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     Internet Website Theft - Getting The Stolen Site Off the Net


   Dealing with Website Thieves in the Internet
                                          by Dr. j l Scott

       Sometimes I wonder if it's possible for ANY organization to even make a dent in cleaning up the Internet. So many scams - so many "business owners" who have no intention of treating their customers with anything other than contempt - so much BS ... And so much theft!

     In the past month or so I have personally known
three online business owners who have had their web sites stolen! Their ENTIRE web sites - good GRIEF!

     The first question is - WHY? Any 10 year old can build a simple web site with an hour of training. It may not have forms, fancy graphics or cgi scripts but it can be functional - and it can work. If the learning curve is just too steep, how many sites do you think there are where you can find free templates? Lots!

    There is no necessity for stealing someone else's web site! Neither design, nor content. Of course, if you're using the same 'ol hype on your site that everyone else is using - it's sometimes a bit difficult to tell who stole what from whom. Let that be lesson number 1!

                Unfortunately, the theft itself is only the
                        beginning of the problem.

    One victim was advised by several people to, "
just leave it alone, let it go."

   In a pig's EAR! For one thing - why do we bother to copyright our work if it isn't going to mean anything? For another - she could soon find her own products stolen right along with the site design.

If your site is stolen - you need to
                      get that stolen site OFF the Web!

    In one of the instances mentioned above,
the product WAS actually stolen - right along with the entire web site - and was being sold by the thief. He even used the same credit card provider as the real owner!

    In addition to all this, the thief then proceeded to market the product using "spam." Is this something you should just "leave alone?" I don't think so!

    Yet, even with all this -
the thief's web host REFUSED to ban the stolen site. Even with undeniable evidence that the owner had both his domain name and his site up first! Even though the thief had been reported for "spam" by an outside source!

What to do next?

    Start moving toward the Internet backbone. Even dedicated servers have to get their connections someplace. Go to and find out the next step toward that backbone. Then report everyone under that connection who is refusing to do business in an ethical manner.

            Each Internet Service Provider is accountable
                            to the provider above them.

    Don't think a web host has carte blanche to do as they please! Moving toward the backbone is exactly what it took to get this web host back in line. The stolen site came down.

    At least it came down from THAT web host. The thief could have just put it back up with another hosting company. Not that it wouldn't be easy to find with the domain name in place. So, the job wasn't finished.

The merchant account provider also had to be put on notice. Think THAT was easy? Of course, at first the victim was just blown off. Again - it took moving up through a hierarchy to get the job done.

    Once the right person was informed that the merchant account provider could be held liable for assisting the sale of a stolen product - they paid attention! The thief's account was canceled.

    Now granted, all this took a lot of work - a lot of energy - and a lot of stamina on the part of the victim. This victim is a Charter Member of iCop. When he became aware of what had happened - he wasn't sure how to proceed.

    So - he asked for advice. More importantly, he followed the advice. And most important of all - he hung in there until the job was done!

   Let it go? Well, I suppose you could. But how much are your web site - your products - and your reputation worth to you?

See Sidebar for September 2004 update by the author

 jl scott, ph.d., Author Copyright © 2000, All Rights Reserved
A copy of this article is available at:
This article may be reprinted with permission by including the following resource box:
dr. jl scott is the Founder of the International Council of Online Professionals (iCop™) - and also the publisher of the Internet Marketing Trade Journal™ - the ezine that keeps you up to date on Internet marketing coming of age.
         To subscribe:

----------------------------------------------------------- Article presented with permission of the i-Cop organization
 Disclaimer: Neither the Author nor the publisher represent themselves to be engaged in providing legal advice or professional services. When, or if legal advice is required, it should be solicited from a licensed professional.


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Author's Comments

jl Scott advises that things have changed considerably...

"Now we have the Millennium
Digital Copyright Act, and to file
complaints with web hosts, we
have  to use Section 512(c) of
that Act. 

Each host is *supposed* to
have a designated agent for
Notification of Claims of
Infringement.  The agents can
be found here:

Nearly all of them are
attorneys. If a host doesn't have
a registered agent, then we
start up the backbone until we
find the first one that does.

The verbiage of the claim is
supposed to include specific
information, which I believe
can be found in the Act. and 
I  believe most if the
information is here"

..jl Scott, September, 2004

Editor's Comments

It certainly seems to make
good sense for you to Consider protecting your
work by inclusion of a

   "Notice of Copyright"

Publication of works created
after March 1, 1989 no longer
requires a copyright notice to
be attached in order to be
protected under US copyright

Even so, to bring a lawsuit
upon someone who is
illegally using your material,
it must first be registered
with the United States
Copyright Office

Library of Congress,
Copyright Office,
 Washington, DC 20559-6000
     Phone: 202-707-3000
     Fax: 202-707-2600

(This comprehensive website
contains an expansive array
of facts, explanations, and
guides for protecting your
intellectual property)

Most authorities recommend
that  a copyright notice along
with terms of use are posted
on your Web site to remind
others and to give yourself
additional protection in case
of a copyright dispute.

Here's an example:

© 2004, Your Business Name.
The material on this
site is protected by US
Copyright Laws and cannot
be used with out the express
written consent of the
.                 .          
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