Tips, News and Comments on HTML Guard


March 26th, 2010, by Andreas

How to Respond to Copyright Violations

Although HTML Guard’s functions provide a good level of protection against content theft, they cannot guarantee 100% security. As a result, it’s still possible that your images, texts and code are being copied and used elsewhere without permission. In such a case, you should act as soon as possible to protect your copyright and have the stolen content removed.

1. Preserve the Evidence

After finding stolen content, your first step should be to preserve the evidence. Having a copy of the infringing website helps to verify the copyright violation in case the website is modified or shut down after contacting the owner. There are several ways to document the copyright infringement:

  • Print out a physical copy of the website in question along with its URL and the current date
  • Print out a copy of the website to a PDF printer like PDFCreator or PrimoPDF
  • Save single web pages with the browser’s “Save as” function
  • Download the complete website using an offline downloader like HTTrack or Offline Explorer
  • Screen capture the website in the browser via the PrintScreen key or a screenshot tool like Snagit

Additionally you should gather proof that you are the original copyright owner of the content:

  • Search the Wayback Machine for archived versions of your web pages
  • Search your hard drive or your backup media for the oldest available copy of your stolen content
  • Search your notes and emails, etc., for sketches or any other material that proves your ownership of the content

2. Contact the Violator

Often a concise, non-threatening email or phone call is all it takes to get the copied content removed from a website. Many people simply are not aware that they violate the copyright of the author when they copy web content without prior permission. Your first email could look something like this:

Dear Jane Doe:

It has recently come to my attention that copyrighted material from original.com is being used on your website copy.com without attribution or permission.

Your copy: http://www.copy.com/page.html
My original work: http://www.original.com/page.html

I would appreciate if you could please remove the content. Thank you for your prompt attention.

John Smith

In case you can’t find any contact details on the offending website, a WHOIS search on the domain name may help.

3. Contact the Hosting Provider

If the plagiarist doesn’t respond to your friendly request, you should turn to something a bit more drastic. One option is to contact the company that hosts the offending content, advising them to shut down the site.

To Whom It May Concern:

It has recently come to my attention that one of the websites on your web server, copy.com, hosts several instances of plagiarized content. This content is being used without my permission. I’m the original author of the material and have full copyright. The offending works can be found at:

http://www.copy.com/page.html

These should be compared to the original works, which can be found at:

http://www.original.com/page.html

As the owner of the offending website doesn’t respond to my removal requests, I am asking you to suspend the site as soon as possible. Otherwise, I will be obliged to take legal action to enforce my copyright.

Sincerely,

John Smith

An easy way to find out who is hosting a particular website is to use WhoIsHostingThis.

4. Go the Legal Route

If the content thief refuses to remove the disputed material, you should consider hiring an attorney and getting legal advice. The lawyer can at least send an intimidating ‘cease and desist’ letter on formal letterhead, warning the plagiarist of the potential legal implications of his actions.