“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Well, you might not be very flattered when you find parts of your book, a blog post you wrote or an image you took, on somebody’s website or book. What can do to prevent it? And what can you do when this happens? Here is a brief overview, more details in part 2 of this series.
Copyright infringement can even be a source of income for you, if you charge the thieves : )
- How to find copyright infringements
- How to track down the perpetrator
- How to register your copyright
- Where to find a copyright lawyer
- How much can you charge
- How to document the theft
- How to use Google Cache and get Google to de-index
How to find copyright infringements
This task can be done for free with the help of Copyscape.com, a program that searches for plagiarism online and identify content theft. Just type in the URL of your original content, and Copyscape shows you right away where your content can be found on the internet.
You can also pay Copyscape if you need even more advanced service.
You can also use Google Alerts to find your content on the Internet. Just type in your contents’ keywords. And get alerts via email.
How to track down the perpetrator
Ever heard about the website inquiry “Who Is”, which shows you who owns or registered a website, for example the one from your contents thieve? Use www.Godaddy.com and type in the domain name and click on “Who Is”, which will show you the registrant, technical and administrative support of the website. Books show name or pen name and the publisher, sometimes even the printer, layout-er or editor. Infringements on e-books can be reported to retailers, such as Amazon.
How to document the theft:
- Make screen shots of the infringing site
- download the actual page so you have the source code
- make screen shots of your own website with the copyright information
- make a screen shot of the Google search results
- Was your image metadata on the infringing site removed:
- that’s a further offence, and you should screen shot it for evidence.
How to use Google Cache and get Google to de-index
Google’s cache can be used in copyright lawsuits since it’s cache content can serve as a proof of a website’s old content.
Whole websites or individual URL’s may also be de-indexed by Google as per US DMCA requirement in case anybody complains about illegal stuff infringing on somebody else’s copyright.
More details about Google’s de-index and cache. Google offers a support site for “Removing Content”
How to register your copyright
It is not required for an author to register your work or even provide a notice. But… there are reasons to protect yourself and what you created. Proving your claim can be a very difficult matter without proper evidence. If anyone steals your manuscript, you will not only have proof of copyright ownership, but you are also able to sue for Statutory Damages and attorney fees. Find addresses where you can register (also online) in a former blog post “What Every Writer Needs to Know About Copyright”
In the United States the fee is only $35 and you can register a whole bunch of articles or photos in one shot. you have 90 days from the moment of publishing to register your work in order to not only get Statutory Damages, but also to recover your lawyer (and court) fees. An attorney is not at all necessary, to register your manuscript or photo. You can register on-line (which is cheaper) or by snail mail. Copyright registrations become effective the day on which application and payment are received at the office
Where to find a copyright lawyer
Even if you could send a “Copyright Infringement Cease & Desist/Demand Letter” yourself to the thieve of your content, why should you do it? Why waste your time? Get a copyright lawyer who does it for you and who follows up on the case or brings it to the courts. One law firm that is specialized in copyright law is Hoffman in NYC, but you will find them in almost every state. There are websites, such as Findlaw.com that sort them by cities too. Some lawyers will even work for you on a contingency agreement for a percentage of any settlement; as long as you have registered your writing or your image correctly.
How much can you charge:
“What’s An Infringement Worth?”
Attorney Carolyn E. Wright who is specialist in copyright law has a an interesting graphic on her website that shows the average amount of damages the perpetrator has to pay:
- Actual Damages*
- Statutory Damages
- Ordinary Licence Fee
- Attorneys fees & costs
* US copyright laws allows punishment for removal or alteration of copyright information a substantial statutory damage – $2,500 – $25,000 – for each image or text.
Find out about Consequences of Copyright Infringement. Please see also a former blog post here about honest re-blogging that explains the difference between copy & paste (theft) and official re-blogging, where a link points to the original blog post.
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