Web design can get ugly when people start stealing your work. The most common type of plagerism online is content, images, and design. Whether you’ve been a victim or not it’s good to know what the best course of action is. In this article I’ll be exploring a few situations my company has been in, and how to came to a solution.

This article from Freelance Switch goes into great detail about the best ways to do this.

Step 1

The first thing you should do upon seeing or being notified of this type of behavious is to take a snapshot of the duplicated content. You’ll want this as ammunition should you ever need to take action further down the road. If you forget this step the Internet Archive and Google cache can be very useful.

Step 2

The best next step is to contact the perpetrator and kindly let them know that they’re breaching your companies copyright and you are requesting that they remove the content. More often then not this is the only nudge you need to give them, it’s remarkable how well this tactic works. Must be the feelings of guilt and shame eating them up inside :) . If you go in too hard too early they can get defensive and might go on the offensive straight away.

Step 3

If step 2 didn’t work and you didn’t hear back from them or they refused to take down the work, you’ll need to start thinking about how important this is for you. If this is a larger company, you can threaten legal action, and more likely then not they will comply as they understand the problems a legal fight can bring. If they are a small company or even one man show, you might need to ask yourself if they pose a threat to you, and if you think taking this to the next level is going to do any good. Maybe you can make your content even better? If they’ve stolen your portfolio or website design it becomes a little more personal and important.

I would recommend having a lawyer draft up a response stating various legal terms and the copyright infringement policies they’re infringing upon. In this email I would attach the evidence you took in step 1 to demonstrate how serious your are. Make sure to mention the DMCA (Digital Mellennium Copyright Act).

If you have any other suggestions please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

  • lukad

    Oh the irony.

  • Simon

    A bit of plagiarism from the dictionary wouldn’t go astray…

  • jrpereira

    Good post.

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