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Author Topic: Stealing My Content  (Read 936 times)
Ash
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« on: February 21, 2011, 11:26:42 PM »

Most of you know that I have my own website for Eastern Iowa Airsoft.  It's been up for over a year now and is doing pretty good.

One of the regular players who often comes to my field has been acting very odd lately.  Just different than how he usually acts.  We'll call him Chief.

While looking at the statistics for my website recently, I noticed an unusually high amount of traffic from a new website.  I'm not going to say the name, but lets just say that it is a new website for Airsoft here in Iowa.
Upon closer examination, I learned that Chief and two other regular players at my field were behind it.
I'm not too worried about them when it comes to competition because I'm established, have hosted a ton of events, have countless pictures and videos available, and I have designated private land to play on.
These guys have none of that.

What I am concerned about is the fact that nearly all the content on their site was stolen from mine.  They might have changed a word or two here or there, but for the most part it's all a carbon copy of my website.  It looks different, but all the text is the same.
I downloaded their liability waivers and safety rules and they are identical to mine.  No word variations at all.  They simply slapped a watermark on theirs. (mine do not have watermarks)

So essentially, these guys have stolen most of my content.
I've never had anything like this happen to me before and would greatly appreciate any help you guys can offer.
What are my options?  What should I do?

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ulthar
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2011, 11:34:43 PM »

Well, the first question I'd ask is "Who cares?"

I don't mean to be flippant about it, but...

(1) What do you lose if they steal your content and
(2) What does it cost you to pursue legal options?

If you are losing money from their actions or they stand to gain money from their theft, then you probably do have legal recourses (Rev, want to pipe in here?).

But, if it's just about "who owns what," you really want to ask yourself if it's all worth a fight.

I'm NOT saying that it is not worth a fight...only I'd start with asking myself this question before I got too bothered about it.  Ya have to start somewhere, right?  Might as well explore what you are losing and what you stand to gain with what could be a TON of effort.

Hope it works out...
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 12:23:16 AM by ulthar » Logged

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Ed, Ego and Superego
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2011, 11:51:15 PM »

Well, I know Andrew has a technique, involving ISPs and such.  You should PM him and see.  Money or no, they are taking your work. 
-Ed
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dean
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 07:46:14 AM »


If its just liability forms and whatnot, then I don't see the problem [they're legal forms so I imagine they should be the same no matter who is doing it].  Hell even copying the basic layout is annoying but lets face it there's a lot of similar sites out there so its not that big an issue.

The thing that would concern me is anything involving your Intellectual Property, such as videos/pictures etc. 

Beyond that, competition happens so as Ulthar has [sort of] said: Sometimes you have to grin and bear it.  That or change the site up to look different and make it impossible for them to copy it!  Better that than get p**sy at them and potentially lose face amongst other members: be the better guy.
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AndyC
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2011, 09:28:48 AM »

Might not be a bad idea to simply get advice from a lawyer. This sort of thing is common enough in all types of business that there are established ways of dealing with it, or protecting against it in the future.

I woudn't think taking legal action, even if you have a case, is worth the cost in time and money, but there might be other options. Even paying a lawyer to send a strongly worded letter might be sufficient to put a scare into them. Of course, if it doesn't, and you do nothing, it does more harm than good. Only a lawyer could really tell you what might work.

I would say to ignore it, but the nature of your business is such that you're going to have customers thinking you have a dream job, and it is relatively easy for one to occasionally start up a half-assed operation that might not be able to compete in the long run, but will draw away customers for a while. And there is always a chance they might get smart and become real competition. I would think it wise to prepare for that possibility.

I don't think you should necessarily take legal action, but I do think you should consult a lawyer about how you might protect yourself against unscrupulous competitors in the future.
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Flick James
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2011, 10:35:41 AM »

The primary question here is always going to be:

What that they have stolen can you prove you own? Is anything on your site copyrighted?

Also, without paying to consult a lawyer, you may be able to get some basic information from ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). They pretty much govern Internet domain names. They handle disputes over domain names mainly. However, they may be able to provide some basic information on your rights and recourses in this case. I would recommend make an inquiry with them and they may be able to at least point you in the right direction.
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Rev. Powell
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2011, 02:12:31 PM »


If you are losing money from their actions or they stand to gain money from their theft, then you probably do have legal recourses (Rev, want to pipe in here?).



No, but I will.  Wink

Steps I would take, in order (if you decide it's worth it to you):

1. Send them an informal notice explaining that your material is copyrighted, you do not grant them permission to use it, and asking them to take down your content.

if that doesn't work

2. Send them a formal cease-and-desist letter giving them a deadline to take down the offending text or you will file a DMCA notice and take any other necessary legal action.

if that doesn't work

3. File a DMCA notice with their web host and search engines requesting the material be taken down.

You may want to consider officially registering your website text with the Copyright Office, though it's both expensive and a pain. 

Here's an article to read: http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/04/10/what-do-you-do-when-someone-steals-your-content/
 
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Andrew
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2011, 02:37:55 PM »

Something to remember is that copyright covers original works, and it is not going to cover say, making a sandwich.  If they copied your safety rules, and those are likely to be much the same anywhere, it's going to be hard to prove its an original work that you own.  Now, if they copied content that you wrote that obviously involved a lot of your input, then you have a better case.

Rev laid down a good course of action if you need to pursue things.  Most often when I run into this, it's blatant and I go right to submitting a DMCA notice to their provider.  That's always worked, so long as I submitted a correct DMCA notice.  Something to remember is that the person doing the copying can submit a counter-claim, that says they own the copyright for the work in question, and at that point the only recourse is court action.

I've never had a thief submit a counter-claim.
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Andrew Borntreger
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Rev. Powell
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2011, 02:47:30 PM »

Something to remember is that copyright covers original works, and it is not going to cover say, making a sandwich.  If they copied your safety rules, and those are likely to be much the same anywhere, it's going to be hard to prove its an original work that you own.  Now, if they copied content that you wrote that obviously involved a lot of your input, then you have a better case.


Yeah, I didn't address the liability waiver.  That's probably not a good case, as these things tend to be "boilerplate" and I imagine Ash adapted it from somebody else in the first place. 
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Ash
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2011, 11:41:06 PM »


Yeah, I didn't address the liability waiver.  That's probably not a good case, as these things tend to be "boilerplate" and I imagine Ash adapted it from somebody else in the first place. 

That's exactly what I did.
I found a free generic template online and then modified it to suit my needs.

It's not so much the waivers and rules that bothers me.  It's the blatant copying of my text on their website pages.

By the way...thanks for the help guys!   Smile   Thumbup
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Ash
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2011, 11:49:09 PM »

I would say to ignore it, but the nature of your business is such that you're going to have customers thinking you have a dream job, and it is relatively easy for one to occasionally start up a half-assed operation that might not be able to compete in the long run, but will draw away customers for a while. And there is always a chance they might get smart and become real competition. I would think it wise to prepare for that possibility.

Funny that you mention the phrase "dream job".
I was talking to a buddy the other day and he called it that, too.  I never really thought of it as a dream job, but that's exactly what it is.  I host extreme sporting events for profit and have fun doing it.  Even though it really is a lot of work, it doesn't feel like it.  I have a total blast each time I host one.

« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 02:43:28 AM by Ash » Logged
ulthar
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« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2012, 09:30:59 PM »

I recently became aware that in 2011, blog site had posted content from my site (that I posted to MY site in 2005 or 06 or so).  It was VERY clearly stolen...exact wording, plus references to facility specific model numbers and such.

I followed the hosting company's guidelines for disputes of this type: requested action from them after verifying the site was hosted by them.  They've informed me that the disputed content was blocked by them.

You know, it's so aggravating in this case, because had that merely included a link, or "As posted on" type reference, I would not have cared one whit further.

That said, given my first reply above, if this remedy with the hosting company does not work, I doubt it's worth pursuing further.
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Andrew
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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2012, 09:41:40 PM »

I recently became aware that in 2011, blog site had posted content from my site (that I posted to MY site in 2005 or 06 or so).  It was VERY clearly stolen...exact wording, plus references to facility specific model numbers and such.

I followed the hosting company's guidelines for disputes of this type: requested action from them after verifying the site was hosted by them.  They've informed me that the disputed content was blocked by them.

You know, it's so aggravating in this case, because had that merely included a link, or "As posted on" type reference, I would not have cared one whit further.

That said, given my first reply above, if this remedy with the hosting company does not work, I doubt it's worth pursuing further.

If the hosting company is in the US they will have to follow the DMCA unless they want to get sued.  A correctly formatted DMCA notification will make them remove the copyrighted content.  The only way for it to be legally placed back online is if the person who owns the site were then to make a counter-claim, which makes them liable, that they own the content and that your DMCA notice is false.  Then your only recourse would be court.

If the site is outside the US, then things get harder.  Some countries do have similar laws or rules, so you can get the content removed.  China and Russia are a different monster. There are a lot of scraper sites in China that steal my reviews and there really isn't much I can do about them besides notify Google so they are penalized in the search results.
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