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
webhosting 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
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/
About the author:
Jim Edwards, a.k.a. TheNetReporter.com, is a syndicated
newspaper columnist, nationally recognized speaker, author,
and web developer. Owner of nine (9) successful e-businesses
as well as a professional consulting firm, Jim’s writing
comes straight off the front lines of the Internet and e-commerce.
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