told our fax would be passed to their solicitors. They were not interested.

I would love to post their url so all of you out there that work very hard could avoid doing business with them.

The Grizzler

 9:42 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

AWA - I've read the link you posted in detail and it would appear that Google will only take action on the pages that show up for the same search results.

The problem with this is that we do that badly in G at the moment that it's going to be difficult to supply enough information. We have dropped out of the rankings altogether for some keywords. Not a problem on Yahoo, MSN or Jeeves. We do very well on all keywords. (The other guy is directly below us on nearly all serps.)

Our main concern with G is Adwords and the fact that it may no longer be a cost effective medium for us whilst this guy is allowed to continue his campaigns. The Adwords team told us that they have no policy in place to deal with this unless the actual text of the Ad breaches our copyright, which it does not.

It seems that copyright issues are extremely prevolent at the moment so should Adwords have a stricter policy on this? At the end of the day I am certain that we will stop this guy some time soon but what happens when the next parasite comes along?

Something must be done.


 9:55 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

FYI - you can file a DMCA complaint against the webhosting company - they usually act once it worded officially.

The Grizzler

 10:12 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks PatrickDeese. We are actually UK based and so is the other guy. His website is hosted on a US server although the the company is registered in the UK.

Is the DMCA relevant here?


 10:20 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Had that done to me too, just with adsense... copied my 2000 page of hard earned unique content and changed only the adsense code. How did I find it? He left me personal name in the privacy policies, jsut flipped the domain name with a global search and replace. Even the affiliate links were still mine. That, and the fact that I wouldn't even know were to begin to complain about this to google kept me from takling action.

Since this seems to be so prevalent, and financially supported by google, it is tempting to think that it's smart business to do that yourself...


The Grizzler

 10:35 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Kilroy, you have our sympathy. We have been developing our site for over 12 months and to have someone come along and steal it is sickening. We too have put many long days and nights into our work.

I have just been reading the following article:

In particular have a look at the Contributory Infringement section. I think that G Adwords falls into this category.

We made them aware of this problem yesterday. I will be speaking to them again on Monday morning and pointing out their responsibilities.


 10:44 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Also, here is a great information thread from the content & copyright forum:


 11:05 pm on Sep 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

> His website is hosted on a US server

The DMCA - is US law - so you can definitely force a US hosted site to comply.

If he switches web hosting to Russia, or China or some other country with less than sterling enforcement of IP - you are pretty much SOL - however, it is my understanding that you can force the domain name registrar to take action if the host and/or company is non-US - assuming that they aren't using a non-foreign TLD domain name.

based on my very limited understanding of US law as it applies to this type of situation.


 2:20 am on Sep 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

One of my clients had a problem with a competitor copying his copyrighted stuff and advertising it via Adwords. I explained to the client how to do the DMCA filing with Adwords, and Adwords quickly investigated and took the competitor offline. Kudos for Adwords.

The Grizzler

 7:58 am on Sep 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks all.

cline - did your friend take issue with Adwords or directly with G?

Having read all the info posted I would imagine that as I notified Adwords on Thursday (and was told they could do nothing) Google are now not covered by the "Safe Harbor Provisions" of the DMCA and neither are his hosting company.

AWA - That fax number would be timely...

The Grizzler

 12:30 pm on Sep 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Found the fax numbers!

Have just sent a long fax to both Google HQ in CA and their European HQ in Dublin.

Will let you know what happens...


 1:39 pm on Sep 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Maybe a long shot, but if the ISP won't do anything about it, perhaps try going upstream a step and complaining to their feed? i.e. find out who owns the IP address (probably not their ISP) and filing a complaint with them.


 7:05 pm on Sep 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

The Grizzler, the client went to Adwords about the Adwords that were for copyright-infringing products. Adwords took the ads down quickly. The client also went to G about indexing the pages of the infringing products. These were also de-indexed reasonably promptly.

The client had sent communications to the copyright infringer before, that were ignored. This got their attention. They've removed from their inventory all products infringing on my client's copyright.

The Grizzler

 8:33 pm on Sep 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks cline. :)

Our main priority is Adwords at the moment as our pages have plummetted in G's index since this guy duplicated them.

Interestingly if you search on Yahoo you find that most of his pages are directly below ours. We have many high ranking keywords on Yahoo so this guy is enjoying this free source of traffic too.

I haven't heard back from G yet and the guy is still advertising on Adwords so I will presume that it will be Monday at the earliest before we get any action.

His hosting company has not replied to their correspondence yet and I don't think they will. I am going to discuss the possibility of taking action against them with our solicitor on Monday. I would imagine they are now acting illegally also.

Wheel - Our solicitor is a specialist in copyright matters (particularly on the net) so we will ask about what can be done via the network. As the other guy's site is on a US server I would imagine the network too have responsibilities under the DMCA.

As we notified G Adwords by telephone on Thursday of this, I wonder if they too are breaching the DMCA?


 1:45 am on Sep 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

The main advantage of DMCA is that the main SEs are US based. If your copyright text appears in any SERP, the SE will act on your complaint.

Get him out of the SERPs and that will hurt him more than the solicitor letters, which he can ignore for a little while and try and get some revenue in the meantime.

Google (organic) acts very quickly. AdSense may ignore your complaint other than sending a form reply, as was my experience last year. Their rules are tighter now, so who knows.

The Grizzler

 9:09 pm on Sep 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks anallawalla. It sounds like we should be able to get things moving fairly quickly.

Looks like we will have a busy few days ahead of us. This guy is going to be sorry he didn't take his pages down when he had the chance.

In light of the fact that he's actually increased his campaigns on Google Adwords after we sent our last two emails should perhaps seal his fate.

Anyone know if we can do anything via nominet either before or after we sue him?

The Grizzler

 7:09 am on Sep 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ok here's an update.

We spoke to Google Adwords yesterday and were advised to send an email to adwords support in CA. We've just received what looks like a standard reply to complaints about trademark issues.


Our issue is that Google is promoting a site that has copied ours.

As stated earlier we spent over $250K on Adwords last year and we get a "copied and pasted" reply that is completely off topic...



 9:00 am on Sep 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I know this is frustrating and costly for you, but if my business had a $250k advertising budget, I wouldn't hesitate to contract an intellectual property attorney for expert representation in the matter.

This is your business - not a hobby - and it may come down to a law suit in federal court to protect you from this kind of low-life activity. As is, your competitor could very well be costing you a fortune with nothing preventing him, legally, from doing so.

The Grizzler

 6:04 pm on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, we are one week on from first bringing the issue up and nothings changed.

Google have had a Notice of Infrigement fax and so have Google Adwords. We have wrote to both help and abuse email addresses at Google also sent one to Google Adwords too.

Interestingly we had a reply stating that thanked us for our "Trademark Infringement" enquiry. Obviously a cut and paste response.

I really thought that Google was hot on this sort of thing.

Meantime this joker is still displaying our work and advertising it on Google too!


 11:44 pm on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you spent $250K on Adwords, then you should have a dedicated rep. Get them on the issue to speed things up.


 12:02 am on Sep 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

"The main advantage of DMCA is that the main SEs are US based. If your copyright text appears in any SERP, the SE will act on your complaint."

The other advantage to filing DMCA complaints is that you have added proof, if/when the issue needs to go to court. Though some respond considerably faster than others - it's always nice to have a 'third-party' agreeing with your claim.

The Grizzler

 8:48 am on Sep 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am sure that we would have received a faster response if we had our own rep.

We made enquiries last year about having our campaigns managed by a rep and were told that we could have one but we decided against this ultimately.

At the time we were having difficulties getting a response from Adwords London. Then they moved to Dublin. We were told that we would get a dedicated voice to speak to but this doesn't appear to have happened.

To say we are disappointed is an understatement.

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