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Fighting back on stolen content outranking in search

3:43 pm on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Just discovered that it's possible to pursue copyright claims in small claims court in Canada, so this may be a means of fighting back when your stolen content outranks and/or appears on other websites. Probably only will be possible if the infringer is in Canada, since case has to be filed as close to the defendant as possible.

I have an instance that fits, so I'm looking at it. Any thoughts?
4:50 am on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm not an attorney and this info is only 'to the best of my knowledge in the US', so I would definitely (and absolutely recommend you) contact an attorney in the area any case would be in before doing anything, but, from what I know, time, travel expenses, etc. relating to an infringement suit may be awarded in addition to any damages from the actual infringement if 'the entity infringed upon' wins a suit in the US.

If the laws of Canada are the same and it's a 'slam dunk' you're the winner and you know the infringer can and will pay*, I would definitely consider 'going for it', but I'm not 100% sure on anything relating to this type matter, especially in Canada, so definitely, in my opinion, you should contact an attorney who has adequate knowledge to advise you and do your own due diligence before making a decision.

* I have heard from a number of people here in the US winning is one thing, but actually receiving payment may be another completely different matter.
5:35 am on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I agree, consult an attorney. An attorney can advise you on steps to take prior to filing suit, in order to insure your best outcome.
11:12 am on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Here in the United States, one has to prove there are damages arising from the copyright infringement. This has to be well documented as this is what the courts will award judgements based upon. Secondly, the defendant must have an ability to pay. Otherwise, the judgement will simply be an entry in the court's and credit bureau's computer that follows the defendant around for life.

In many cases it is not wise to file a lawsuit as the amount of financial losses arising from the infringement are difficult to prove, quite subjective and rather limited for the average webmaster.
12:25 pm on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I don't know about attorneys outside of the UK but in the UK they cost an awful, awful huge amount of money. £500 an hour? That's the base to start from if you want an attorney who knows anything about websites and copyright infringement. If you want a good one £1,000 an hour is probably the base going rate. They charge for every single thing they do, including the time it takes them to fart if a fart occurs when they are doing work for you - probably extra if it's an especially fruity one.

Unless your website is a mega large and profitable one, attorneys are never a realistic option, in the the UK anyway.

The beauty of the small claims court is that you can take anyone / any entity to court and it will only cost you a small amount to proceed. The downside is that damages are also limited but if you win in the small claims court then your adversary is liable to stop doing whatever you took them to court for - even if they never pay the damages.

I'd say go for it and see what happens. Let us know the outcome coachm. I'm assuming the Canadian small claims system is similar to the UK.
6:30 pm on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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US experience here from 2009:

My one non profit customer had another non profit 'competitor' doing meta-description SPAM listing on their website listing the organizations name and town. Both are BnM single location orgs separated by 100 miles. SPAM showed to customers using Yahoo! and any of their search data partners.

Email takedown notice was sent and a few emails went back and forth with them in denial. Pushed a bit harder and they postured and threatened involving their transportation lawyer (1-2 more zeros in the fee than a neighbourhood lawyer).

I responded that this situation was a good candidate for a trademark case, listed a few url's of similar wins and mentioned that they would need a trademark lawyer which was more expensive (1-2 more zeros in the fee) than their transportation lawyer. The takedown occurred in 1-2 days.

A point to use later in the dialogue with them is if their board has insurance is that any judgement payout (by insurance) exposes the board to civil suit if negligence/gross incompetence can be proved. The 'proof' could be as simple as not honouring the takedown and allowing the courts to become involved. This puts their residences, savings and even funds set aside for children's schooling on the table.

I'm not a lawyer in Canada which may be different but you could find some/all of the above useful for letter writing as you are being guided by your lawyer.
9:21 pm on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have come to a conclusion the sites that drop with copyright theft is indicative of other problems
10:35 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I agree with nomis5. Attorneys are very, very expensive. I donít know of many who can be retained to write a simple cease and desist letter and follow-up for less than $1000.

I currently have a similar situation Ė which is what brought me to this thread. I have a multi-million dollar corporation copying text and photos from my site Ė theyíre even removing (cropping out) a watermark of my registered servicemark from all the photos.

Iíve spoken to five attorneys. Three agreed I should fight to the death, and asked me for mid-four-figure retainers - just to get started. One actually thought I had no case for various reasons. One other one sounded reasonable and Iíve made 2 follow-up calls to retain his services Ė still no reply after several weeks.

The bottom line is you can register trademarks, servicemarks and copyrights, but itís all useless unless you are willing to spend big bucks to defend them.
12:20 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Forget the attorney, these are not allowed in small claims court and will charge you more than you are allowed to win in small claims court. I'm not an attorney so this isn't legal advice, it's personal opinion.

Do it, you have a right to get an explanation as to why your copyright is being violated. I don't think search engines are immune from claims either, nobody is if you didn't grant a license.