So the question becomes once youíve verified a theft, what can you do about it? First off you need to properly identify the thief. Itís not uncommon that the actual site owner who has your content has no idea it was stolen. Website owners unknowingly hire unethical content providers who then simply take content from another site and pass if off as their own. While technically ignorant of the theft, it still doesnít absolve the website owner from responsibility. Usually when confronted with the truth, the website owner will voluntarily remove the offending content. Some complain to you about it like itís your fault. After all, they spent good money on it, why should they take it down without a refund of the money they spent on it in the first place? This has actually happened to me in the past on two separate occasions. So what do you do when someone refuses to remove your content after asking nicely?
In a perfect world, you have already taken serious steps to prove ownership. Having your site reviewed by third parties in a formal setting is a great way to prove time ownership and original publishing. Barring that, keeping old revisions of pages or even utilizing the Wayback machine will even work. Also, itís important to document the theft of your material as well. Take screenshots and check the date the site went active. After all, if the site is brand new and you can easily prove you page existed prior to the offending site even going live, you should have no problems getting your material removed. It boils down to the more information you have before hand, the easier it will be to get your content removed. Now the gloves should come off.
Depending on the type of site, you may have extra options in having your content removed. For example, if the site belongs to a real estate agent, contact their broker directly and complain (LOUDLY). Inform him youíre next step will be a formal complaint to the state real estate division against the agent and him. Another tactic is to inform the offender before hand in a second communication outlying the rain of complaints both civil and legal you intend to file.
These include filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce (if they are a member), any professional group they belong to, and their web hosting company and of course, to the major three search engines. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
or the EU Copyright Directive
(if you are across the pond) all of the major search engines will take corrective measures against the offending websites, as will their web hosting company.
Google has complete guidelines in place to remove the offending site from their index, which in itself is a compelling reason for the offender to remove your material. Contacting the offenderís web host will usually net you a mixed bag of results. Some disclaim any responsibility and try to brush you off. Under the DMCA, thatís not exactly true. Stick to your guns. Ask to speak to their attorney. Be a nuisance and theyíll usually send an email to the offender. Iíve had a web host actually contact the customer directly. After that, he removed my material.
Even doing all of the above and more may not be enough to convince the offender to take down your content. The last resort will be to hire an attorney, preferably one who is familiar with copyright law. Thanks for stopping by!
About the author: Charles Richey is an avid blogger and webmaster for lvrealty.net, a Las Vegas and Henderson real estate