07 Mar 2006

When do you throw the book at Content Stealers?

Last night I received an email from one of my clients….he shows me 2 links to other websites who have stolen his content. (one just changed the location of the business to their state and locality on the pages, and the company name). To say my client was angry was an understatement. There were lots of $%*& in his email, and he wanted to know what to do.

To be honest, my first thought was….yea, it happens all the time…is there really someting you can do that’s effective? I’ve kinda given up on fighting that battle personally with webuildpages.com…but hey, he sounds like he wants to fight, so I gave him this advice.

I found a few nice artilces from KEYT Law, written by Richard Keyt.

One is called 
Internet Copyright Law: 
A Rat Pilfered My Web Site Cheese – What Do I Do?
Remedies for Web Site Copyright Infringement

In the artilce, Richard says that for better future legal standings, he recommends copyrighting your site. He has an article about the benefits of copyrighting your website (and throws in his plug at the end ($300)).

Richard has has an awesome resource page called "How to Obtain Web Site Copyright Protection" that’s quite detailed (detailed enough that I’d pay him to do it.).

Then he talks about what you’d want to include in your Cease and Desist Letter (about 1/2 down this page).

I wanted to find an example of a Cease and desist letter and I found a nice pdf on here - page 6-7 of this pdf. I also found this cool web page that gives a nice template for a cease and desist letter.

….but I’m not sure if you can really stop people who are stealing your content…

I have some version of www.copyscape.com that emails me each week with copies of part of my paragraphs on other websites.  I see it weekly…and I’ve kinda grown numb..and thankful that google was doing a good job of tossing others.

I see tons of scrapers…most with adsense on the top….some take sentences….some take paragraphs…some take whole pages….some take whole site….95% are done with computer scraping programs. A few will go in by hand and change the name of "We Build Pages" to "whatever SEO company" and replace the "Jim’s" with "whoever’s"….

I guess it’d be impossible to go after the scrapers (and 90% of scrapers are on subdomains of older domains….with adsense on top…and left…and bottom)….pray that the engines know which content they found first, and hope they supplemental the others…(and don’t get me going on how this will effect the current Supplemental issued going on for when they do come back).

The ones I take any action on are the ones where whole page were scraped….a few are people even have the balls to actually go in by hand and just replace the name of "We Build Pages" to "whatever SEO company" and replace the "Jim’s" with "Whoever’s". (My new wording on our homepage should make this harder for them (comments anyone?)).

It’s those people that I think I’ve got a shot at, and that I’d go after. To be honest I’ve only had to send them emails requesting the content be down in 24 hours or I’d involve my attorney and I’d be seeking damages. I’ve never had to grab my lawyer, and there’s no one burning in my mind who’s stole my content and still has it published….maybe I’ve been lucky so far.

At what point to you take steps if someone stole your content, and what steps would you take?