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Dealing with thieves in real life is bad, but meeting them online any better. Having the things you’ve been working on for a long time stolen — sucks. In this article we’re going to review some very effective ways how you can fight online stealing, mostly relating to websites. The things which have to be considered as stolen must be related to the website concept, layout, functionality and features. Content should also be considered, however it is much harder to prove that a custom post belongs to you — it should be identical (copied) in order to prove that the original content was posted on your website. For domain names, there is just a single way on how to show that you’re the only person who has the right to use a name in the domain — trademarking the domain! A great example is how Facebook has tried trademarking the “face” word in the online world, by this starting a “domination” on the internet.
If you notice someone has an identical website design/features like yours, this doesn’t always mean that the person behind the website is a thief. Maybe he doesn’t even know about the existence of your page on the internet! You can send them just a simple letter wherein you, with respect, explain the situation created. But be sure not to send such kind of letters if you know that the design/concept used on your website is not a template — as templates for sure are used not only by you but lots of people around the web, so in such case you cannot complain about anything. If you really notice your unique design being used elsewhere, there are many chances you’ll get a positive answer.
Usually this kind of copying is regulated after sending a complaint letter, but if it was not, you must start real actions against that website and owner. Nowadays it is easy to find who is behind that web address. It is also easy to find the domain and hosting provider. Most popular companies do not respect copying/stealing and can even ban websites which are enterprising such activity. Do it, and see the results.
If you want to get a result out of your actions, you should do a direct attack to the heart of your enemy. Try to contact the advertisers of that webpage and tell them what kind of activity is ruled by the owners, eventually, some advertisers may leave them, so they will be more vulnerable and they may understand who they are dealing with. Advertisers always care about the product or website they’re promoting as their reputation is much more important than a single website they are using for publicity.
Google is the biggest and the most popular search engine. Everyone who owns a website or blog or webpage, or whatever is placed on the web, is really afraid of Google penalties. Many people check websites’ popularity not only by looking at the visitors and pageviews (which are usually not available for everyone), but by looking at the page rank of the website and also the backlinks. Google really does have an easy-to-complete form in order to suggest a website to be considered for elimination from the web search. Of course the duration of the process will not be 1 or 2 days. It could even be months, and also the results will not be positive for sure. The inspection process may just be an alternative for you not the primary offense, as the results are not guaranteed.
If everything listed above didn’t help, it’s time to take the final step in this unhappy adventure. In my opinion just a notice for that thief will usually be enough. You should really prove that you will be acting on a legal level as soon as possible. The chances the thief will be ignoring or “fighting” with you are very, very small. Persons who have stolen the website concept, features or content will be apprehensive of a legal process, when justice is on your side. If the enemy still doesn’t want to end things peacefully, it’s time to start the legal process. You will have a very big advantage in this process, if your website is fully copyrighted. Copyright text placed in a website footer doesn’t copyright the respective site, it just makes a small notice. To get your website copyrighted properly you must follow the instructions given on the keytlaw website, in the online works copyright registration department. Of course, copyright laws vary from country to country. A Digital Millenium Copyright Act must also be transmitted — a document which doesn’t allow using, in our case stealing, online property. Be careful that you may fail the legal process, if your website has not been copied fully, but just partially inspired from. This kind of process works almost for any type of digital property. It does not matter if the respective website is getting revenue from your stuff or not. But if they did sell your work, they’ve not only stolen, they have also sold copyrighted things and goods, which is totally against every country’s law. The legal process must be started in the country where the eventual thief is located. If your enemy is located in a country/city different from yours, and you do really want to get him punished by law, you’ll have to hire a lawyer, who will be representing your part, in the time of your absence. Be sure to find the best time of starting the fight in justice, because it isn’t an easy thing to be done, and it also requires spending (a lot) of money.
Before you start the anti-theft process, be very certain that you’re not simply confused and the artwork is indeed stolen. If it’s just a simple trait which looks almost like yours or the same combination of colors, it doesn’t mean it’s stealing, maybe the person just got inspired, and not necessarily from you. Also do not start the serious ‘legal’ steps if your website has a more general look and isn’t incredibly unique. Also be sure, that you find identical or almost the same code lines in the other website which has the same/exact features as yours. Remember, re-checking always helps!
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