You work hard to create original, engaging content that will keep readers coming to your blog and keep your website high in the search engine results pages. Thus, finding out that your content has been pilfered and is being used somewhere else is frustrating.
It’s also illegal. When someone appropriates your intellectual property, you have to take action to protect your interests and the integrity of your brand.
How to handle online infringement of your intellectual property rights
The very first step you should take is to capture screenshots of the infringement. Otherwise, the very moment that you approach the offending party about their actions, your proof may vanish and they may deny it was ever there. While that doesn’t erase their liability, it can make it harder to prove.
Your next steps should include:
- Obtain contact information for the website’s owner, which should be available online fairly easily.
- Send a cease-and-desist notice and let them know, in writing, that they’ve violated your copyright or trademark and that the content needs to be taken down right away.
- Contact the website’s administrators (if different from the owner) and copy them on the cease-and-desist letter and let them know, in writing, that it’s infringement.
- If the content isn’t immediately removed, locate the website’s hosting service and notify them about the infringing content.
Sometimes, especially with photos, artwork and graphics, people don’t realize they’re infringing on someone’s intellectual property rights because they assumed that “since they found it on the internet” it was fair game. If you suffered no harm and they respond appropriately, you may end your interactions there.
If you were financially harmed because of the infringement or the other party refuses to remove the content, you may need to get an attorney involved.