(The following 3 part article series is also available in a single format.
Contact us is you would like it in one entire article)
Theft - Part 3 of 3
More ways to tackle website theft and
how to try to prevent it from happening again.
by Janice D. Byer CCVA, MVA
Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services
(Please note that some of the
information included in this article has been quoted from various
locations while other information is simply my personal opinion and you
will probably feel my passion in my words.)
In the first
instalment in our series on Website Theft, we looked at the definition
of Copyright and what Copyright Law covers. In our second
instalment, we looked as how to tell if you material is being stolen,
how damaging it can be, and gave you some ideas on what to do if you find
out your content is being unlawfully used by others. In this instalment we
will continue to give you ideas on what to do if you material is being
used and also some thoughts for trying to prevent it from recurring.
Unfortunately, you may run across someone
who refuses to respond to your initial email request to take your material
off their website . In such a case, let an appropriate amount of time from
your previous correspondence to go by before sending a secondary email.
You may even want to do another check of contact information for the
offending website to be sure you have tried every email address for the
owner of the website.
Another step would be to send a snail mail
letter to the website owner. If that still fails to generate any action,
you can consider sending the letter by some form of delivery that requires
a signature of receipt.
Once all efforts to contact the website
owner have been exhausted, it is time to go to other sources. Your next
step would be to contact the hosting company of the website and advise
them of the offence and what you would like done about the situation.
Again, portray your professionalism. Generally, after the hosting company
has thoroughly checked out your claims, they will approach their client
and request that the offending material be omitted. If the website owner
does not heed the warnings of the hosting company, they will usually end
up with their website being removed from the web server and thus, from the
The next (or alternative) step for some may
be to slander the offender. This can involve telling others who are linked
on their page about how the offender stole your material, or telling the
organizations that the owner is a member of about their plagiarism.
Spreading the word. You can find out who these people or companies are by
delving a little further into their sites (unless, of course, they stole
your entire site… word for word…). Personally, I don’t think
anything good can come out of slander so I don’t recommend it.
That brings us to your last option,
prosecution. As each situation will be unique, the best person to get
advice from is an attorney. If possible, get a referral from any of your
How can your prevent copyright
Unfortunately, there really isn’t a
sure-fire way to stop the theft of copyright material. If someone is
determined to get your text or graphics, they will somehow accomplish it.
There are a few things you can try to deter
would-be thieves. Give them the impression that you are not going to go
down without a fight.
The first thing you should do is to include
a copyright notice on all of your work. At the bottom of each page, put
the © symbol, the year (ie, 2003 or 1998-2003), and who owns the
material, whether it is your company or yourself. You can also include,
“All Rights Reserved” or something to show your copyright ownership.
Second, you can install the ‘no right
will cause a pop up box to come up when someone right clicks their mouse
on your site warning the visitor that acquiring your material is not
allowed. Of course, there are several ways for would-be thieves to get
around this but it’s worth a try to include it.
You can also try putting a transparent
graphic over your entire page. The drawback to this is that it can cause
your page to load slower and it is also only one of those bandage
solutions that thieves can get around.
Some have tried putting their entire
website in Flash format. This can have a negative affect on your search
engine ranking, as there is no body text for the search engines to read
and use for indexing. Also, if your Flash is not compressed and optimized,
you will run into the problem of your site taking a long time to load
which can turn people away. And, if your visitor does not have the latest
Flash viewer installed, some aspects of your presentation could cause
Another means of proving the ownership of
the content is to include your copyright information in comment tags in
the HTML coding of your website. If a thief decides to steal your entire
page, they may not realize that you have inserted your own information in
inconspicuous places in the code and you will have a way of proving your
ownership. For search engine purposes, you should have your contact
information in the meta tags of your coding anyway but you should also
include the comment tags deep within the coding.
Part of the freedom of having an Internet
presence is that there may be others who think that everything on the
Internet is free for the taking. We know this is not true but there really
isn’t too much we can do to dissuade theft. You can try some of the
suggestions in this article but, as was mentioned, nothing is sure-fire
and if someone is determined to use your material, they will find a way to