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Category Archives: Online Content Thieves

What Every Copyright Owner Should Know About Pinterest

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What every copyright owner should know about Pinterest

A relative new kid on the social media block, Pinterest is growing quickly, with rating figures suggesting that UK traffic increased almost 50% between December and January alone.

Perceived as being particularly attractive to women, the attraction of the site is obvious: users can create virtual “pinboards”, grouping together images and other content under their own profile, then sharing them with their followers.

Pinterest’s terms and conditions require users either to own, or have obtained the right to use, any content which they pin. One estimate, however, is that 99% of pins don’t comply with this requirement.

Should you worry if your content is being copied without your knowledge or consent, or without linking back to you as the original source? The consequences are potentially serious: you lose control of how your images are seen and presented, risking real damage to your brand.

What Can You Do?

Pinterest offers two tools for copyright holders to use:

  • “Pin It” Button. Added to your website, as with Twitter and Facebook buttons, this acts as a kind of virtual permission slip and means that if your customers pin your content to their boards, your details and description go with it. On the site’s Goodies page, there are instructions and a video tutorial on how to install the “Pin It” Button.
  • “Opt Out”. Within its “Help” section, Pinterest have now added a line of code which website owners can use to block their content to help business start up and small business owners protect their online content. Anyone trying to copy content which has been protected will receive the message: “This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”
  • If your material is already on Pinterest without your consent and you want it to be taken down, the site also offers the option to submit a Copyright Infringement Notification.

    © Suzanne Dibble, small business law expert 2012

    Eight steps to beating the online content thieves without paying ££££££ to lawyers

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    copyright infringement

    People copying your website content, your articles and your blog posts is really galling, especially when they are ranking higher in the search engines than you…

    Follow these 7 simple steps to assert your rights to your content and make the “thief” take down your content.

    Step one – identify the content theft

    The most obvious is a Google search – search for a “statistically improbably phrase” that is only likely to appear in your content – about 6 to 12 words should be about right.

    If you get a message similar to this one:

    “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 1 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”

    then click the link and repeat the search. This means, quite literally, that other pages on the Web have content almost identical content to your own and you definitely need to follow up.

    There are a number of other free tools that can help you identify any theft such as Copyscape, Plagium and, for images, TinEye or Google Images.

    Step 2 – Gather evidence of theft

    Take a screenshot of the offending content clearly showing the url on which it is published and save it which will provide evidence of the date you viewed it.

    Step 3 – gather evidence of your ownership

    Check through your files and identify all drafts and versions of the content so that you can show the date on which you created it.

    You can also compare the source codes of the offending site with your site and take evidence of exactly how much of your content, including your code, was stolen.

    Check that you actually own the copyright – laws on this differ around the world but in the UK, copyright arises automatically on the creation of an original work and is owned by the creator. You don’t need to register it to benefit from copyright protection although it may help you establish ownership. If the work was commissioned from a third party, they will own the copyright (even if you paid them) so you need to check that copyright has passed to you by way of an appropriate assignment.

    Finally, check that the “thief” hasn’t legally used your work under a fair dealing or fair use exception or similar.

    Step 4 – email the thief

    With a little detective work, you can usually find some contact information about the thief. As well as the obvious About and Contact Us pages, you might want to check the footer notes and the meta tags.

    Once you have a contact name, address, or email, you can find out more on WHOIS, Alexa or just by googling them.

    When you email the thief you should remain professional at all times and (i) inform them of the theft, (ii) assert your right to copyright ownership, (iii) request the removal, correction or modification of the content and/or compensation, (iv) ask for a response within 5 days from the date of your email and (v) explain that you are willing to take this further by contacting their advertisers to inform them of the infringement, contacting their hosting company to request take down of the content or disabling of the website and issuing proceedings against them. An example email is in the Checklist referred to at the end of this article.

    Step 5 – send a Cease and Desist Letter

    A Cease and Desist Letter is just a formal letter that says “Stop or Else” and shows that you are serious. Give them 24 to 36 hours to respond.

    The Cease and Desist Letter will include some or all of the following:

    • Description of the copyright infringement and the theft of intellectual property.
    • A requirement that they cease and desist from infringing your copyright.
    • A clear timetable for response.
    • A requirement to remove or destroy the page with the stolen content.
    • An assertion that they will be liable for any and all solicitor’s fees, court costs, and damages.
    • Your intention to send copies of this Cease and Desist Letter to their ISP, hosting company and advertisers to let them know of the infringement.
    • A clear statement that you will take further legal action if this is not resolved to your satisfaction by the deadline.
    • A demand for a payment of all profits and income derived from use of the infringing content.
    • A demand for compensation for any and all profits and income that you have lost due to the copyright theft.
    • A demand for compensation for any lost profits, income, and reputation.
    • A clear statement about how they are to respond to you eg by phone, email, in writing (mail), and if they are to respond directly to you or to your lawyer.

    Step 6 – contact advertisers

    Another bit of leverage you have is to contact the businesses advertising on the offending website.

    If you don’t receive a reply to your Cease and Desist Letter, send the advertisers a letter or email outlining the specific copyright violations and copies of your requests to stop and the Cease and Desist letter.

    This is normally enough for the advertisers to pull their adverts from the offending site.

    Step 7 – issue a Take Down notice

    According to EU law, hosting companies are not liable for infringing information, provided that they have no actual knowledge of any illegal activity, and that on obtaining such knowledge they act “expeditiously” to remove or disable access to the information.

    So if you issue a Take Down Notice to the hosting company, they will have actual knowledge of an illegal activity and are bound to take steps to remove or disable access to the information.

    Step 8 – file a DMCA complaint with Google

    A DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint with Google won’t physically remove the stolen pieces from the server but will de-index them from Google, so as a result they won’t be getting a lot of traffic and certainly won’t rank higher than your originals.

    So there you have it – hopefully if you follow these steps, you will at the very least have succeeded in the infringing content being taken down from the web and may even have recovered some compensation. If you are struggling, consult a lawyer to determine your options going forwards.

    If you want to grab a copy of your Copyright Protection Checklist that will help you to follow these steps and provide a plan to protect your online content, click here.

    If you want to get hold of all of the documents mentioned in this article and 60 or so more, then check out our online Legal Academy that provides a very cost effective way to protect your business against all common legal issues.

    Disclaimer

    Although the concepts in this article have global application, the information contained in the article is based on English law only and is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to amount to advice on which reliance should be placed. Suzanne disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on such information. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the above contents.

    How to stop people stealing your online content

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    copyright infringement

    Part 1 – how to identify content theft and find your stolen content

    In the first of this 3 part series about how to stop people stealing your online content, we will look at how you can identify content theft before in part 2 looking at what you can do to prevent content theft going forwards and finally turning to what steps you can take when someone has stolen your online content in part 3.

    Content is king and these days any business who wants to go places puts an awful lot of time and effort into producing quality content. So it is particularly galling when one of your competitors comes along and rips off your last blog post that you spent hours putting together.

    So what can you do to identify content theft – after all the world wide web is a big place…

    Well there are certain things you can do immediately to check on content that is already out there and whether it is infringing your copyright in any way.

    1. Do a Google search for a statistically improbably phrase

    Search on Google (or your search engine of choice) for a statistically improbably phrase that is only likely to appear in your content – about 6 to 12 words should be about right.

    If you get a message back like this one:

    “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 1 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”

    then you need to click the link and repeat the search. This means, quite literally, other pages on the Web have content almost identical content to your own and you definitely need to follow up. While it could be another page on your site, it could also be someone who has stolen your content.

    If you are searching for images, you can right click on your image and click on ‘copy image location’ or ‘copy image address’ (of if you are using Internet Explorer just click on properties) and then search for that copied image location. On your google search click on ‘search by image’ and the results will bring up a list of images and where they are being used.

    2. Copyscape – www.copyscape.com

    Copyscape is a great free tool. Simply enter the url of the page your content is on and run the search. Copyscape also provide free badges that you can download and add to your site saying “protected by Copyscape, do not copy”

    3. Plagium – www.plagium.com

    Plagium checks for duplicate content in a similar way to Copyscape but it can also scan news sites and social networks. You can also adjust the algorithm to make it stricter or more relaxed. Plagium is free but donations are accepted.

    4. TinEye – www.tineye.com

    To check whether someone has stolen your images, what you need is a way to perform a reverse image search – where a smart search engine looks for a photo by detecting identical content within the image itself, rather than keying in file names or metadata (as these are easily changed).

    To use TinEye, you can upload a photo from your computer or point to a Web page that already hosts the photo. TinEye then returns a list of sites using the same image.

    TinEye isn’t a perfect solution – it often identifies photos that are similar to, but not exactly the same as, the source image. And its database of photos represents only a tiny part of what’s available on the internet, so if you do get zero results, that doesn’t necessarily mean your image isn’t being used out there somewhere.

    5. Bing search – www.bing.com

    The new-ish Bing search engine lets you hone in on “similar” images when doing  an image search. This can lead you to images that are being used on multiple sites.

    All you have to do is go www.bing.com and click on images, then search for a photo. When you see the results, hover over an image that interests you. Click “Show similar images,” and Bing will show results that might contain the same image on a different site.

    This has it’s own problems in that you can’t start with a specific photo, you have to use the right search terms instead. And once you find your image, finding infringing images is still far from a sure thing.

    So that should be enough to get you started with. In the next part we will look at what you can do when publishing your content on the net to prevent it being stolen and finally in part 3 we will look at what you can do about it, including how to force the infringer to take down your content.

    If in the meantime, you want to download our invaluable Copyright Protection Checklist – please click on the following link and download the checklist with my compliments:

    //jz993.infusionsoft.com/app/form/copyrightprotectionchecklist

    © Suzanne Dibble 2013

    Disclaimer:   The information contained above is based on English law only and is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the above contents. Suzanne disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article. 

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