How To Detect Website Copy Infringement

Has Someone Stolen Your Site Content?

I received an email a couple of weeks ago asking me if I recognised some copy that was on another website. I certainly did as it was from the Bold Internet home page. The person that had sent me the email also should have recognised it as she wrote it!

Fortunately for me, Nikki de Villiers of The Word Well just happened to be doing some random searches of her copy using the wonderful Copyscape service and chanced upon this copy infringement.

A web marketing company from South Africa had taken a shine to our home page copy and decided to use it on one of their pages. It's not in my nature to name names but there is a clue in the image below if you look carefully:

Tisco Media Copy Rip Off

I routinely use Copyscape ‘though hadn't in this case and appreciate Nikki taking the time to flag up to me. They offer a free ‘page at a time‘ service though the premium service is inexpensive and highly recommended if you have lots of pages and/or copy to check.

Copyscape provides the means to spot where copy has been duplicated but how do you know who the originator was or when the web page was first published? In this case, of course, I have the original brief, copy and invoice for the work we paid for. If that doesn't exist, then you could try the Wayback Machine – In this instance, that didn't work, presumably because the offending page was fairly new.

So now I turned to the consistently brilliant Digital Inspiration blog and this article – Find the date when a web page was first published on the Internet.

Date web page first publishedSo that would be some time after ours was first published then? Yes it would.

What Can You Do If Someone Steals Your Copy?

What can you do about it? In reality, not a lot. In my case, I sent an email and the South African site owner did reply initially but nothing happened subsequently. I tried emailing again and then made a ‘phone call but the page is still live, apparently my request ignored. I want to save my air miles for a holiday so won't be going any further with this.

Hopefully it won't happen to you but, if it does, hopefully it will be a genuine error and the site owner will be a decent person who will make amends. If not, and you really want to lodge a complaint, you could investigate the process outlined here: How to write a DMCA take down request. Not for the faint hearted but if you've invested lots of time and/or money in your copy, then this may be the only option. Or, use your air miles. 😉

Despite preferring this hadn't happened, I hope this post has been useful for you.

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