I recently started a small gaming website and my friend made me a pretty decent gaming layout. My site is http://www.blizzboards.com .. I found a few people taking my layout and changing it a little bit and calling it there own. I'm not really sure how the whole copyright system goes because I never registered anything to be copyrighted. Please help me? What do I do..
If you haven't registered anything as copyrighted, you may have some trouble getting financial compensation from the people who have re-used your layout. You don't have to file any registration or notice with anyone or anything to have something copyrighted, though. The minute a work is in a fixed form, it's copyrighted.
Even so, though, you should be able to speak with their hosting providers, provide proof of the copyright infringement, and they may either take the sites down or notify the sites' owners of a copyright infringement charge, depending on their own policies.
Many web hosts will not help you argue your case; and if their client says that they didn't take your layout, you may not be able to get the alleged copyright theft sites taken down. Again, it depends on the hosts' individual policies.
☷ Lesli Schauf, TLM Network
☴ Linux and Windows Hosting: Scribehost
His claim of "since it isn't legally registered you can't take legal actions" isn't true - at least, not in America or most of the countries who are signatories to the Berne Copyright Convention. It *can* be true that if something isn't legally registered as copyrighted, it can be more difficult to prove copyright infringement - but not impossible. Whether something is registered or not may also affect any monetary compensation you are due for the copyright infringement. You'd need a legal professional to work with you and determine whether you could get any money back, though. If your design is noncommercial and the alleged infringer's use is also noncommercial, the best you may be able to hope for is to have his site layout changed to not include the elements from your layout - which is not inconsiderable.
You'll want to find a legal professional to help you with the proof / counteraccusations / so forth. Or at the very least, someone who's very very skilled in building arguments.
☷ Lesli Schauf, TLM Network
☴ Linux and Windows Hosting: Scribehost
I honestly can not pay for a legal professional at this point nor am I looking to go that far. I would like to be able to email the host and the user and hopefully be able to prove to them that they are breaking the copyright laws..
This has happened to me, so I have done a little research on the subject.
1. Every original work you do is copyrighted from the moment you put it to page (or in this case screen).
2. No notice of copyright is required for a work to be copyrighted.
3. You can sue them in civil court for actual damages plus court costs and the burden of proof lies on them.
4. A nicely worded, but firm letter outlining some of the source information below works wonders to get mouthy thieves to take down YOUR work. Contact me if you want a sample letter.
FROM THE USGENWEB.ORG WEBSITE
Since Jan. 1, 1978, everything an author writes is protected by copyright the minute it is written. Under the new law, no registration is necessary though notice is required. Registering a copyright costs $10.00 [this is actually out of date - since 1998 no notice of copyright is required but it does strengthen your argument should you blame someone later]
In general, if you republish something exactly the way it looked when first published, you have to worry about copyright laws unless the work is over 75 years old. [this applies to them]
Remedies - There are two provisions in the law for remedies of violation of the copyright of a person. 1. Actual damages include lost sales, the profit the infringing party may have made from the infringement, and legal fees. Or 2. Statutory Damages are fixed at $20,000 per infringement.
Burden of Proof in Infringement Actions - <snip> the burden of proving whether a particular copy was lawfully made or aquired should rest on the defendant. [or the accused has the proof of proving it was an original work. If your friend has all the original materials, like the .psd (Photoshop) files for graphics or a layered version of the background showing progression of the work, send it to an attorney]
FROM THE US COPYRIGHT OFFICE WEBSITE:
If you believe that your copyright has been infringed, consult an attorney. In cases of willful infringement for profit, the U.S. Attorney may initiate a criminal investigation. [Contact your local district attorney's office and ask them about pro-bono copyright infringement cases]
FROM THE ARTICLE "10 MYTHS ABOUT COPYRIGHT EXPLAINED"
Copyright law is mostly civil law. If you violate copyright you would usually get sued, not be charged with a crime. "Innocent until proven guilty" is a principle of criminal law, as is "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." Sorry, but in copyright suits, these don't apply the same way or at all. It's mostly which side and set of evidence the judge or jury accepts or believes more, though the rules vary based on the type of infringement. In civil cases you can even be made to testify against your own interests.
I'm not sure, but you could contact their host... If you can somehow prove that your website was the first to have that design (internet wayback machine might help) their host might close their website / force them to change the layout. Good luck!
If you have a copyright infringement complaint, you usually don't need to "prove" it to the web host. All you need to do is send a written notice/letter to the copyright officer at the host (sometimes the support or the legal department). The host will then notify their customer that they received the notice and either take the site down, or provide the site owner with a few days to take down the copyrighted materials (to the satisfaction of the complainer). This type of letter is usually enough leverage to get the content removed. (Because the infringer doesn't want their site down and they also don't want to pay legal fees!)
Originally posted by ProXie I recently started a small gaming website and my friend made me a pretty decent gaming layout. My site is http://www.blizzboards.com .. I found a few people taking my layout and changing it a little bit and calling it there own. I'm not really sure how the whole copyright system goes because I never registered anything to be copyrighted. Please help me? What do I do..
Is this friend of yours someone you met online? The reason why I ask is maybe your friend purchased your layout from another business like Template Monster, or your friend copied the design from another site, or he's selling the design he made for you to others, but maybe some people stole it like you said.
This happened to me once too. Someone took original graphics, text, and meta tags of a previous site of mine. After an email from me to them was not responded to, it was time to get more serious. I was lucky enough to have a friend who is a lawyer. He sent them a nice note and they eventually modified some stuff. I would also suggest you take some screen shots of their site so you have proof if you do decide to go the legal route.
However that may not be worth your time. Even though someone stole something from you, you may end up just having to let it go. Or even change your site so it looks even better
Some of the stuff you can tell was copied but overall it looked pretty different. I would just send them an email or something and ask if they copied it from you. If they confess then ask them to either change the layout or pay you like 20bucks for it if they wish to keep it.
Your layout is quite nice and easy to copy.
If you keep track of referrals in your daily statistics page, from time to time, web users do copy site layout and change layout a little bit to suit their site
There is nothing much you can do about it other than emailing the person and informing him or her to stop copying and starting respecting your creativity.
What i personally do is do a copy of the website with all sources and burn it onto a DVD/CD and post it to myself and leave it unclosed, this will do enough for the courts to prove that its our layout and was there at that time (due to the poststamp)