Stealing the Web
February 7, 2007 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Stealing-the-Web filter. How can you check?

Following on from the question on copyright ( I am well aware that if you put stuff on the web, it can be stolen and anything you do (preventing right-click with javascript, converting text to jpg, etc) can either be circumvented or will annoy users. However, I have recently come across a couple of websites, where there is substantial similarity between the two. There is no acknowledgment of the duplication/borrowing, they have very different URLs and a whois reveals very different ISPs. I am not talking about people lifting from Wikipedia or other major sites but two relatively minor sites. So, assuming Site B lifted from Site A, questions.

1. How does Site A prove that he is the original? Dates won't do, as there might have been a change of ISP or Site B might have somehow altered the date.
2. What does Site A do to stop the theft? In the US a C&D letter under the DMCA to the webmaster of Site B might work but what if Site B is not in the US and, indeed, is in a country where English is not the major language?
3. How do you check to see whether someone is stealing your stuff? If you have a small site, you might be able to Google regularly but if you have 1000+ pages, this is not going to be practicable.

Anyone experience of dealing with these issues?
posted by TheRaven to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
IANAL... If I really wanted to protect something like this, I'd have all the code printed out and notarized. That would at least prove I created it when I said I did.
posted by phrontist at 2:12 PM on February 7, 2007

Waybackmachine can establish a date.
posted by smackfu at 2:14 PM on February 7, 2007

Regarding 1) Presumably you don't store full-size images on the web but smaller, desampled ones. Thus, you can prove its your image because you can produce larger, clear images to any 3rd party. Site B cannot.
posted by vacapinta at 2:23 PM on February 7, 2007

Phrontist is getting at something like the "poor man's copyright," which as this page explains, does not exist in the U.S. The link is to an faq from the U.S. Copyright Office. It may be helpful in understanding copyright general.
posted by Xalf at 2:57 PM on February 7, 2007

How similar are they? Did site creator B just copy the source from Site A and use it to create Site B? Are there images that are the same? Is it just the design for the page?

Are they just vaguely similar?

The most effective thing Site Creator A could do is publicly embarrass Site B. Barring that, I doubt you'd want to go much farther than a Cease-and-Desist unless you want to pour a lot of money down the drain, or if Site Creator B is remarkably wealthy.
posted by bshort at 3:19 PM on February 7, 2007

Here are some plausible reasons why this might not be a problem:

1. Both sites are built from the same template. The template is either open-sourced and publicly available, part of a site software's design library, or were generated by a shop that offers predesigned sites.

2. Both sites purchased the same stock art.

I'm not arguing that theft didn't take place, but I don't know exactly what's wrong here. Can you be clearer about what's similar between the two sites? Or, heck, just link to 'em.
posted by ardgedee at 3:29 PM on February 7, 2007

I'll just point out here that enforcement of DMCA takedown notices tends towards the "shoot first, ask questions later" approach, so it would be entirely possible for the plagiarist to send a takedown notice to the original creator's host, and for that host to honor it without any investigation.

If you're trying to assert ownership on artwork, you can obviously insert bugs or watermarks. For that matter, you could probably embed IPTC metadata in the files, which only the most meticulous ripoff artist would think to edit. The equivalent would be difficult with text. The only thing I can think of would be embedding a steganographic message, so (for example) the first letter of each word on a page spelled out "this website created by theraven."

Pirated Sites is a website where people try to publicly shame ripoff site designs, but isn't oriented towards content ripoffs (I don't think).
posted by adamrice at 3:52 PM on February 7, 2007

maybe you can send a screenshot of your work to an email somewhere, especially webmails where you don't have the possibility to alter date and you can from timt to time try a google search for exact words from your work
posted by zouhair at 5:01 PM on February 8, 2007

« Older FileMaker me?   |   Adware everywhere Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.