Has Anyone Ever Stolen Your Source Code?

by mak25
24 replies
I came across an interesting development just a little while ago, and would like anyone's opinion and advice.

I make mobile web apps (ok - mobile sites if you will) for restaurants. I use Quentin's script that I bought as a basis for them.

A few weeks back I had an appointment with this place and they said they weren't interested.
As always, I have them see one of my clients sites on THEIR phone. That's never been a problem.
Until now.

I just found while checking my Google analytic's on one account I have, that the person who wasn't interested used my exact code to the 'T'. He even used certain images, although they are free to use. He used Quentin's script that I purchased. He basically just copied everything.

But the kicker is he even used my Google analytic code for the restaurant I showed him as an example on his phone.
That's how I found out about this.

I guess my question would be: Do I have any recourse for this?
Has this ever happened to anyone here?
If it has, what did you do about it?

I mean this moron copied everything including MY google code for a paid client.
He even used almost word-for-word my description tag wording.

I feel violated. And really pissed-off.

Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated.


Thanks
Mike
#code #source #stole
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    Welcome to the world of the internet.

    Its the nature of the beast.

    If you have good ideas they get stolen very quickly. Digital products in general get ripped off all the time by people looking to make easy money.

    It's a problem that won't go away anymtime soon.

    The answer is to continue to innovate and come up with better ideas then your competition to stay two steps ahead of them

    Crappy situation for you but doesn't sound that uncommon these days
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by Kevin Z View Post

      Welcome to the world of the internet.

      Its the nature of the beast.

      If you have good ideas they get stolen very quickly. Digital products in general get ripped off all the time by people looking to make easy money.

      It's a problem that won't go away anymtime soon.

      The answer is to continue to innovate and come up with better ideas then your competition to stay two steps ahead of them

      Crappy situation for you but doesn't sound that uncommon these days
      Kevin, you're suggesting that I just let this scumbag get away with theft?

      Let me get this straight. If I were to steal your new WSO, you're saying you would just shrug your shoulders and say:
      "Oh well, that's life on the internet?"

      C'mon man, you can't be serious.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
        Originally Posted by mak25 View Post

        Kevin, you're suggesting that I just let this scumbag get away with theft?

        Let me get this straight. If I were to steal your new WSO, you're saying you would just shrug your shoulders and say:
        "Oh well, that's life on the internet?"

        C'mon man, you can't be serious.
        Piracy/theft in the digital world is a problem that isn't going away anytime soon

        Imagine the tens of millions that are lost each year by people downloading music online? Can the record industry ever stop that? Are they going to go out and sue every Joe Shmoe that comes along and downloads Madonna's new track without actually paying for it?

        It's like playing whack a mole you knock one down two more pop up.

        Take it as a compliment, imitation is the best form of flattery.
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  • Profile picture of the author SJJPFTW
    Not much you can do about it buddy. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to move on.

    If you really want to just confront them with he evidence and ask them to pay up. If they don't approach your local chamber of commerce and see if they are a member and if they are explain the situation and ask them to approach for you.

    You probably won't get anything out of them but if you are willing to put in the time and effort go for it. Personally I would confront them about it and if they did not pay up id leave it at that. Maybe mail out a statement to them once a month or the outstanding balance for something.

    You have to weigh up the likelyhood of getting paid v the effort to chase it

    Good luck with it mate
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  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    Mike,

    You can look at it in a way that pisses you off, or you can say...

    wow, i must have dome some thing right.

    And you did. You sold them on the benefits of having a mobile website.
    and you made them take action.

    Maybe not the action you wanted. But action none the less.
    that means your doing your job as a salesman.

    Its not that long ago that you were having issues getting people interested.

    You are obviously over that hurdle, and that is a good thing.

    So my first instinct is to say, you pre-sold them, but you did not CLOSE them

    so now, that is what you need to work on. Your closing technique.

    btw. riff raff is everywhere, if you spend a bunch of energy trying
    to make these types of wrongs right, you will waste all your energy
    and most likely wont have anything to show for it.
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by kenmichaels View Post

      Mike,

      You can look at it in a way that pisses you off, or you can say...

      wow, i must have dome some thing right.

      And you did. You sold them on the benefits of having a mobile website.
      and you made them take action.

      Maybe not the action you wanted. But action none the less.
      that means your doing your job as a salesman.

      Its not that long ago that you were having issues getting people interested.

      You are obviously over that hurdle, and that is a good thing.

      So my first instinct is to say, you pre-sold them, but you did not CLOSE them

      so now, that is what you need to work on. Your closing technique.

      btw. riff raff is everywhere, if you spend a bunch of energy trying
      to make these types of wrongs right, you will waste all your energy
      and most likely wont have anything to show for it.
      Ken, appreciate the compliment as to finally 'getting it' as to how to market my product.
      Yes, I'm over that hurdle, and prospecting has gotten easier.

      But one thing you said left a bad taste in my mouth.
      You said I pre-sold him, but did not close him, and I need to work on my
      closing technique.

      That may be true in general, we can always get better, right?

      But if you would be so kind as to tell me how does one close a thief?
      Seriously, how in the hell do you close someone who has no intention of buying,
      but has every intention of stealing?

      I agree wasting time on scumbags like him is not in my best interest.
      But neither is letting people like this get away with thievery.

      I'm not clear yet as to what avenue to take, but there will be some action taken.

      I'm sure if someone stole food from his establishment, he would not let them
      get away with it. So why should I?
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      • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
        Originally Posted by mak25 View Post

        But if you would be so kind as to tell me how does one close a thief?
        Seriously, how in the hell do you close someone who has no intention of buying,
        but has every intention of stealing?
        You stumped me. I have no good answer for that.

        And the truth is, you are probably 100 spot on.

        I used to fight tooth and nail when i was wronged. I even wound
        up in a 11 year federal court battle. In the end, when the smoke cleared.

        None of it really mattered. None of it truly helped my situation.

        technically i "came out on top" but in reality, i was just wore out
        and bitter.

        That's me tho. I have since decided if i am going to go to war again
        i am going to make sure, what i go to war for is worth it.

        i think WillR gave the best advice, send a cease and desist,and be done with it.

        because, unless you can prove you sell mobile websites for > then 500.00
        worst case, is, it is just a misdemeanor offense ( for theft ). The next recourse
        is small claims court.

        by the time you sit through court until its your turn, then present
        and win or lose, you have already lost financially because you were
        not out bringing in new business.

        I have been were you are, it takes a while for the anger to fade ( for me anyway )

        I have just learned the trick ( again for me ) is to just move on.

        As far as putting a bad taste in your mouth... that so was not my intention
        you are one of the few people i follow around here.

        One of the few people i respect .. for your unending tenacity , and your
        blunt honesty.

        edit--

        I like rob2x idea as well. send his ass a bill, if he doesn't pay, send the cease and desist.
        and document everything... in-case you do decide to go to war.
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        • Profile picture of the author Brandon Tanner
          In addition to Will's suggestion about sending him a cease and desist, I would also do a WHOIS search on him to find out who his webhost and domain registrar are. And then contact both of them to let them know that one of their customers is hosting blatantly copyrighted content on their site, and that legal action will be taken if the issue is not promptly resolved.

          And if this person uses a payment processor on any of his sites, I would contact them too.
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          • Profile picture of the author mak25
            Originally Posted by Brandon Tanner View Post

            In addition to Will's suggestion about sending him a cease and desist, I would also do a WHOIS search on him to find out who his webhost and domain registrar are. And then contact both of them to let them know that one of their customers is hosting blatantly copyrighted content on their site, and that legal action will be taken if the issue is not promptly resolved.

            And if this person uses a payment processor on any of his sites, I would contact them too.
            Thanks Brandon. That's chock filled with great advice. If a fight ever broke out, I'd want you on my side.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    Mike,

    As others have mentioned you will come across idiots like this from time to time. The best thing you can do is to not waste too much of your time on them. If you do then they have won out.

    Simply send them a cease and desist letter and have them remove the website immediately. If it's your code then it is copyright and what they are doing is illegal. Give them a timeframe to take down the site and mention that your legal team will followup if they have not complied by them.

    But don't spend too much time on it. Just enough to scare them and move on.

    I don't necessarily agree with just ignoring the problem otherwise these people get worse and worse.
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      Mike,

      As others have mentioned you will come across idiots like this from time to time. The best thing you can do is to not waste too much of your time on them. If you do then they have won out.

      Simply send them a cease and desist letter and have them remove the website immediately. If it's your code then it is copyright and what they are doing is illegal. Give them a timeframe to take down the site and mention that your legal team will followup if they have not complied by them.

      But don't spend too much time on it. Just enough to scare them and move on.

      I don't necessarily agree with just ignoring the problem otherwise these people get worse and worse.
      Will, first off let me give you and Quentin a 'tip of the Hatlo hat' to both of you.
      Both of your WSO's got me into this business, and I am very grateful for that.

      The funny (or not so funny) thing about this 'genius' is that he copied my code from
      top to bottom. Including file names that I used that are weird names I chose just to
      be unique.

      Plus the idiot even included MY google account code. Now that skews the true
      numbers for that client's site. That in itself is annoying.

      I agree a 'cease and desist' letter is definitely on the order.
      Perhaps some sort of legal advice and involvement is also necessary.

      Also agree with you that just ignoring punks like this and letting them get away
      with theft, is just not something I can live with.

      Thanks for your input.
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      • Originally Posted by mak25 View Post

        Will, first off let me give you and Quentin a 'tip of the Hatlo hat' to both of you.
        Both of your WSO's got me into this business, and I am very grateful for that.

        The funny (or not so funny) thing about this 'genius' is that he copied my code from
        top to bottom. Including file names that I used that are weird names I chose just to
        be unique.

        Plus the idiot even included MY google account code. Now that skews the true
        numbers for that client's site. That in itself is annoying.

        I agree a 'cease and desist' letter is definitely on the order.
        Perhaps some sort of legal advice and involvement is also necessary.

        Also agree with you that just ignoring punks like this and letting them get away
        with theft, is just not something I can live with.

        Thanks for your input.
        Copy source code..... Attach with "cease & desist letter".....

        Like everyone is saying.... Just a bad, unlucky situation.



        Besides simply copying the source code...... What if the code wasn't copied, but the client implemented EVERYTHING you wanted him to, took all your recommendations but, "I'm going to talk with my current web guy" or "maybe we can talk in the future about this" and WITHIN A WEEK you see your recommendations being implemented, by another company or the owner himself.

        That's a tough pill to swallow...... Cuz someone got paid.... And it wasn't you.

        I'd rather a business owner steal my recommendations, then do business with another company.
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        • Profile picture of the author mak25
          Originally Posted by Marketinc Solutions View Post

          Copy source code..... Attach with "cease & desist letter".....

          Like everyone is saying.... Just a bad, unlucky situation.
          Thanks for repeating what's been offered and said.

          Besides simply copying the source code...... What if the code wasn't copied, but the client implemented EVERYTHING you wanted him to, took all your recommendations but, "I'm going to talk with my current web guy" or "maybe we can talk in the future about this" and WITHIN A WEEK you see your recommendations being implemented, by another company or the owner himself.

          That's a tough pill to swallow...... Cuz someone got paid.... And it wasn't you.

          I'd rather a business owner steal my recommendations, then do business with another company.
          Thanks for creating a scenario in your own mind that never happened. And then commenting on said scenario as to make yourself sound intelligent.

          What if, you never posted a response to my thread, and then the world slipped off it's axis and suddenly there weren't any smartphones and then we said "maybe we can in the future discuss what we thought about in the past". And then WITHIN A WEEK we all died.

          I'd rather someone post a reasonable reply then have to read your fiction and totally worthless thoughts.

          Now that's a tough pill to swallow.

          Here's another: are you by chance, the thief who stole my work???
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          • Originally Posted by mak25 View Post

            Thanks for repeating what's been offered and said.



            Thanks for creating a scenario in your own mind that never happened. And then commenting on said scenario as to make yourself sound intelligent.

            What if, you never posted a response to my thread, and then the world slipped off it's axis and suddenly there weren't any smartphones and then we said "maybe we can in the future discuss what we thought about in the past". And then WITHIN A WEEK we all died.

            I'd rather someone post a reasonable reply then have to read your fiction and totally worthless thoughts.

            Now that's a tough pill to swallow.

            Here's another: are you by chance, the thief who stole my work???



            Your style is to old for my taste....
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob28x
    I would send him a bill and act like you got the sale. Screen shot everything you can. He can't say that you didn't create the site for him when the website code goes to your google account.
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by Rob28x View Post

      I would send him a bill and act like you got the sale. Screen shot everything you can. He can't say that you didn't create the site for him when the website code goes to your google account.
      I'd rather send him a bill in person delivered by my guy 'Large Louis'.
      If he didn't pay, my guy 'Large Louis' could convince him that his decision wasn't really thought all the way through. You know, give him an offer he can't refuse.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nail Yener
    Copying an idea and making a similar product or website is acceptable in our market as long as it is considerably different from the original product. However, copying someone's work word for word or using the exact source code is really a dishonorable thing and unfortunately we don't have much things to do about this unless you have lawyers behind you or a lot of free time and a big budget to pursuit such things.

    In large scale corporations and businesses, serious actions are taken against such acts, but in your case, it is just a mobile website source code copied and even if you start a legal action (not sure if you can), they may change the code or remove the site before you can prove anything, or they may say it was a template that they used.

    I haven't come across someone stealing my custom designed mobile websites yet but I recently found a website that has the exact same design/code with one of my desktop sites. Even the HTML element and CSS selector names are the same. What this person has done is that he simply opened the source code of my website and copy + pasted it into his website. I contacted him about this and he told me that he had asked his designer to create a website similar to mine. And the end result is his designer copy + pasting my entire source code to create him a website. I don't understand how people can do such things.

    Mike, I don't think you can get anything from that person and you shouldn't really try to. What you can do is to let them know what they did is wrong.
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by Nail Yener View Post

      Copying an idea and making a similar product or website is acceptable in our market as long as it is considerably different from the original product. However, copying someone's work word for word or using the exact source code is really a dishonorable thing and unfortunately we don't have much things to do about this unless you have lawyers behind you or a lot of free time and a big budget to pursuit such things.

      In large scale corporations and businesses, serious actions are taken against such acts, but in your case, it is just a mobile website source code copied and even if you start a legal action (not sure if you can), they may change the code or remove the site before you can prove anything, or they may say it was a template that they used.

      I haven't come across someone stealing my custom designed mobile websites yet but I recently found a website that has the exact same design/code with one of my desktop sites. Even the HTML element and CSS selector names are the same. What this person has done is that he simply opened the source code of my website and copy + pasted it into his website. I contacted him about this and he told me that he had asked his designer to create a website similar to mine. And the end result is his designer copy + pasting my entire source code to create him a website. I don't understand how people can do such things.

      Mike, I don't think you can get anything from that person and you shouldn't really try to. What you can do is to let them know what they did is wrong.
      Thanks Nail. Life's a bitch sometimes. And yes this guy will know that I know what he did.
      I just need the weekend to get my thoughts and plans together.

      Appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay Moreno
    there is a lot of good advice for you to follow - if you are going to pursue absolutely make sure you get all the evidence that you can to prove they did steal your code - especially if you intend to go to small claims

    ie try and get the following:
    1) get screenshots with date stamp
    2) get the source code they are using as well as a screenshot again with the date
    3) get your analytic information

    Personally i would go with what Will had mentioned but would bundle it with an invoice too for the full amount of what you believe they owe you plus and additional costs for your cease and desist, etc

    That way they can always pay you what you are due or pull the site down - if they don't pull the site down by a given deadline at least then you can decide if you want to pursue it further
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by Jay Moreno View Post

      there is a lot of good advice for you to follow - if you are going to pursue absolutely make sure you get all the evidence that you can to prove they did steal your code - especially if you intend to go to small claims

      ie try and get the following:
      1) get screenshots with date stamp
      2) get the source code they are using as well as a screenshot again with the date
      3) get your analytic information

      Personally i would go with what Will had mentioned but would bundle it with an invoice too for the full amount of what you believe they owe you plus and additional costs for your cease and desist, etc

      That way they can always pay you what you are due or pull the site down - if they don't pull the site down by a given deadline at least then you can decide if you want to pursue it further
      Great advice from someone who's work I admire. Thanks my friend.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I have had this exact same thing happen to me several times so I know how annoying it is... a number of times have actually been people who have stolen my code and tried to sell it in their own products on this very forum. People never cease to amaze me.

    You will find in most cases that scare tactics are enough to resolve the issue.

    Something I didn't point out above which others have (and is very important) is to take screenshots of everything and find out as much as you can about them BEFORE you ever contact the person.

    Usually I will then send them an email with a very stern tone. I will mention what I have found, that what they are doing is illegal (that's an important word to include), that I have screenshots of everything so deleting files will not make the problem go away, I will also mention that if the files are not removed immediately I will be contacting their webhost (include the actual name of their webhost as it shows you've done your homework) and then tell them you expect a resolution and confirmation of the resolution within 48 hours or you will proceed with further legal action.

    Send that message to their email address and also see if that email address is listed in Facebook and if so, send the exact same message to their Facebook profile. Once again this lets them know you have done your homework and know a lot about them.

    These guys already know what they are doing is wrong and illegal so usually that's enough to stop them and a lot of times the sob stories then start. It was their programmers fault or they didn't realize it was your code or that it was copyrighted, and so on.
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      I have had this exact same thing happen to me several times so I know how annoying it is... a number of times have actually been people who have stolen my code and tried to sell it in their own products on this very forum. People never cease to amaze me.

      You will find in most cases that scare tactics are enough to resolve the issue.

      Something I didn't point out above which others have (and is very important) is to take screenshots of everything and find out as much as you can about them BEFORE you ever contact the person.

      Usually I will then send them an email with a very stern tone. I will mention what I have found, that what they are doing is illegal (that's an important word to include), that I have screenshots of everything so deleting files will not make the problem go away, I will also mention that if the files are not removed immediately I will be contacting their webhost (include the actual name of their webhost as it shows you've done your homework) and then tell them you expect a resolution and confirmation of the resolution within 48 hours or you will proceed with further legal action.

      Send that message to their email address and also see if that email address is listed in Facebook and if so, send the exact same message to their Facebook profile. Once again this lets them know you have done your homework and know a lot about them.

      These guys already know what they are doing is wrong and illegal so usually that's enough to stop them and a lot of times the sob stories then start. It was their programmers fault or they didn't realize it was your code or that it was copyrighted, and so on.
      Will, you are the man. That was filled with so much good information.

      Thank you again my friend. Come Monday not only will I be doing what you and several others have mentioned,
      but I have an attorney friend who will be helping me also.

      In a way this whole mess is kind of funny. My product wasn't good enough to buy,
      but is was good enough to steal.

      I want to squash this punk like an annoying little bug.

      Thanks again Will, and to all who contributed their advice.

      Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr Bill
    How did he get access to your php files? An easy way to stop people from being able to even see your files is to build a simple .htaccess file with the following codes...

    Code:
     
    IndexIgnore *
    The * is a wildcard that matches all files, so if you stick that line into an htaccess file in your images directory, nothing in that directory will be allowed to be listed when browsed for example if they were to type a directory name without a file name such as "h ttp://www.servername.com/images" or h ttp://www.servername.com/samples.

    Or if you would like to prevent certain files from being visible (while allowing others use this code...

    Code:
     
    IndexIgnore *.php *.html *.css *.htm *.js *.xml
    Then secure your .htaccess file with 644 or RW-R--R--

    Of course if you use plain old html files this would be more difficult unless you use a code locker to scramble your code.

    You probably already know but a .htaccess file is just a text file called "file.htaccess" on your machine (windows will insist on a name before an extension). Then just upload your file and when on the server remove the "file" from "file.htaccess" leaving just a filew called .htaccess.

    I know this is slightly off topic but it was a good time to mention it. The first thing I thought was "how did they get his files?"
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