What does a Senior Director of a Jacksonville Florida real estate agency have in common with Ace Concierge? Not a hell of a lot except copyright infringement of an old blog post of mine. I was doing some research to repurpose a post and there it was; with the exact same title and contents. While I have read that copying and/or mimicking are forms of flattery, I personally find that stealing another’s content is very unethical, lazy and unprofessional. There is no moral compass.
In today’s high tech world, it isn’t all that difficult to search and locate those who have violated copyright laws. This certainly isn’t the first time I have found my words stolen and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It is extremely frustrating and quite disheartening that people can’t create their own content or at least ask for permission and give credit. I have even had client testimonials copied word for word. What does it say about their morals?
While there is a bit of gray area and some of the laws are open to interpretation, it still stands that pirating content crosses the boundaries of professional behavior. If the offender can do this without thought or care, what other practices are instituted within their business? It is humorous when they post their values and mission statements about ethics yet they have stolen content or they have copyrighted their own site. What irony.
I have written various cease and desist letters, included the DMCA as well as the TOS from website hosts regarding their policies on copyright infringement and fortunately all of the content has been successfully removed.
The Copyright Act provides two primary remedies: (1) it allows the owner of the copyrighted material to stop the infringement and (2) obtain damages and attorney fees from the infringer. Both types of relief are available even if the copyrighted material has not been registered with the United States Copyright Office before the infringement occurs. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides additional rights. Specifically, it allows the copyright holder to require the Internet service provider (ISP) hosting the infringer’s website to delete the plagiarized contents. If the ISP does not comply, it can be sued for “contributory infringement.” 2. In case the offending webmaster does not take the prospect of the above action seriously then you should also clearly state you intend to file a notice of Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA) infringement with search engines such as Google and Yahoo. This action can potentially ruin a web business as the search engines take a dim view of plagiarism and can remove an offending site from their search results should an infringement claim be justified.
What can you do to locate and reclaim your content from these dishonest offenders?
- Use copyscape to find your plagiarized content
- Locate the website owner on whois
- Send a cease and desist letter. It is advisable to include screenshots of your material
- Trace your content history with Internet Archive Wayback Machine
Under Title 17, United States Code, Section 512(c)(3)(A), the Notification of Claimed Infringement must include ALL of the following:
- Physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.
- Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed or a representative list if multiple works are involved.
- Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing that should be removed or access to disabled and information reasonably sufficient to enable the online service provider to locate the material (usually a URL to the relevant page with description of items on that page claimed to be infringing).
- Information reasonably sufficient to allow the online service provider to contact the complaining party (address, phone number, e-mail address).
- Statement that the complaining party has “a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent or the law.”
- Statement that the information in the notice is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.
Finding your content on someone’s website is quite unnerving. The gall they have to pirate your hard work and dedication to writing breaks the rules and crosses the confines of professionalism,integrity and character. People do it everyday, without a second thought, leaving their principles to be questioned. It may just represent a blog post but they didn’t write it, nor do they own it. A simple inquiry for permission to repost or repurpose is not a time suck but a professional courtesy. A sign of respect and value.
Plagiarism isn’t going away anytime soon but you do have options to recover your content as your own. Only you can decide if it is worth your time and energy to pursue.
What measures do you take to recover or protect your content?