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Accused with DMCA via AdSense Program

     
12:24 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Recently I received a DMCA notice from Google Adsense sent by some xyz website accusing us of copying their ideas (navigation styles, url style and having same category names). We did not copy a single ounce of content from their pages however they laid emphasis that we have top, left and bottom navigation and they have it as well. They also said our url is like them and that our article titles match that of theirs. We are different than them in a lot of aspects like:

1. We have a different HTML/XHTML and CSS (Design) code and that our site colors don't match theirs at all. So having merely top, left and bottom navigation amounts to copyright infringement?

2. URL structures are quite generic and many sites follow the same structure for example like - www.***.com/articles/article-title.html. So, again does this amount to copyright infringement?

3. They say our categories names match those of theirs. Again, having merely same category names (which are again quite generic in nature), amounts to copyright infringement? And not all of our category names are similar to theirs, in fact just some base categories match and that we have an entirely different sub-categories and sub-sub categories.

4. Article titles, are also commonly found to be the same on many websites. Amounts to copyright infringement?

They say we have an intention to mimic their business style but isn't having ideas, expression, creativity and discovery out of the scope of copyrights?

I am totally confident that my website hasn't copied any article content or design style or coding from their website. I am totally depressed that my website's ad-serving has been disabled and that I cannot do nothing. I live outside the United States and am fighting with a giant company. So, small companies like me should bite the dust and do nothing about these companies who think competition should be eliminated and small companies should be uprooted from their existence on the Internet?

I responded with a counter notice to Google and waiting to see if everything turns out well. Can you guys help me on how I can proceed with this? Thank you, Webmaster World is my last resort.

1:26 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



This is the AdSense forum. You probably want to go to the Copyright forum here at Webmaster World if you want to discuss your situation with strangers.

Since you have received the notice, you might consider an initial consultation with an attorney who deals in this area of the law - or hopefully you used the services of an attorney in preparing that counter notice.

You might also read the DMCA information at Google.com, I believe there is a helpful provision for those who have been falsely accused.

FarmBoy

1:30 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



IANAL.

Copyright laws are badly broken. For e.g. you can not use Amazon style one click purchase button, as it is copyrighted.

It is now up to you fight back or change your UI style. Later will not cost you much money.

Good luck!

1:43 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)



they laid emphasis that we have top, left and bottom navigation and they have it as well.

They'd better go after many sites on the Net, the inverted "L" with a copyright footer is the most popular layout and even recommended by Neilsen.

In which country are you?

You need to find a good Internet lawyer who may enjoy a fight:-)

As farmboy wrote, check the DMCA for appeal information.

2:00 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Thanks HuskyPup and himalayaswater for your reply. I am from India. I am making some changes though, so that my site looks different. Won't change every damn thing because it is unfair on me to do so. Just changing the category names and some generic elements
8:56 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I would check their domain registry date as well, or peek into an internet archive, which stores old versions of websites. I don't know if you have an old site (I do), chances are you were first, and they are the ones copying you.
Not that it would help much with Google, but if things get ugly with lawyers and such, this might be important.
9:08 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



It sounds like a trillion to one coincidence for your site and their site to share the exact same article titles, URL names, and category names.

Are you saying it's a complete coincidence? Or are you saying that while you may have copied these elements, your code and content are substantially different?

10:04 pm on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



e.g. you can not use Amazon style one click purchase button, as it is copyrighted.

No, that's a patent.

12:41 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



We did not copy a single ounce of content from their pages however they laid emphasis that we have top, left and bottom navigation and they have it as well.

You say "we" a couple of times - does this mean there are several people working on your site?

Is the site making the accusation a site you've never heard of before this or is this a site you've visited in the past?

Copyright laws are badly broken.

They work pretty well in my experience. I don't mean this towards you, but the people who complain the most seem to be those who don't like it that the law doesn't allow them to cut corners by "borrowing" someone else's work.

For e.g. you can not use Amazon style one click purchase button, as it is copyrighted.

As eeek stated, that's a trademark issue, not a copyright issue.

FarmBoy

1:46 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



As eeek stated, that's a trademark issue, not a copyright issue.

A trademark is not the same as a patent.

Anyway count me in the skeptical ones also about the innocence of the OP (could be unintentional). I personally often have copyright issues with people from India who don't seem to be aware of the concept. Could be a cultural or an educational thing, but they're a disproportionate percentage of offenders with my sites.

1:52 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



As eeek stated, that's a trademark issue, not a copyright issue.

No, I most certainly did not say anything about it being a trademark. Amazon has a patent (number 5960411) for one-click.

I personally often have copyright issues with people from India who don't seem to be aware of the concept.

I've spent some time doing new page patrol on Wikipedia and have seen a lot of that from editors in India. And when the page gets marked for deletion them seem to be confused as to why.

2:00 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



No, I most certainly did not say anything about it being a trademark.

You are correct. My mind thought "patent" but my fingers typed "trademark"

FarmBoy

3:06 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



My mind thought "patent" but my fingers typed "trademark"

Ah, you have the same kind of fingers I do.

4:19 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member




martinibuster - It sounds like a trillion to one coincidence for your site and their site to share the exact same article titles, URL names, and category names.

They are not exact same. It means it is not all=all. We have like 350 articles and out of that some match, but they match with most other sites and most other sites match with many more other sites. Our urls are auto generated as per the article title and I guess their system works the same way, so yes it is coincidence. Again, our category names are not exact match means not all of our category names = all their category names. Infact it is a small portion of our total categories that match.


martinibuster - Are you saying it's a complete coincidence? Or are you saying that while you may have copied these elements, your code and content are substantially different?

Yes but I would rephrase, rather than coincidence, it is generic, yes generic is the right word. And yes, our code and content are quite different.


Farmboy - You say "we" a couple of times - does this mean there are several people working on your site?

Yes, there are several people working on the site, to be precise, 10.


Farmboy - Is the site making the accusation a site you've never heard of before this or is this a site you've visited in the past?

I have seen this website before and thousands similar to it. Have specific examples, if needed to presented in the court of law

4:26 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Just need to ask 1 thing guys, how long till Google or the accusing party responds to my Counter Notification. Also, since I am a very small business owner, I don't think I have the funds to fight a case, so am I out of the game? or is there some kind of hope? Thanks
4:51 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Your best bet is to change the few pages and thank the stars you weren't banned this time. This isn't a fight worth fighting, know what I mean?
5:16 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Thanks martini, I did the changes and hoping that things turn out well
8:25 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



nanastee rash,
sorry to hear about your problem. Maybe one of your 10 staffs (freelancers) may have done some code stealing.

[edited by: martinibuster at 9:36 am (utc) on Mar. 27, 2009]
[edit reason] Removed off topic remarks [/edit]

9:18 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member




Maybe one of your 10 staffs (freelancers) may have done some code stealing.

No, that isn't the problem. I am personally aware of each article, none is copied. The accusing party is making objection against the similar article "titles" and similar navigation system (top/left/bottom). As HuskyPup mentioned, top/left/bottom are the most common navigation options for websites. It is too generic. I believe same goes for article "titles" (not content, of course)

10:02 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



The accusing party is making objection against the similar article "titles" and similar navigation system (top/left/bottom).
If this is only about a similar navigation system and/or titles, I am unsure if copyrights are applied on using similar URI title's !

You can implement an idea from another site's design, but cannot copy exact stuff.

10:18 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member




If this is only about a similar navigation system and/or titles, I am unsure if copyrights are applied on using similar URI title's !

Yes. But they also said we copied images, the funny part is we have licensed images from Jupiterimages (clipart) and they license their images from there as well

11:00 am on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member swa66 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



INAL

The DMCA doesn't apply directly to you (living in India, outside of the US). But copyright is one of the most generic concepts around and it will apply to you in India.

Google has lots of assets in the US and hence a DMCA filing isn't something they can ignore, so you need to help them get it away before they are forced to act. Make sure that for things that are too generic you make your case about it being a generic concept no copyright should apply to.
Make sure that about images you actually have licenses for you show the licenses to Google.

But do know that if you copied text or long titles of articles, you're on the loosing end quite rapidly.
There is also the concept of copyright on collections (I'm not sure it exists in all jurisdictions) to prevent you from creating your own paraphrased content of every article somebody else has.

Take care what you state under DMCA rules: in the US that's perjury if you're not telling the truth. While it won't likely affect you in India, take care what happens if you ever travel to the US.

As others stated concepts, ideas are free to use. Copyright protects the artistic part, the content, the expression.
Software patents also are a US only thing, luckily not recognized in most of the rest of the world.

12:49 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Hi Swa66, no content was copied either by me or any of the people working for me. The issue that the accusing party made was I copied titles and that I have top, left and footer navigation (which they have). What is happening is we are preparing titles after doing keyword research and the accusing party does the same, so "some" of the titles tend to match naturally. The content and the description is of course totally different. My navigation is also different than them, what they are laying emphasis on is I have the same "style" as theirs. Anyways, right now I can only wait or switch to other advertisement serving company.
2:33 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



After reading this whole thread over, rash, more and more I wonder if this was a nuisance filing by a competitor, hoping to knock you off-line....
2:53 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



You know what, I am more frustrated and anguished at the law rather than the accuser. So what someone just picks some discrepancies in a site, file a DMCA and w00t the competitor is down on his knees, no Google ads for a extended period of time. A successful business would have the monetary power to fight back, but small businesses just go out of business, just like mine is seeming to go. Its tragic! what more!
4:19 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



A counter-notice is pretty much all you need to do for now. Google will take your word for it.

If the accusing site wants to pursue it further, they must now proceed to file a lawsuit.

(This is what Google told me when I filed a DMCA against a site that copied 10,000 of my pages). The infringing site simply told Google we did violate their copy right and Google had no choice but to call it a tie and say "let the courts decide... we are out of the mix". Which is essentially what they told me.

After that I had to go a different route to get them penalized... The mainstream media. Once enough bloggers started talking about them, Google finally listened... though it wasn't until some big name bloggers brought it up that they actually did anything about it. Eventually the removed the entire site from the search results... Anyway, that is another story... =)

4:30 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



So there is a bit of hope.

I sent the Counter notice a couple of days back, in fact faxed it 3 times, just waiting for Google's response. Also planing to send them the notice through snail mail.

6:06 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



A counter-notice is pretty much all you need to do for now. Google will take your word for it.
This is little frightening, does google penalize or banns any publisher on receiving a DMCA notice ?

Wondering if yet any publisher Z claims an official/non-official (unsure how it works) DMCA complaint to Google, and then google goes and banns publisher A, B and C, etc. who are into business for several years ?

Or it works vice-versa where a new business publisher Z faces this problem (like rash here) ?

Coprights/Trademarks are for big businesses, money power !

7:44 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Rash,

Sounds to me like it is generic as you say. Any wideget site will have sections on red, blue, green etc widgets. Building widgets, buying widegts, etc etc.

Hell, I compete with other sites every day on pages about buliding green widgets, blue ones and red ones. The keywords for the SERPS is "how to build a green widget" and me, plus all the competition have exactly that phrase in our titles and the URL. Any one of them could claim to have a hold on using that phrase as an article heading.

Oh, and yes, I aslo have a header, side nav and bottom structure, as do most of my competitors.

Forget the often given advice about getting a lawyer. They will eat up your money faster than than the US government can print it.

No, the solution is to look at the accusations and break them down into logical chunks. Then take each chunk and refute it in your letter to Google. Break the accusation down and attack each part of it as a separate entity.

Good luck. If you don't succeed then I'm off to file DMCAs against my competition becasue thay have similar page layouts. After all, I had my layout in the Way Back machine many, many years ago. That would kill 90% of the opposition at a stroke.

8:27 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I've never been hit with a DMCA and I'm just wondering: Is the complainant required to contact you directly first and request removal of the copyright infringement, or they allowed to just go directly to the DMCA complaint?
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