Busting Online Copyright Thieves
How safe is anyone’s copyright online?
Well imagine my surprise when I clicked on a website link to discover that someone had not only copied my website to their server – but was selling my ebook and undercutting me in the process! Some dishonest person operating from Eastern Europe had literally stolen my entire business and I discovered it only by sheer luck.
After some very lengthy and threatening emails I got them shut down, but the question remains, how safe is your copyright online and what can you do to protect it?
Traditionally written works have enjoyed copyright protection not only through the rule of law, but also because of the physical difficulty in stealing another person’s work. Let’s face it, photocopying a 200 page book rates about as much fun as watching paint dry and at 5 cents a page you’re talking a quick ten dollar printing bill.
If you steal someone’s book, print up a thousand copies and try to get it onto the local bookstore’s shelves, the chances of getting caught rank pretty high.
But the online world has changed those rules and physical safeguards significantly. The Internet, email and the Web make it easier than ever to steal someone else’s work. With the most basic skills and a few mouse clicks, someone can take your book, your website, and along with it weeks, months, and even years of your hard work.
Though intellectual property and international copyright laws apply to online works, enforcement of those laws is expensive and, in many cases, hard to enforce.
Well don’t despair, you do have options if you find someone has violated your copyright online. Anytime I find someone violating my copyright, which isn’t very often, I take these three steps in rapid-fire fashion.
First, make 100% sure the other person realizes they have violated your copyright. You can send them a nice but firm note telling them to stop whatever activity violates your copyright. If that doesn’t work move on to step two.
Second, once you know with 100% certainty they understand they have violated your copyright, yet refuse to respond or stop, you need to shut them down by eliminating their ability to do business!
Send them an email with a carbon copy sent to their Internet Service Provider (ISP), their credit card processor, their web hosting company, and even the company that sold them their domain name.
Finally, follow this email up with a hard copy letter to each party sent via registered mail. In the email and letter detail exactly how they have blatantly violated your copyright and you want them to desist immediately.
By taking this approach you can often just bypass the offending party because the companies enabling them to transact business don’t want any trouble. If you can show copyright violation they will shut the perpetrator down to avoid getting sued themselves.
Though not foolproof, this strategy can help you when facing down a blatant online copyright violator. Just remember to act quickly, thoroughly and don’t hesitate to contact your attorney for advice.
Author’s Note: By no means let this article dampen your enthusiasm for operating your business or selling your ebook online! In my opinion there is no better way to make a living! Your copyright is basically as safe online as it is offline. However, if a sneak thief entered your home – you’d call the cops. Well, now you know what to do if a sneak thief ever gives you trouble online!
You can also get more information about copyright law by going to http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/
Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist & creator
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