By Emele Maisey
When you find that parts of your Web site have been maliciously stolen by a competitor or a scammer, whether it be an article, images or even the whole design, it's important to have the offending site remove the copied portions as soon as possible to make sure you get credit for your hard work and to maintain the credibility of your brand.
Even though you're going to be upset and angry at what has happened, try to stay calm — You can fight this on your own, without the need of an expensive lawyer, by following the steps below.
Gather Information and Proof
- Find a contact email address for the offending Web site. If you can't find an email address on the site, do a WHOIS search for the registrant, this will be the owner of the Web site and should also list their contact information. Also make a note of who is hosting the Web site.
- Use the Way Back Machine to find past views of your site — this helps prove that your site, with the original content, has been online longer.
- Provide a link to the Google Cache showing that the Google Spiders discovered your content earlier than the offending Web site.
- Take screenshots of the copied material on the offending Web site. In the case of a whole site being, copied save the source code as well so that it can be compared with yours.
- Gather as much date evidence as possible — this might include screenshots or copies of:
- The dates comments were made on your blog in response to the original post
- Your MySQL database records
- The original (preferably unedited) images or graphics with the file date
- Past backups of your Web site with dates modified
Contact the Offending Web Site
- To begin with, send a polite email informing the owner of the theft and request that the stolen content or images be removed within a certain time frame.
- If you don't hear back or they aren't compliant send a Cease and Desist order (Many outlines can be found online for you to use).
At this point they should reply to you and take the material down. Keep checking their Web site in case they remove the copied material but don't contact you to tell you.
However, if the Web site owner doesn't respond or even accuses you of stealing their content stop communicating with them and proceed through the next steps.
Take it to the Top
Contact the offending Web site's host to make a complaint, sending the Cease and Desist order along with the evidence. Most hosting companies are very strict on these matters and will usually suspend the site temporarily until matters are cleared up.
File a DMCA complaint with Google and the other search engines telling them to remove the site from their search indexes as the site involved violates copyright laws.
About the Author
Emele is a Web site designer and small business owner. She first started her small ecommerce Web site selling handmade cards and gifts back in 2004. She then opened her own Web design and search engine optimization business in 2008 to help other small business owners succeed online.