We’ve been working on redesigning our website, as the original web design was created in 2004 when Clear HR Consulting was launched.  There have been many modifications to our site over the years, but the basic design is the same.  While reviewing some website templates for our new website, I came across a template that used our current home page text – verbatim!

Here’s our home page:

Here’s the template that used our content:

Shocked, I emailed the website template seller to ask them to remove our copyrighted content from the template – no response.  We had our corporate lawyer write a “cease and desist” letter to their corporate headquarters – again no response. We didn’t want to spend more money and energy chasing after them, so we let the matter drop.

A few months later, we were made aware of Copyscape, a website that searches the internet for other websites that are plagiarizing yours.  When we checked some our webpages, we found several cases of other websites copying our copyrighted content.  In one case, they had taken the entire look of our website!

We emailed the contact people for a number of these websites directly asking them to remove the copyrighted content.  In many cases, it was done quickly and without fuss. Some blamed the “intern” for the oversight. For example, the Aurelius website has now completely disappeared. However, in other cases, there was no response or action.

It was then that a friend and colleague of ours made us aware of the DMCA complaint process. Basically, there is copyright law (Digital Millenium Copyright Act -DMCA) that imposes significant penalties on those who fail to remove content that violates copyright. When you file a DMCA complaint with a webhost or a social media platform, they have to ask their client to remove the copyrighted content, and if they do not, they will then take down the offending webpage(s). So within days of filing a number of DMCA complaints, all of the offending content that violated our copyright have been taken down, including the website template from above. Best of all, no additional legal fees!

What are the lessons ? {Remember – we are not providing legal advice – please consult your lawyer for legal advice}

  • Post a copyright notice on your intellectual property – e.g.: Copyright 2012 Clear HR Consulting Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Scan the internet for copyright violations, using such tools as copyscape.com
  • Use Whois.com to determine the webhost of the offending website
  • Search the FAQ of major social media platforms or webhosts to find out their DMCA complaint process
  • Use the specified DMCA complaint language in your correspondence to offending parties, webhost, social media platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, Google) to ask for the copyrighted content to be removed
  • Follow-up to make sure there are no repeat offenders.

We hope that you won’t need to use these lessons to have your plagiarized content removed from other sites, but in case you do, it can be done relatively quickly and cost-effectively.

 

Copyright 2012 Clear HR Consulting Inc. All rights reserved.