Copyright protection for a web site is just as enforceable as it is for traditional media. U.S. copyright law states that electronic files—including web files—are copyrighted the moment they’re put into a tangible form, even if they’re not on display to the general public. Protected web files may include the site’s content, code, scripting, graphic images, sound and video files.
“One way to determine if your site’s content has been stolen is to use the search engines,” said Matt Naeger, Vice President and General Counsel at IMPAQT. “The primary way is to see your copy in the search results. Copy-paste an extended piece of text from your web site and see what other web sites show up for that same text. Typically two sites shouldn’t legitimately show up for the exact same web copy. I would say I have seen higher rates of recidivism, if you can show publication through the search engine.”
If part of a site’s content has been stolen, one course of action is to send a cease-and-desist letter to the alleged online thief or an intermediary.
“A lot of ways these things are resolved is by going after an intermediary, so you don’t have to go to court directly with the infringer if there’s somebody else that’s pulling the strings,” said Eric Goldman, Assistant Professor of Law at Marquette University School of Law. “Send a notice to an intermediary, like a web host, and get them to take down content that is alleged to be infringing. You do have to do a little homework, but it is still pretty easy to do, and most of the times it can be resolved.”
Additionally, Goldman has found that sending a notice on a legal firm’s letterhead and citing the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is also a good way of getting people to remove infringed content.
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