what to do if someone copies your websiteI have to say, that one of my biggest pet peeves in internet marketing is when someone decides to copy my website. This has happened to me more than twenty times over the last 7 years for this website and is very annoying.

The more popular your website is, the more likely people are to copy it.

Sometimes it is completely innocent and is just a newbie who is trying to be successful and doesn’t realise that it is wrong. At other times it can be done by someone who should really know better. This post is part rant, but hopefully will be helpful too, as I’ve also listed some information about how to deal with this problem if it happens to you.

Here is why you should never copy any part of someone’s website without their permission:

a) It is stealing!

b) If you want to be successful you need to create your own unique content. A lot of duplicate content is filtered by the search engines so you will probably find that you won’t rank for any keywords in the search engines if you just copy content from elsewhere.

If you can’t or don’t have time to create your own content, then hire a ghostwriter to do it for you.

Here is a little guide on what to do if someone copies your website. This year so far I’ve managed to get 4 peoples’ websites shut down as a result of plagarism. One person had actually copied my entire site and replaced all my product and affiliate links with his own links.

Step 1 – Contact the Website Owner – The first thing you need to do is contact the owner of the website. Most websites should have a contact page with an email address or a form on it, but if they don’t you can go to Whois.sc and enter the domain name. This will tell you the contact email address along with other useful information such as where the site is hosted (which you may well need if the person doesn’t respond to you).

Send them a polite email informing them that they are infringing your content and ask them to remove the infringing content from their website. Ask them to remove it as soon as possible and reply back when they have done this. You may then want to wait a week and send a second email if you don’t hear back from them. Sometimes people will remove the content and get back to you, but most often they will ignore you and either remove the content or keep it there. If this happens you need to proceed to step 2 below.

Step 2 -  Contact the Website Host – if the website in question does not remove the plagiarised content, the next step is to contact their host. You can easily find their host by checking the Whois site mentioned above. Most website hosts have a ticket system and you can use this to submit a ticket to let them know that someone using their hosting service is infringing copyright. Let them know your contact information, the name of your site, the name of the infringing site and tell them that you have made efforts to contact the website owner.

I have found that most website hosts that I have contacted for this reason have been very responsive. A good hosting company does not want to risk legal action being taken as a result of copyright infringement. In some cases you will have to submit something called a DMCA notice, which stands for Digital Millenium Copyright Act notice. If you need help generating one of these there is a handy DMCA notice generator here. In many cases a hosting company will accept a digital signature (i.e. you typing your name as a signature to the form and emailing it to them), but in other cases you may need to fax the notice with a real signature or send it via postal mail.

Hopefully you will have success with either step 1 or step 2 above and the content will be removed quite quickly. If this doesn’t happen the only other choices you have are to take legal action, or to modify some of your own content so that it is different from the infringing website’s content. Sadly, sometimes the latter is the best option because legal action is both expensive and time consuming.

If you want to check whether or not your website has been copied, the easiest way to do this is to go to Copyscape and enter the URL of your site. You can do this check once a month or so to keep on top of people who are trying to copy your site.

What do you think? Has someone ever copied your website before? How did you deal with it? Did you have a successful outcome?

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Filed under: Building a Website

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