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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)

10+ Year Member

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?


5:34 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

There are some other things that are trademarked specifically in certain industries. One is the number '501' (Levi). There is nothing to stop Peugeot selling a model 501 car, but when some cricketer scored 501 not out (a world record), no companies could print and sell t-shirts with 501 on them.

<Sorry, should have used that example earlier - just remembered about it!>


6:08 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

what about a list of links?

say a site compiles a list of websites for a particular topic, and then I notice another competing site copies that list, can this be prosecuted?


9:28 pm on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A straight list of links is not copyright protected.

Add some commentary of your own about each link, and you've created copyright protected material, although someone could extract the list of links out of it and that would be okay.


12:16 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

so if I spend hours of my time finding relevant links/sites, someone can just rip it off as long as they do their own commentary/descriptions?

If a site has lots of categories and links, it would fairly obvoius that a site copied my work, but I guess its not illegal is what your saying.

oh well.


1:24 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I see a lot of my Commercial clients' website Titles copies as it is as well. Not only that, they copy all your website and all your descriptions an everything else. he forgot to remove my name from the sitemap and I found him. :-)


2:47 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

just put title like:

if ur pages are about Wallpapers and ur site name is Example.com

then write ur title like:

Wallpapers - Example.com

so, what u think how is it?


[edited by: agerhart at 1:36 pm (utc) on Dec. 17, 2003]


3:06 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I have had this happen with copy in the home page. I wrote the company and told them about it and they changed it within 24 hours.

Maybe worth a try?


11:24 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It is difficult to say with absolute circumstance whether there is infringement in copying of a title: it depends upon the specific circumstances.

I assume that your content is located in the United States and subject to US copyright law? If so, the LoC seems to suggest that there is no copyright in such a title ( [copyright.gov...] ). Sorry.

If you host your content in another country, you may find things better. There are at least two precedents in the UK that you could rely upon.

Francis Day & Hunter Ltd. and Another v. Bron and Another.[1963] Ch. 587

'' Wilberforce J. found that the first eight bars of the chorus of "In a Little Spanish Town" constituted a substantial part of the whole tune ... ''

From Shetland Times, Ltd. v. Jonathan Wills and Another. [1997] F.S.R.

''However, in light of the concession that a headline could be a literary work and since the headlines at issue (or at least some of them) involve eight or so words designedly put together for the purpose of imparting information, it appeared to me to be arguable that there was an infringement, at least in some instances, of s 17.''


1:00 pm on Dec 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have a site that has high quality images of photos examples for a digital photography studio. I saw some log enttries that were referencing the images on quite a few sites over in Denamrk and Germany. These people were actually hot linking my images. They would have the images sprinkled among their site because they looked nice. At first I freaked and removed some of the images in question and looked at their sites with satisfaction as they displayed broken icons. Then I decided to put "copyright 200X by mysite.com." Those images are still being used with my site's name on them. What a hoot. It has been that way for the past year... :-)


5:18 pm on Dec 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In regards to "directories" - basically a "list" of categories is not copyright - hence a list of links is not copyright - but the manner in which the information and text is displayed is - I.E. table layouts and organisational display of that content is copyrighted to a degree.

Titles, short descriptions and keywords are not copyright - unless they are registered trademarks - the same as a title of a book is not copyright unless it's registered.

I believe code and even tables are copyright - if someone rips a complex table layout that was designed uniquely from the ground up - that is copyright infringement if the "core design" code is obviously infringing - I.E. your unique pattern of <table> <tr> <td> 's - when stripped of other code it's easy to match patterns... it comes down to how much is the same...

The weight is generally on the infringer to prove they were not copying and show evidence to the case.

We had 1300 pages of our local directory network copied by a hack - and even through the link descriptions were removed the table HTML content was nearly identical +82% and warranted prosecution.

Took 9 emails, a proof document + 4 statements and a "the longer you leave that design up the more money you will owe us" before they got the point and simply closed shop...

"Only those without skill or imagination copy and paste"



1:13 pm on Dec 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you have a list of links that people are copying you can do a few things to make it harder (but not impossible):

* rather than linking directly, link to a redirect script using an Id or some sort of obfuscation (like rot13). If you restrict the REFERRER to your own site then someone would have to copy each link manually;

* Include some links to non-existant websites, or to your own sites. You can hide them from browsers using CSS styles;

* As others have said, if you 'add value' to the data using descriptions, colors, additional information, etc. then you have a case to claim copyright.

Re: trade-marks - Harley-Davidson have protected the sound their engines make after other companies tried to emulate it ;)


9:21 pm on Dec 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What % of tables can be copied, you mentioned 82% was enough to prosecute?

I believe there are exact percantages that have to be met, both for pictures and HTML. I think it was 50% of a picture has to be altered for it to be 'legit'...but don't quote me on it!



6:57 am on Dec 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I don't believe cyanweb's "categories" analogy is correct. Look this up for yourself, but I am fairly certain that a unique compilation of links is indeed protected by copyright.

To test it out, try spidering dir.yahoo.com and republishing its directory under your own name. Even if you don't include the link commentary, I predict that if Yahoo notice you they will shut you down in an eyeblink.

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