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Dealing with Copyright Infringement

     Copyright infringement is a big problem on the internet. What's worse, the content of your website is the easiest thing to steal. Just search with part of your content as keywords and you'll find out that a lot of your content has been copied without your permission.

Getting Copyright

The following must not be considered as a legal advice. If you need a legal counsel, please check with your lawyer.

     As you know, copyright protects your work. In most countries, copyright is automatically in effect at creation. So you don't have to register your work. However, registering your work with a government agency is the best way to prove you're the copyright owner in a court of law. Practically, it's worth paying for registration when you've written a book, but it's not worthwhile for a small work, such as a newsletter. In that case, you should opt to use "poor man's copyright," which means you mail a copy of your work to yourself via the postal system and keep the delivered mail unopened. This is a strong argument for establishing that the contents of the unopened mail were created before the date of the postmark on the envelope. (Still, you shouldn't treat this as a replacement of registering work with the copyright office.)

Taking Advantage of Infringement

     The grim fact is, whether you have a copyright or not, people will plagiarize your work whenever they want to. Otherwise, the use of file sharing software wouldn't have become a problem. I'm not suggesting that you let people get away with it, but that finding a way to turn infringement into promotion of your site is more important than protecting your products. For example, you can use all sorts of copy protection techniques, but if it causes too many problems in using your products, you'll lose paying customers. On the other hand, if you let people copy some of your work, your site will get more popular as more copies are made. (This is called viral marketing.)

© April, 2009