Legal Advice! Plagiarism problem...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Melrose, Jul 18, 2015.

  1. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Hey MR peeps - I have a question:

    I make a piece of software that I sell for people who do business online. I woke up this morning to find a competing product that has ripped off my sales copy - a full third is almost word for word and the entire outline of their content is lifted from me. Several large passages are verbatim taken from my sales page.

    I've contacted their hosting provider, and it's been escalated to their abuse department.

    I'm wondering, for you guys with some legal experience, what are my options here? I'm new this type of thing, and unfortunately don't have the big bucks to get a ton of lawyers.

    I also believe they're falsifying their earnings reports.

    What do?

    Thanks so much in advance! It's got me jittery with Rip-Off Adrenaline and some moderate anger.
  2. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    Here's some legal advice: don't let them find out you can't afford a lawyer.
  3. Melrose thread starter Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Yeah I figured that already... :(
  4. Scepticalscribe, Jul 18, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Firstly, I am not from the US, and so am not familiar with US law; certain protections re copyright & intellectual copyright operate differently in Europe to the US.

    There is a difference between 'not being able to afford a lawyer' and 'not being able to afford a ton of lawyers'.

    I think that an hour or two with a (competent, recommended, experienced) lawyer might prove to be money well worth spending, in the long run, if only to ensure that you know your legal rights and what options are open to you.

    However, as time is money, you do need in your own head to have worked out what questions you need to ask of a lawyer, and to have some prep work done in advance. This is a place where rage is best parked - if you are to pay for a lawyer, don't waste that time venting.

    Firstly, document, log and make a record of everything, including, obviously, each and every exchange with this company, and that includes phone calls: And I mean everything. A nice fat file.

    When I am phoning a utility, or a company, before I even lift the phone, I have a pen and paper to hand where I have made a note of the stuff I wish to raise, along with the relevant paperwork, letters, and bills, in front of me that I wish to discuss; when the phone is answered by a human, (an act that can take a long time), I proceed to note the time, date, and the name and position of the person with whom I speak, and the names of their managers or supervisors if it goes to that.

    Have you proof that you put this together, that you have copyright to it, and that this was done at the dates that you say you did? Have you registered a company? What sort of ™ do you have on your own materials?

    When did their material make an appearance? You may need to get someone to professionally calculate how much has been copied word for word from your material. Are there legal limits on how much can be legally lifted and passed off as your own?
  5. Melrose thread starter Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Thanks for the reply!

    It's copy lifted directly from one of my website; I have dates as to when my site was registered, and when their was registered (a week ago), but unfortunately there's no "hard proof" of when the copy in question was published first on my domain - I mean, unless you can count Wordpress posts/revisions as legally sound.

    I sent an abuse request to their hosting provider, and despite the fact that several large chunks are directly copied, some paper pusher sent me a quick response saying "we looked at it and didn't see any similarities." I'm currently trying to find an actual email address to send a DMCA, however the company is based in Australia and the person doing the violating is in the UK. Lovely.

    It's a pretty crappy rip off, but there's still steps I have to take to protect myself and my business... you know?

    After refreshing the page a minute ago, I noticed they've removed some chunks of copy. It's still not all gone, but a fair amount is.

    Probably, unfortunately, it's the nature of doing business on the internet - you deal with low life trolls who churn 'n burn and fly by night. I don't predict a huge loss of business given the obviously unoriginality of the software (at least on the surface).

    I've been able to turn up DMCA info online, and how to go about dealing with that sort of thing, but because they're overseas - both the violator and the hosting company - I don't hold out much hope.

    ...the really odd, odd thing is when I woke up this morning I had that Central Park scene from The Spanish Prisoner going through my head: "The Process, Mr. Ross"...

    Thank you again for your ideas and tips; I may visit a lawyer, regardless of how this turns out, just to get some things in a row.
  6. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    Hello Melrose,

    Please do visit a lawyer and if possible one who specializes in copyright law.
    Scepticalscribe had some really important points to consider (and questions to be asked). As usual she is very punctual. :)
  7. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020


    Jan 31, 2015
    Do you have any friends who are lawyers? The best thing to do would be to start with a cease and dissist letter, written by a professional. If you don't draw it up correctly, you're at risk for getting sued or not being able to have proper recourse. I imagine that will cost you a few hundred dollars depending where you live and how much prep work is required. It could end up costing thousands.

    You can try to address the infringer directly, just be careful what you say. As others have stated, make sure you document everything.

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