What to do when your website is copied?


Website copying is far too common, but can usually be stopped if the right procedures are carried out. A website visual design and the website code will belong to someone – and usually the copyright remains with the creator, the website design agency or designer.

But what do you do if you website designs have been illegally copied?

Cornish WebServices have had their own website plus client websites copied on several occasions and have almost always successfully got the illegally copied website removed. This is particularly easy if the copying is very obvious such as the website below. The attempt by a website design company to copy the Cornish WebServices website an rebrand as a cleaning company is almost funny in that such a poor job was done with some page copy being a mixture of Internet Marketing and cleaning services.

The original website

Cornish website

The illegally copied website, clearly breaching design copyright

copied Cornish website - Website copyright issues

How to get illegal website copies removed

The first step is to contact the website owners. A well written and legal website will have this on the website. Needless to say many copied websites will have been done by cowboys who do not include these details. However a sales phone number or email address will usually be sufficient to make the owners aware that your copyright has been infringed and they have 3 days to remove this before action is sought to remove the website.  Any phone calls need backing up with and email, in case this is needed later.

In many cases the above is sufficient – and the website gets taken down temporarily and the design changed (probably another website is copied...)

If there is no change within the a few days you need to find out where the website is hosted. If this is with a hosting company then you can contact them to request the website is removed. This will nearly always work, especially as they are breaking the law in knowingly making available on the Internet material which has been illegally copied. You will need to provide screenshots showing the obvious copyright violations. A copy of a letter requesting action by the website owners will get this phase acted on more quickly. The hosting company will usually give the website owner a few more days to rectify the situation before shutting down the website.

In the above example of website stealing, Cornish WebServices approached 1&1 legal department (the website was hosted by 1&1)  with the required evidence and within 4 days t he website had been removed.

Why is it important to protect your website copyright?

There are two reasons;

Firstly fairness. If you have created a design or code why should someone else benefit from your work, and falsely claim the credit.

Secondly, and far more important is the potential harm to your own website through duplicate content. It is possible that Google will recognise the wrong website as the original and your website natural listings could suffer as a result.

Cornish WebServices provide search engine optimisation services for many businesses and as part of this we closely monitor illegal website copying. It is in fact all too frequent, but the offending websites can usually be removed.

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