View Full Version : Protecting your Website's Content from thieves and spammers

09-25-2005, 04:08 PM
I know this issue has been brought up a few times here in the past month or so. I wrote an article that summerizes the important points and posted it on my Web Publishing Blog today:

Worried about people stealing content from your websites? There is little need to be.

It only takes a little bit of effort to protect your website’s copyright from content thieves.

Here are two very good tools that you can use to locate and identify people copying your site’s content:


With Google news you can subscribe to “news alerts” through either e-mail or an RSS feed. Just put in your website or company name and you will be immediately alerted when it is referenced in a news article (a great tool for public relations too!)

I’ve noticed that some content theives have been using Google News. Unlike Copyscape, Google News only returns results from “news” sites.

Don’t hesitate to register your website’s copyright at the US Copyright Office: http://www.copyright.gov/register/.

Even if you don’t register you still recieve copyright protection of your original work. However, if you do not register you are only entitled to actual damages done by the person who violated your copyright. Register and you may be able to recieve $150,000 or more in claims against the person.

When copyrighted content is discovered most owners simply take the “cease and desist” path. They send a message to the copyright violator and their webhost damanding the removal of the content. Depending on your legal and financial resources this isn’t your only option.

Additionally you can use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act — DMCA for short — to have the violator’s page removed from Google’s index. Read more about it here: http://www.google.com/dmca.html Make sure you do everything correctly; inproper use of the DMCA will backfire on you as recent case law has proven.

09-25-2005, 05:31 PM
Thanks - cool guide cutter. D'ya know if as a Brit I can register my sites for US copyright? Similar question with DMCA. I think the technical answer is "no", but I suspect Google might be helpful if approached in the correct way?


09-25-2005, 06:09 PM
I'm not sure, I was actually wondering about that as I wrote it. I don't know a whole lot beyond US law.

I was looking here but I didn't see where to find register: http://www.patent.gov.uk/copy/index.htm

I don't know about the DMCA either. I believe there are some treaties in play.

I'll see if I can find more information about this..

09-26-2005, 03:22 AM
In the UK there is no 'registry' for copyright. It is automatically assumed at point of creation by the author. Obviously this makes it difficult to defend and some might argue easier to copy. But there have been court cases between publishers/authors etc in the past, so I guess the system *kind of* works.

There are of course trademarks and patents, but these are niches of the copyright spectrum, aimed at prevention of 'passing off' and giving a legalised 'monopoly' over a design or idea for a limited time to its inventor (respectively). I don't see either being particularly useful in a plain "he copied my site" type case.

All very interesting and complicated.

Blue Cat Buxton
09-26-2005, 05:57 AM
To add further complexity if the site is hosted on a server located in the US, but the content is owned by a UK entity, where does jurastiction lie?

09-26-2005, 06:00 AM
It really depends on where the copyright is registered created at. If the copyright owner is the US they can sue you in US court no matter where you live. If they win they can go after any assets you have that are under US control, that could include your domain name, bank accounts, etc. If the US has treaties for this sort of thing with the country you live in then they could go after your assets in your own country.

10-14-2005, 10:35 AM
My question then would be why can't you, or how do you get international copyright for your original content? If you look in the credits of movies and such, and with books they have something to the effect of "This work is covered under the International Copyright...." so why wouldn't this then work for original website content?

10-14-2005, 11:32 AM
It depends on treaties. There is no such thing as universal copyright or international copyright.

Your best bet: follow the laws of the country you live in.

10-14-2005, 03:34 PM
There are international copyright treaties that countries have signed. As far as I know, every country has signed these treaties now -- although this wasn't always the case.