When starting out online and looking for readership and attention, people can’t get enough of visitors and website traffic. Whether it be a business, individual, or even a blog writer, popularity means more readers and site visitors. Even law offices and corporations enjoy a well-visited website with their name on it. However, when popularity becomes problematic as people start copying and stealing material without even so much as a credit back to the original authority, then the author needs to take action. Protecting intellectual property online is hard. It’s very easy to cut and paste material, and slap a name on it as original work on another website. However, there are solutions.
Authors need to first get a handle on how copyright law works. When a work is published, U.S. copyright law immediately protects its ownership. That said, it’s up to the owner to enforce those rights. The first method is the easiest; add a label with the copyright symbol and name on the written work. This makes it clear the intellectual property is owned to the reader. It helps to make the label visibly clear so it can be seen without much trouble, but don’t be overbearing about it.
Following the notices try to first communicate with people and websites you find stealing material. Not everyone does so maliciously. Many times such websites are designed by folks are new to the idea of copyright in general, and they simply assume if material is on the web it must be free. A simple notification and request for removal can get most posters to take the stolen material off. Many will just apologize and make amends. A few will be a pain.
If they’re not going to be cooperative, then a demand for immediate removal of the stolen material is next. This involves sending a clear message that the intellectual property is owned, the notice is there for everyone to see, and the material is stolen and must be removed from the second website. If the response does not cooperate, the same message can be sent to the website’s hosting company which usually doesn’t want to be responsible for hosting stolen material. They can arbitrarily kill the violating website if they choose to.
Finally, if all the communication above doesn’t work, a legal action may be necessary. A choice needs to be made whether the cost of the legal services is worth the trouble, but if so, the lawyer instead sends a strong-worded message to remove the stolen material or risk a lawsuit. In 99% of the cases, this last resort option gets a reaction and removal.
However, all this monitoring can take up a lot of time and energy. This is where Reputationobserver’s Online Reputation Management Suite can fill the gap. Instead of chasing and performing all the basic communications to violating websites, our reputation service can instead take care of the daily monitoring and warnings. Reputationobserver provides reports that summarize all the problem sites found and the actions taken.