Copyright infringementHow many of you have experienced an infringement of your website copyright? If you have, perhaps leave a comment below as I’m genuinely interested to find out how often this actually happens.

The reason I’m mentioning this is because just this week I’ve had my website copyright infringed, and if I’m honest it really angered me.

Whilst checking through my blog comments that were awaiting approval, I noticed a ‘pingback’ from another website which detailed my contact details and a snippet from a recent blog article. Upon further investigation I found that the ‘pingback’ went through to a US based website, specifically to a company offering virtual business support.

So of course I took a look through their website and to my horror found that pretty much every page was a duplicate of my own website, even down to the testimonials!

After all the hard work I’d put in to SEO on my own website, the thought if it being undone because some scammer who couldn’t be bothered to write their own content, appalled me.

So this got me investigating what I needed to do in order to make this ‘business’ remove my content from their website and write their own.

Firstly I tried contacting the telephone number on their website which went through to an answer phone message. Rather than leave a message I decided to comment on ‘their’ blog stating that they’re infringing my copyright and I’m prepared to take legal action, hoping they’d notice it and make some immediate changes. But since I couldn’t see much progress there I did a domain name lookup to find out who hosted the website.

Luckily from this I discovered the ISP who offer website creation and hosting services, both of which this business are using.

However it occurred to me that I didn’t really know my rights or what the possible outcome could be to me if their website wasn’t taken down, or at the very least changed.

The first thing I did was check what Google had to say about it, but given they initially suggest getting legal advice before going any further I realised that it would be a lengthy process so hopefully I’d find a solution elsewhere.

I then took a look at what the UK Copyright Service had to say and fortunately they provide a helpful fact sheet which outlines a step-by-step plan of what you should do in this instance.

So based on their advice I’ve documented dates, times and any communication, as well as made copies of everything, all of which I’ve since sent off to their ISP, who I’m hoping will enforce the owner to remove the content on my behalf.

Amazingly I heard back from them straight away, but of course my initial euphoria has since deflated slightly as I’m now getting passed from country to country and department to department.

Nevertheless I’m staying optimistic that this will be sorted within the next day or so – fingers crossed.

In the meantime if you have come across this with your own website please share your experiences below. There may be some helpful tips that I haven’t yet considered.

7 COMMENTS

  1. An excellent article!
    Someone has pinched my business strap line which irritated me as I also thought it was very clever. However I now say I’m the “original” Simple Solutions for Busy Managers as opposed to the copycat. Which gets a laugh from my network as I am confident in my own skills and positioning. But I wouldn’t be so relaxed if I wasn’t already very well respected and connected in my own business network.

    So good luck with the fight to protect your copyright material and may you continue to thrive!

    • Thanks Sharon! I honestly can’t believe some people have the nerve to do it. The frustrating part is when you’ve spent time perfecting content, or in your case coming up with a clever strap line, for someone to just come along and steal it – it truly angers me. But at least we’re all aware of it, and as Jo mentions, Copyscape is a great way to stay on top of it all.

      I actually had another instance immediately after writing this article of someone in the US taking my content word-for-word and placing it into their own website. Luckily I managed to contact this person directly and she has now removed her website entirely, until she’s ready with her own content. But it’s amazing as she thought I should be flattered that someone like her would want to use my content! The amusing thing in this case was that she’s actually a legal VA – I certainly wouldn’t want to use her if I need a legal assistant!

  2. Another useful resource is Copyscape http://www.copyscape.com/ This is a free plagiarism checker which allows you to put in the url of a page of your site and it then goes off to look for any duplicate content. there’s also some useful articles on their site about your rights and how to go about responding. I have experienced an identical issue twice in the past. One was removed very promptly by the ISP, in the other case the content is still up there (including the bit about their background as a physicist!) and I haven’t managed to get it removed yet. This meant I ended up revamping the words on my own site, but not a very satisfactory solution. Let us know how you get on Sarah.

    • Thanks Jo, I completely forgot to tell you! It looks like it’s all sorted now though – fingers crossed. Copyscape is a fantastic resource for checking if your website content has been infringed in any way. If so then unfortunately it’s a case of trying to contact the owner, or getting through to their ISP hoping they’ll work on your behalf. Luckily for me it seems that the majority of my duplicated content has been removed or changed. But yes it does make you worry, after all the hard work you can put in to making sure your website really sells your services, and is ranking as high as it can in search engines, for someone to just come along and knock all that hard work in a second because they’re too lazy to write their own content, is maddening. My advice is to check regularly so you can be on top of it, if it ever does happen to you.

  3. Hi Sarah, this has happened to me twice. Once by a lady with the same name as me who simply copied huge chunks of my website. I even had clients connect to her on LinkedIn because they thought she was me! The second is current and is a lady in the same town as me. Talk about doing the dirty on your own doorstep. The first time I was livid, threatened all sorts of action and the lady removed the copy. She’s since gone out of business. This time, probably because I thought I may well come across this lady locally at a networking meeting) I handled it very differently. I wrote very tongue in cheek saying how spooky it was that her pages were exactly the same as mine. She’s been really great about it although at the moment the copy is still up there so I’m monitoring the situation.

    Thanks for the info on the UK Copyright Infringement fact sheet. I shall be getting a copy and brushing up my legal knowledge just in case!

    • Hi Claire, yes sadly it does seem to be a regular occurrence by people who are too lazy to sit down and create their own content, although having others do it in your local town is crazy, and rather stupid. I hope you manage to get it sorted quickly, as the longer it goes on the more likely her pages will be indexed by Google and you will have problems with duplicate content. Best of luck and do keep us posted on how you get on.

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