If your website's text or graphics were copied by another website, then it is possible that you have experienced copyright infringement.
What Should I Do If Someone Copied My Website?
There are several steps that you should take if you have discovered a copy of your website on the internet. You should determine whether you simply want the infringer to stop infringing or if you want to be paid damages for using your copyrighted materials, or both.
Determine What Material You Have Copyrighted.
You should first ensure that you have certificates of copyright registration for the material that has been copied on another site. If you have not actually copyrighted the copied material, you may have a more difficult time proving copyright infringement. If you have not copyrighted your website, you should do so immediately and save all the documents that you submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office to be copyrighted.
Collect Evidence That Your Copyright Has Been Infringed Upon
You should start collecting evidence of copyright infringement of your site by making copies of the infringing website. You can do this by taking screen shots (pictures of the site as it appears on your screen) of the site, including the source code (the HTML code used to create the website) for each page. One way to show that you wrote the original material is to add lines to your source code, such as repeating lines.
Send A Cease and Desist Letter
The next step is to send the infringer a notice to cease and desist the infringing behavior. It is important that you write this letter carefully and do not state that you will take action that you are not prepared to take. Your letter should state
- What materials you have copyrighted
- What materials the infringer has used/displayed without your permission.
- You will notify the ISP that the infringer has copied your site and has violated your copyrights
- A deadline for the infringer to stop infringing
- You intend to file a lawsuit if you are not satisfied by the deadline
This is not an exhaustive list. The cease and desist letter should be sent after you have secured evidence that the infringer has copied your site. You do not want the infringer to make small changes to the content of the site to distinguish it from your site. This may make it very difficult to prove copyright infringement and the changes may not satisfy you.
Contact the Host ISP
If you show the ISP (Internet Service Provider) that a website it hosts has infringed on your copyrights, it is likely to stop hosting the entire site or remove the infringing material to ensure that it does not get involved in contributory liability.
Do I Need A Copyright Lawyer If My Site Has Been Copied?
A copyright attorney will quickly be able to determine what actions you should take to ensure that copyright infringement stops, whether it be filing a lawsuit or sending a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter may be more effective if it goes to the ISP and the infringer from your lawyer. If you suspect that a website has copied your content, you should gather information about your copyrighted material and contact an attorney quickly to ensure speedy resolution of this problem.