How to protect your intellectual property...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Okay so this may be totally random.
But I have been taking a few courses to help further my career goals and I thought that a few of you might find this interesting and/or useful. 

I recently wrote a paper where I investigated what I could / should do when my blog content is stolen.  Below you will find my complete paper and findings. 

***********************************
Introduction

As a result of having my intellectual property stolen from my blog, I have conducted an investigation into what legal recourse I may use and further researched copyright law. I have also created a detailed copyright notice for my website that helps to protect my content. My report presents the history of my blog content, details the problem of content theft, presents my new copyright notice, and concludes with a guideline for legal action if required.

Background

I operate a blog called Twin Dragonfly Designs. I am the sole writer of content for this website and a large percentage of the photography is also my own. I write articles on a daily basis that are intended to inspire others to be creative. My blog has continued to grow over the last four years through readers, subscribers and social networking. Through this growth my website has started to generate revenue through advertisers and sponsors.

 

I have always know that theft of my intellectual property may be an issue as a blogger. In the past I have relied on notifications from my readers and Google searches of my content to make sure that my writing was not being stolen. Recently I have found a number of articles and entire blog posts that have been copied from my site and placed on other websites. Often this information is cited as the webmasters own property with no credit given to myself or my blog.

Twin Dragonfly Designs operates without a copyright notice or statement of ownership.

Intellectual property theft is a problem because not only is my hard work and writing being stolen but when it is placed on another website it is a detriment to the growth of my blog. When search engines such as Google see that content is repeated numerous times on various sites they tend to drop those sites from their search engine. This is important to note because search engines like Google drive a lot of traffic to my blog and therefor increase my revenues.

Problem

Recently I conducted a Google search for a very popular post of mine called, Angry Birds – Family Costume Tutorial. I discovered the entire contents of this article, including photographs, posted on another persons website. There was no mention of my blog, Twin Dragonfly Designs or myself as the writer. I immediately contacted the webmaster using the comment section under the stolen article as I could not find another way to contact the person. I politely but firmly asked them to remove the content and was contacted the next day by email with an apology and quick removal of my material from the offending website.
The problem is that I don't have a clear copyright statement on my blog and had the situation not been resolved quickly I do not know what my next steps could have been.

Findings

First I began to investigate copyright legislation and where I stand legally in terms of my intellectual property. I found that all content, whether it be written or photographed, in a book or on a blog, is the exclusive property of the author and creator of the content. It was important for me to understand that even though I had no copyright notice, my writing was still legally my own. I also found that the owner of a copyright, whether printed or not, may allow others to use their work only with their express permission. Bloggers like myself often allow other bloggers to promote their work with a photo on their website with a link to the article. This was important for me to understand in order to go to the next step of my investigation.
Next I researched the recommended steps of action that should be taken when online content is stolen. I found that there are a number of ways to address intellectual property theft. I plan on using the following steps when my content is found to be stolen:

 

1. Send a professional cease and desist email to the website owner.

 
2. Send a professional letter through regular mail.

 
3. Contact the website host regarding the stolen content.

 
4. Contact a lawyer to review other strategies.

Each step would only be taken if the first one did not get results. I feel fortunate that my recent situation was resolved at step one. Another step that was suggested by Janice Byer was to slander the perpetrator and tell others about the stolen content. While I have talked to close friends about the issue I feel that slandering the individual would be dropping to their level and not something that I would utilize.

Finally I found ways in which I can protect my website from content theft. While investigating this topic I discovered that I can enable a tool called no right click coding into my blog. This prevents readers from using their computer mouse to right click on my content and save or copy it. While this is a great way to prevent content theft it doesn't allow for content sharing. One of the main ways that my writing is shared is by other bloggers taking a photograph of mine and sharing a link to the article. This isn't possible with no right click coding enabled.

Another deterrent to intellectual property theft that I discovered is to have a clear and direct copyright notice placed on my blog. As a result of my investigation this is something that I have now created and implemented on my website. I can also include this in the script or building blocks of my blog so that offender isn't aware of it. I can later use this script as proof of my ownership of the content. I found that it is also important for me to backup my information and blog content so that I have a hard copy of my writing and proof that I am the author.

Conclusion

In conclusion I found that it is important to have a clear understanding of intellectual property theft when publishing a blog or any other form of writing. I now have steps outlined in the event that my blog content is stolen again. I have also developed a firm copyright notice that may act as a deterrent to offenders in the future.

Appendix

Example email
Hello Sir or Madam,

It has come to my attention that you have recently published an article called Angry Birds – Family Costume Tutorial. The article includes photographs and writing that has been taken directly from my website. You can find the original article, published September 23, 2011 here
This content has been published on your website without my express permission. I am sure that you are aware that a lot of time and effort has gone into this article. It needs to be removed from your site in a timely manner. I require your response in one weeks time before I move on to further action.
The content in question is protected from intellectual property theft under the C42 Copyright Act as detailed in the copyright notice on my blog.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Painchaud

 
Example letter
October 15, 2012
Sandy Soandso
1234 Sesame St
Kelowna BC V1X 5K6
Dear Mr Soandso:

 

I have sent this letter to follow up with an email notification from October 1, 2012.

 

It has come to my attention that you have recently published an article called Angry Birds – Family Costume Tutorial. The article includes photographs and writing that has been taken directly from my website. You can find the original article, published September 23, 2011 here
This content has been published on your website without my express permission. I am sure that you are aware that a lot of time and effort has gone into this article. It needs to be removed from your site in a timely manner. I require your response in one months time before I move on to further action.

 

The content in question is protected from intellectual property theft under the C42 Copyright Act as detailed in the copyright notice on my blog.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Painchaud
Twin Dragonfly Designs

Copyright notice
This website and its contents are copyright © Twin Dragonfly Designs 2012. All rights reserved.

Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the content in any form is prohibited under the C42 Copyright Act.
Printing or downloading content may be for personal and non-commercial use only.
Copying of one photograph with a link and acknowledgment of this website is allowed.
Content may not be copied and distributed without the express written permission of the author.

 
Resources
Department of Justice. (n.d.). Copyright Act Retrieved from Department of Justice Online http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-42/index.html
Janice Byer. (n.d.). Website Content Theft. What Exactly Is Copyright? Retrieved from Small Business Canada http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/legalmatters/a/websitetheftjb.htm
Sample IT Policies, Disclaimers and Notices. (n.d.). Sample internet notice copyright and guidelines Retrieved from Business Link http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/detail?itemId=1076142167&type=RESOURCES
xo Heather
Pinterestgoogle plus

5 comments:

  1. I cant remember the name of blog that has the exact same issue, some japanese or chinesse blog stole images even with her kids on them and a full article about making hats from sweaters... i want to send this info but cant remember the blog :(.. im sure this would be so helpful!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Heather, I applaud your professionalism, research abilities and patience (some of that stuff is just so boring!) as well as your willingness to share this information. This is all so important. Thank you very much for doing all the leg work! You are awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the information, Heather! Do you have any sources for how to do the right-click coding?

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is great information... Thanks for sharing with us, and I will keep this in mind...
    I am so sorry this happened to you.... :(

    hugs x
    Crystelle
    http://www.crystelleboutique.com

    ReplyDelete

Blog Widget by LinkWithin