If you have been a victim of piracy or have seen your hard work copied by others, you will realize the pain that artists, musicians, designer, publishers and composers feel. Due to the vastness of the internet, copyright violations go largely unchecked. Even if people are caught copying a website design or software code, they are usually let off after they pay up the settlement dues. This further legitimizes copying and piracy across the internet. Due to weak laws or weaker enforcement in most countries, copyright violations are rampant across the internet. Most people do it unknowingly, while others in spite of being aware of the consequences copy other people’s website content. This article discusses how you can deal with persons that have copied your website design or source code.
The simplest and quickest way of settling the matter is by sending a polite but firm email or letter, requesting removal of the content that was copied without your permission. You may want to clearly indicate with screenshots or samples of code, what exactly has been copied from your website. Sending a request before taking any further action also helps in understanding the intention of the person who you think has copied your work. If the copying was unintentional and the person is sincere, they should immediately remove the copied content upon receiving your email. If they don’t remove the content then it will strengthen your case that they have not innocently copied and that although you brought it to their notice, they have continued to violate your copyright. Sending a polite email can also help resolve any confusion. They may get back to you stating that your information cannot be copyrighted or was already in the public domain or that they came up with the same information by their independent labour. All these issues can be discussed, before you decide to take further action.
If your polite reminder does not work, the next step would be to follow it up with a legal notice, either on your own letterhead, or through the lawyer’s office. Legal Notices are rarely ignored and will most definitely lead to some action on the part of the infringer. Either they will send you a reply apologizing, or send a reply countering your claim or they will simply not reply but take down the copied content. Appointing a lawyer maybe an expensive affair, however, you can always send a simple legal notice on your own. You can also approach a welfare association or union to take up your matter in certain cases.
Websites like DMCA.com allow you to submit removal requests, which they then forward to the concerned websites or service providers. Their websites states that “DMCA .com can help with stolen blog content, videos, pictures, websites, games and more. Any country, any content, anywhere. This is what our team of professionals do everyday.” They claim to have most requests removed in 24-48 hours from the complaint. Proactive services like Mark Monitor are used by large companies and famous brands, to prevent and detect copyright infringement. Mark Monitor states that it: “Efficiently detects piracy across the Internet by simultaneously monitoring millions of P2P users across all major networks, live and video streaming sites, auction sites, blogs, exchanges, websites and online forums…Helps prevent unauthorized distribution and selling of copyrighted works by quickly clamping down on sites and networks that make the materials available…”
Complaining to the authorities means taking the legal route. You may have some immediate remedies by approaching the police, and you may also have some long term remedies like a court order restraining the infringer or an account of profits or even damages caused by the infringing material. Depending on the country you are in and depending on the country in which the infringer is in, you may get the necessary justice quickly.