Protect the content on the site from copyright infringement

Antwort Law Practical Experiment (Part 1)

We should immediately note that we will NOT talk in this publication about what copyrights are, how the content on the website relates to them, what value it represents and what theoretical methods of copyright protection exist for content – enough has already been written about this.

BUT if you are faced with unauthorized copying of your materials on the Internet and want to find out which of the many ways to protect copyrights will really work in practice, then this article is for you!

Our company, like many others, faced the problem of unauthorized copying of content on the Internet. In our case, the "violator" was a foreign person, and for us, as a team of professional international lawyers, this gave an excellent opportunity to conduct an experiment and share with you useful experience in protecting content on an international scale. The essence of this experiment is to check which of several possible ways to protect copyright on content will be the fastest and most effective.

About what preparatory work should be done before starting actions to protect copyright on content, what methods of protection we have chosen and what results are expected – further in the series of articles devoted to our experiment!



What preparatory actions should be taken to effectively protect the content?

As with any important legal issue, in order to protect the content of your website from illegal copying and restore justice, you need to conduct some preliminary preparation. And so, in the first article devoted to our experiment, we will talk about what and why we did before applying the methods of protecting our copyrights to content directly:


1) We fix the fact of violation.

To ensure that your subsequent efforts are not wasted, and the culprit has suffered a well-deserved punishment, it is necessary to fix the fact of the violation in a reliable legal way. Thanks to this, in the future, when the violator realizes the seriousness of your intentions and decides to avoid punishment by simply removing your content from his site, you will have a reliable lever of pressure.

In our case, we recorded the actual state of affairs with the help of a protocol certified by a bailiff in Lithuania. This method is an alternative to notarized screenshots in the CIS countries, but allows you to record a little more information. For example, technical data with the time of appearance of the relevant content on the violator's website. Such a bailiff's report is registered with the Ministry of Justice of Lithuania and is an official certificate in the event of an attempt by the violator to remove your content from his website, or close access to it.

Notarized screenshots can also be used instead of the Protocol we have chosen, because they will cost a little cheaper. In our case, there was no goal to save money, because in the future we plan to recover all the expenses incurred by us to restore justice from the guilty person.


2) Make sure that your site has the necessary policies on the use of copyright (Copyright notes)

Of course, from the point of view of theory, there is no need to separately indicate whether you have copyrights on the site – they arise automatically. But the presence on the site of a corresponding notification about your authorship opens up additional opportunities for you. For example, in this notification, you can specify exactly who owns the copyright – the company or its employee. You can also specify the rules for quoting, copying and other use of your materials in this notification.

Since in our case all these points were initially posted on the site in the form of appropriate policies and a separate Copyright Notice (Copyright notes), we did not have to spend additional time and effort on this step. Nevertheless, anyone who is not sure about the quality of their policies, or has not yet posted a Notice of authorship on the site, should immediately do this – independently or with the help of qualified lawyers.

It is important to note once again – the absence of such a notification does not deprive you of the right to protect your copyrights, but it can make this process much easier.


3) We receive confirmation that the content on the violator's website is yours.

This point, despite its apparent simplicity, can become the "Achilles heel" of the entire process of protecting your copyrights. The fact is that quite often on the Internet they do not copy the content in its original form, but make certain changes to it. For example, if we are talking about text publications (as in our particular case), then some changes were made to the text during unauthorized copying – the so-called "rewrite" was made.

By itself, a rewrite, if it is done qualitatively and properly, is not a bad phenomenon. The vast majority of Internet entrepreneurs use it, and even hire individual copywriters for this work. If the original text is modified deeply enough and its essence is stated in other words, then this will lead to the creation of a separate author's work, different from yours. In this case, you will not be able to do anything with the author of the new work, because your copyright will not be violated.

But not every "rewrite" is such! As a rule, when conducting a rewrite, its result will be checked by automatic algorithms, of which there are a great many on the Internet. And there is a nuance here – most Internet services that provide free text verification services for plagiarism do not actually check texts for plagiarism in the full sense of the word. They only give an answer whether the search engines will treat the text being checked as plagiarism or not. Accordingly, the result of such checks cannot be relied on 100%.

So how do you make sure there was a "rewrite"? If, when looking at the materials from the violator's site, you clearly see similarities (similar wording, structure, content, etc.), but automatic services show a small percentage of coincidence, order a linguistic examination. This is the only reliable way to make sure that the modified materials still bear sufficient similarity to the original. In addition, in the future, you will be able to use the results of such an examination in the direct application of methods for protecting your copyrights.

The choice of an expert to conduct an examination for plagiarism is an individual matter. We recommend paying attention to such factors as whether the expert has the appropriate qualifications, reputation and knowledge of the language you need. Since in our particular case the texts were written in Russian, we ordered an examination in one of the specialized centers in Russia, and the corresponding examination confirmed that the rewrite was carried out poorly, and we are dealing with plagiarism.


4) Prove that the violator has intent when illegally copying content.

This task is both creative and technical. How can I prove that the violator had the opportunity and intent to illegally copy, and did not create a very similar work guided by "inspiration"?

In our case, this issue was solved quite simply, but this does not always happen. Publications from our site were duplicated in social networks, which make it possible to track those who visited our page and read the relevant content, as well as the time of the visit. It is not surprising that among the visitors there were several persons at once, in whose profile the employer indicated a company directly related to the offending site. Moreover, the illegal copying of content was not a one–time, but systematic - copies of our materials appeared regularly on the offending site, with a difference of several days. So in our case, everything turned out to be very simple – the presence of the violator's ability and intent is obvious.

If you are not as lucky as we are, don't worry! There are other ways that will allow you to confirm the connection of the violator with your materials. For example, many companies use built-in software modules on websites that collect certain (including personal) information, such as the IP addresses of visitors and the history of their clicks on the site. Such data can perfectly solve this issue, but only if you have indicated on your website in the Privacy Policy information about the collection of relevant information and the possibility of using it to protect your legitimate interests. If you do not have a Privacy Policy, or for some reason you "forgot" to specify the collection of the necessary information in it, it is better not to use it at all - you may be fined for violating the rules for processing personal information, and such a fine can repeatedly block the possible benefit from punishing the violator for illegally copying your content.


5) Determine the specific person (or several persons) to whom your claim will be addressed.

Some methods of protecting your copyrights do not require specifying the specific person who violated it – it is enough to provide the infringer's website to the competent authorities. But even such methods of protection will work better if you specify specific persons who have violated your copyrights.

Violators of your rights can be either individual individuals and legal entities (companies), or a group of several persons – it all depends on your specific case. For example, in our case, the check showed that one Ukrainian company is listed in the policies on the violator's website, the domain name of the site is an individual (the founder of the same company).

A high–quality preliminary preparation is the key to success in further protecting your copyrights to content. In the most relevant articles devoted to this experiment, we will talk in more detail about how to correctly formulate requirements when making a complaint about copyright infringement, calculate the amount of possible compensation and choose a way to protect the rights to your content.

Follow the latest publications of Antwort Law specialists to find out how to most effectively protect the site from illegal copying of your content.

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