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Blatent Code stealing--what's the best way to handle it?

     
1:35 pm on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This other company and I resell the same online product. That's fine, competition is a healthy thing.

What ticks me off to no end is that this company/person has stolen my code verbatim and used in on their website! It is so blatent as they have missed removing my brand name from the pages, and they have even left in the reference to the custom css classes in the code (I like to use uncommon names for my classes), but they didn't get the class styles for whatever reason.

I have sent them an email giving them until the end of the day to remove the code. I've also forwarded a copy of this email to the company who resells the product to see if they can do anything to help.

While I wait for responses, I've printed off copies of everything and highlighted the really obvious parts in case I need to go to a lawyer.

I'm sure others have gone through this before. How did you handle it? Any suggestions? I thought of emailing the host and getting the whole site taken down, but this guy is his own host.

Thanks for the help! (and for letting me vent! ;) )

3:22 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I thought of emailing the host and getting the whole site taken down, but this guy is his own host.

Maybe worth complaining to the providers of his upstream connection. I.e. if he's got a dedicated server, this would be his hosting company. You can easily find the network whois record from services like 'domain dossier' (google for it).

hth, a.

3:42 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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BINGO!

Thanks andye! Great tool. I think I'll let the host know what this guy is up to!

3:52 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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No problem at all Sari, hope it works out for you.

Best wishes, a.

3:58 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I would imagine if he has your brand/logo on his domain then it would be blatant copyright infringement and you (in my mind at least) could sue his ass. I would suggest having a few really good friends all witness the code of course as this guy may take it down. Though I'm assumming this is clientside code which would not be as big of a deal as serverside. If it's clientside code GENERATED via serverside code then you might have something more solid against that person in court. While I believe in sharing code for mutual benefit it does not seem like this is an example of mutual benefit. :-\

[edited by: digitalghost at 9:19 pm (utc) on July 14, 2005]
[edit reason] language filter work-around [/edit]

4:15 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Please don't get me wrong, I am all for sharing bits of code for helping/learning purposes; and larger pieces with permission from the site owner.

What I'm against is taking not only the code but the content word for word from an ecommerce site for your own benefit.

I will have to speak to my lawyer about suing. Both I and the offending company are in Canada, so I will have to see if there is any way to get a monetary judgement. At this point, I think the most I can hope for is to get the site taken down.

I've printed out his code (with a url and date stamp) as well as my own for comparison. I figure a "picture" or a print out in this case is worth a 1000 words! ;)

Anybody know any good Internet lawyers in Canada (preferably GTA)?

8:56 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If the upstream provider is in the US, then you can file a notice of infringement under the terms of the DMCA. Under this, they're required to remove the infringing material ASAP, or else be liable for damages.
9:12 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It turns out the hosting provider that this company resells for is in the US.

As the 5pm deadline I set for them to remove my content from their site just passed and the material is still up, I've sent an email to the host. John, do I need to do anything else in order for the host to act under the terms of the DMCA?

I've also spoken to my lawyer and will be getting a cease and desist letter drawn up tomorrow, if the host doesn't come through.

Thanks again everyone for the help!

Sari

9:07 am on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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One way to prove the date of something - at least here in the UK - is to mail it to yourself by registered post (and don't open the envelope).

Or a notary may be able to help you, by giving an official date to the printout.

hth, a.

10:52 am on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yet another great idea andye! :)

I'm meeting with my lawyer this morning, and I'll ask her where I can get things notorized.

I still haven't heard back from this guy's host, the site with my content is still up and the company that both of us resells for wants to stay out of it (which I can understand, but boy is it ever frustrating!)

Thanks again!
S.

12:11 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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No problem Sari - glad to help.

I've got used to dealing with this type of thing from the host's point of view... most hosts here in the UK will do a 'notice and takedown' in the situation you describe, so I'm guessing that when the upstream provider gets round to your complaint, there's a fair chance they'll act on it.

If it's one of the mainstream hosting companies then you should take a look at their AUP (if you haven't already), they may have a specific process for abuse complaints.

best wishes, a.

12:37 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>>One way to prove the date of something - at least here in the UK - is to mail it to yourself by registered post (and don't open the envelope).

sorry, this is completely untrue.

1:01 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>>One way to prove the date of something - at least here in the UK - is to mail it to yourself by registered post (and don't open the envelope).

sorry, this is completely untrue.

Is it? I mean, if this doesn't work in practise, then I'll be sure not to use it myself in the future.

The situation I was thinking of is where the post office has dated the item as registered/recorded, and you haven't opened it - wouldn't this form reasonable evidence that the contents predated the postmark?

best wishes, a.

1:40 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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How difficult is it to steam an envelope open and replace its contents? As far as I know this has no standing in law (Civil Evidence Act 1995 [opsi.gov.uk], for example). If the sealed letter is held by a court or a solicitor it may carry more weight. The internet archive is often of great use on these occasions, as are SE caches.
4:17 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If the upstream provider is in the US, then you can file a notice of infringement under the terms of the DMCA.

Forget suing them, just file DMCA complaints with Google, Y! and MSN and put them out of business.

Done.

4:50 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I believe your DMCA notice has to be sent by snail mail ;)
7:19 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi everyone,

I thought you may be interested in an update:

My lawyer is sending a cease and desist along with demands for legal fees and payment for the work done, because as she explained, they'll probably just switch the content and keep the code (or at least now they have the idea from the code and how to recreate it) so I should be paid for that work. I like her way of thinking! ;)

My lawyer is being kind and giving them until Wednesday to comply with the letter, so that they have time to seek legal advice. Now I just have to be patient and not stress about it, which is the difficult part.

I'm trying to be reasonable about the entire thing. I find filing a DMCA complaint very tempting, but as they have other "orginial" pages on their site I'd be happy if they just remove my stuff (for now). However, if they continue to be a PIA a DMCA complaint would satisfy my need to return the favour.

incrediBILL how would I go about filing a DMCA with Google Y! etc? Are there fees involved? Any details you can provide will be appreciated.

Thanks again everyone!
S.

7:49 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You should read the DMCA law first, it will help you get it right the first time as there are some specific things you must do, such as provide exact samples or the infringement, URLs, etc. and swear on a stack of religious reading material that you're the original author.

Google:
[google.com...]

MSN:
[microsoft.com...]

Not sure if this is the right place on Yahoo, messy web site:
[docs.yahoo.com...]

8:07 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You may want to prepare yourself for any backlash. If this person/company is vengeful you could just as easily find yourself on the receiving end of a DMCA. I know many won't believe me, but it's true.

I have been both the victim of DMCA attacks and have filed DMCA reports. It is absurdly easy to file one to remove competition while disguising who actually sent it. I am only bringing this up because few people seem to know the power of the DMCA and tipping your hand too soon can educate your opponent.

If their not harming your income, you may be better off going the C&D route rather than potentially informing them of a weapon that can easily be fired both ways.

incrediBILL - You're making it sound harder than it actually is. I can file a legit DMCA in just a few minutes. It only takes longer if there is a need to drive to a different city to use a neutral fax machine.

8:29 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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incrediBILL,

Thanks for the links. it looks like I have some serious reading to do! ;)

chicagohh,

Thanks for the words of caution. I agree that a DMCA can be used both ways, that is partially why I'm leaving it as an option for further down the road. In this case though, this person wouldn't have a leg to stand on as I have dated print outs with them forgetting to remove my product brand name from the code the stole (among other things)!

The lawyer's C&D was sent via email over an hour ago--so all I can do is sit and wait.

9:32 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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In this case though, this person wouldn't have a leg to stand on as I have dated print outs with them forgetting to remove my product brand name from the code the stole (among other things)!

It wouldn't matter. Once a properly filled out DMCA has been received the service provider must act upon it to avoid being liable. They are not going to investigate claims - that is the job of courts. Once a Counter Notice is filed they will relist or reinstate any work claimed.

The DMCA as a weapon is like a guided dumb-bomb. Guided because once launched it pretty much always hits where it was aimed. Dumb because common sense is pretty much thrown out - deferring to the courts to figure out what is really happening.

10:44 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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incrediBILL - You're making it sound harder than it actually is. I can file a legit DMCA in just a few minutes. It only takes longer if there is a need to drive to a different city to use a neutral fax machine.

Not trying to make it sound hard at all but I always recommend someone READ the document before they use it to make sure they know their rights. I read the DMCA from end to end before I used it the first time, just like I read the AdSense terms and conditions and everything else I use.

The only way to be caught off gaurd is to NOT know what you're getting involved with and what your rights are.

After the first time all subsequent DMCA's were trivial as the boiler plate was loaded and ready to go :)

11:18 am on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The pages are down! :)

I think I'll read up on the DMCA for future reference. Who knows, I may need to use it someday.

Thanks again everyone for your help!

12:51 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Good news Sari!

I have virtually no tolerance for content thieves.
Games are games, but content (or horse) thieves find no mercy here.

I think scrapers and plagiarists should be loudly outed.
I seriously question the wisdom of NOT outing them.
Maybe somebody else can better explain why they should not all be outed.

If you argue that this forum is a sort of water hole, where the lion
and the lamb pass gossip, I can accept that.
If it becomes obvious that this is simply a way to mask or
perpetuate black hat practices, that's an entirely different matter.

Either way, Its not trivial. Your adsense revenue may vary -Larry

10:14 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I seriously question the wisdom of NOT outing them.

I'm with you in that content thieves are despicable.

However, would WW allow outing of sites using hidden text if I feel very, very strongly against it? What about John, next door, who feels strongly against cloaking? And his friend, Jim, who feels strongly against link exchanging between non-related sites?

You may argue that those aren't illegal. But, illegal in which country? And shouldn't courts decide what's legal and what's not? The non-outing is for the good of the entire community but you could always start a post in forum 19 [webmasterworld.com].

10:28 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Oddsod: Good points all. Nobody wants a witch-hunt, but some sites are so
TOTALLY wrong and unfair that they cry out for exposure at the very least. -Larry
10:35 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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but some sites are so TOTALLY wrong and unfair..

True, but whose responsibility is it - apart from the owner of the infringed content - to discover it and take appropriate action? You could "out" a site here only to discover later that they were really the original owners of the content. Brett's ass then finds it's in hot water - which can't be a nice feeling.

It also creates another opportunity for them to screw you: they steal your content and then expose "you" as the thief. As there's no proof required for a post considerable damage could be caused to the genuine content owner. There's a good reason for the policy and I'll refrain from posting on this issue in this thread again; I fear we are hijacking it.

Sari, congrats on getting the pages down.

 

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