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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He's lying. I would bet on it.
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.
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.
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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.