What to do if my site is semi-copied?

6 replies
Hello folks,

I just saw that someone created a very similar site to mine. Same topics, same navigation, same headlines, same affiliate links and even the WP theme is same. Lolz.

I did run it through copyscape.com and the homepage is 5% same as mine, but the length and everything else is same. It seems like he only changed the wording a bit so it wouldn't count as duplicate.

Should I do something? Or is it legal?

#semicopied #site
  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    The forum's an awful place for "legal advice" but my guess is that it can't possibly be legal.

    I'd probably send the hosting company (discoverable through sites like who-hosts.com) a DMCA site take-down notice, with copies to the webmaster, the registrar and Google, and see what effect it has.

    Here are the instructions (this is from Suzanne's website - have a good read): http://domainingdiva.com/what-you-ca...ipoff-artists/

    And I wish you very good luck in resolving it: situations like this are pretty irritating!

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    • Profile picture of the author kilgore
      I'm with Alexa -- I'm not a lawyer, but what you described definitely doesn't seem legal. If I took a New York Times best seller, reworded it a bit, used a different font and slapped on a new cover, I'd certainly be running afoul of the law. Your situation sounds similar. And as Alexa advised, the DMCA is going to be your best bet for clearing this up.

      Your challenge is that because the two sites aren't identical, whoever eventually gets your DMCA complaint may not initially see that they did in fact steal your content. If you're lucky, he's using a cheap host like GoDaddy. Hosts like that tend to think that $5/month isn't worth risking a potential lawsuit for. But even so, I'd make sure that you detail in your letter the exact nature of the copying, i.e., that it's not word for word, but that large amounts of text, navigation, etc. have been copied so that they know exactly what they should be looking for.

      I once had a similar situation and I provided a spreadsheet with hundreds of rows, with each row detailing the URL of my page and the corresponding URL from the offending site. This way the web host got a sense of the scale of the copying, even if the pages themselves weren't exactly alike. If there's something like that you can put together, it can definitely strengthen your argument.

      Good luck! I know how much of a pain this is!
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  • Profile picture of the author Lightlysalted
    Excellent advice Alex Smith - go with this as your first point of call
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  • Profile picture of the author BDazzler
    I have served as an expert witness in Federal Court on software copyright. What you describe is not "right", but it is probably legal, in that you have to prove it. If you believe he took your intellectual property and claimed it as his own ... you can file a law suit, subpoena the web site's source code, hire an expert witness (not me, I'm not interested) for about $100 - $500 per hour to have the parts of the site you claim are copied analyzed. If the court finds that he did steal your intellectual property, . You are entitled to every dime he ever made from the web site. Which you will also have to prove. If you win, they will have to pay your attorney fees. If you lose, you will.

    He will also be subject to the criminal terms of the Digital Menial Copyright Act which can be up to $1M in fines.

    Because of the potential criminal exposure, you may file a DMCA form with the web host stating that your intellectual property was stolen and in use by their client. They may take it down to avoid trouble.

    You should do that anyway, even if you don't plan to sue. If you do sue, and they don't take it down,your attorney can tell you if the host can be sued too.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sitestomp
    You could always send them an email requesting they change it due to copyright violation. Also send a copy of the email to their hosting provider. Most people will avoid legal trouble whenever possible, so it's worth a shot. If they don't comply, I'm afraid there's not too much else you can do outside of getting legal help.
    ** Professional, Quality, and Experienced Conversion Website Designer **
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  • Profile picture of the author MeelisM
    I would send them an e-mail threatening them with suing them.

    You will eighter get no reply or they will change the site.

    You can also ask for $$$

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