3 minute read.

What to do when content is stolen?

Should you deal with  a copyright infringement? Why bother if you think the violation is not harmful. But before jumping to that conclusion it makes sense to check if you are losing traffic, sales potential or reputation. Eventually, if you decide to tackle the copyright violations, you can take a number of steps. let’s discuss them.

Approach the infringer

It is obvious to start with the person or organisation who has infringed your copyright. You sent a letter and ask to remove the duplicate. In many cases it is an effective method. To give you an idea: 98% of the infringers we approach immediately agree. It’s a good way to get in touch and ask for a backlink. You may even be able to do business. After all, there is interest in the content. Keep in mind that most people have no knowledge of copyright law.

Ask the host to remove the content

You may not get any response. Or you have no idea who manages a website. In that case it makes sense to approach the host. This organisation is responsible for the platform on which the website runs. In most countries the host is required to cooperate with an infringement removal. It’s not to say the procedure is made easy for you. In the end, the host will coorporate, and remove the webpage.

Contact the platform responsible for traffic

Contacting Google, Bing, Instagram or any other platforms is a procedure similar to contacting the host. The result is different. The copyright infringement is not removed, but traffic to it is ended. It is not an easy procedure and it takes time. Platforms are reluctant to remove links. One reason for this is that the procedure is being abused. In this way, the parties try to eliminate competitors. Another reason is that it takes a lot of manual work.

Legal case

A legal case is a serious option if copyright violations seriously harm your business. Always make a reasonable proposal first, in line with the case law in your country. Based on my experience, usually a deal is made before going to court. But sometimes the counterparty refuses a deal. For example because they are convinced that copyright does not apply to their case. You will then have to continue, because other offenders keep an eye on how far you are willing to go. Make sure that your content is unique and that you have captured its origin. If you have your affairs in order you will most likely win the case. Chances are high it never comes that far, because the court will insist that you talk again and settle the matter.

Legal cases can bring in cash and the reward, but it takes time, lawyers are expensive and you might get some negative feedback. Don’t go asking for money if you are dealing with a real person, that had no intention to use your work in a commercial context. Not only collecting the money is hard but it is rather unsympathetic to claim money from a person. You are not making a good impression in the media.

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.