Articles Tagged ‘Copyright infringement’

OUR WEBSITE WAS COPIED AND WHAT I DID ABOUT IT

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I use Google Alerts, as many professionals and small business owners do, to find information based on various key words of their industry. One of the many benefits I’ve realized is that it allows me to find articles and blog posts I’ve written that are posted by others. I sometimes write and thank them for sharing, as it is definitely a form of flattery when someone re-posts your writing – and shares it properly (linking and giving credit).

Using Google Alerts also helps me easily stay up to date on the home inventory industry. I can scan the information quickly to find useful information about the various needs for a home or business inventory.

I was recently reading my daily Alert when I noticed that a new home inventory company had been established. It is always interesting to me to review these new sites, see where they’re located, and how they’re providing their service, etc.

Was I surprised when I clicked on this specific link and was looking at “our” website, but under their domain name! The only thing that was different was the name of the company! I was shocked. Then I was angry! They had copied our site! And not just the content, they had also copied the code, photos, color scheme – everything. It was an exact copy! Copyright infringement at its “finest”.

Once all the emotions subsided, I showed Mike, husband and business partner, what I had discovered. It was interesting watching him mentally download what he was seeing, and going through all the emotional stages I had just completed.

Once I got a grip on the reality of the situation, we had a huge decision to make: what to do about it!

WHAT WE DID ABOUT IT

The first thing I did was call our business coach, J.Sewell Perkins. She is a great mentor and advisor and exactly what I needed. It is important to handle this type of issue – and any issue for that matter – properly and professionally.

We decided that it’s possible this person didn’t know that it was illegal to copy others’ information (I’m surprised to learn that many think if it’s on the internet, it’s fair game!). We wanted to give this new business owner the benefit of the doubt, so we chose to contact her.

When looking at WhoIs.com, the only name available was the technical advisor. Therefore, I sent a letter to him via email and registered letter stating our findings and requesting that the site be taken down in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. We requested that he sign and return the agreement by a specific date. He emailed and stated that he was creating this site as a favor for a friend who is starting a home inventory business. He admitted that it was a shoe-string operation, that they liked our site design and decided to use it as a basis to start from. He continued to state that they did not respect our privacy, and hoped that it wasn’t compromised. He also promised to return the signed agreement promptly.

I don’t know about you, but if I got a letter of this type, I would take it seriously! We didn’t hear from him by the deadline, so additional research was my next step. I was able to locate the owner of the company through a search on the internet that took me to a LinkedIn page. A second letter was sent out with a request for immediate response, letting the owner know I had not heard from the web developer.
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