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Today we live in a vastly competitive online society, and the ability to generate site traffic can be the sole dictating factor in whether a business succeeds or fails.

Therefore, the ability to produce quality content that stands out is vital to achieve this. Unfortunately, this leads many to look for shortcuts, exploiting the work of talented companies/individuals for their own immediate gain.

Online copyright infringement is becoming increasingly common, largely due to the ease in which it can be done. With just a few clicks, anybody can plagiarise full bodies of text, images, video and even chunks of code and use it for their own reputational, professional and/or even financial gain.

All original content published on line is protected under copyright law, whether or not it contains a copyright symbol, copyright notice or water mark. There is no need to register it, the intellectual property belongs to you and it cannot be legally reproduced.

When you produce good content online and market it well, whether it be a blog/article, images, infographic, video or a particularly innovative website design, it will naturally gain attention.   As a result it can be widely shared by other websites as well as other people via social media. This is a good thing, as it exposes your work to a wider audience, improve the SEO ranking of the content and drive traffic to your website. As long as the person sharing the content asks permission, acknowledges you as the author and links back to you as the source of the content, no copyright infringement has taken place.

However, if someone posts your content to their site without your permission they are in breach of copyright law.  You can then take action against them.

How to take action against online copyright infringement.

First of all, be sure to gather as much proof as possible that you are the original author, take screenshots of your work and locate any previous drafts and have them to hand.

Not all reposting of your content is done with malicious intent. Often the offender has enjoyed your work and simply wants to share it but isn’t aware that they are breaking the law.  That said, this does not excuse their actions.

Most websites will have contact information. Start by sending an email or a letter to the offender to make them aware of their actions and request they remove your content from their site.

If this proves ineffective, contact their hosting provider and make them aware of the infringement. You can find out who their web host is by visiting whoishostingthis and typing in the website URL.

Most web hosting services will investigate the issue and instruct the website owner to remove the content. Web hosts are typically proactive when it comes to removing plagiarised content and in some cases have been known to shut down the offenders’ entire site if they do not respond to the request.

Even if the copyrighting material is removed an infringement of copyright is actionable by the copyright owner.

 

In an action for infringement of copyright you may be able to claim damages or what is known as an account of profits from the offending party as a result of the losses you have suffered or the gains that they have made in relation to their copyright infringement.

Further, if the offending material is not taken down then you may be able to obtain an injunction to force the other party to remove it from their site.

If you have been the victim of online copyright infringement and wish to take legal action, contact Guy Lightowler on 0161 930 5175 or email guy.lightowler@gorvins.com

More articles on Intellectual Property: The Fundamentals of Intellectual Property

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