From stealing images to copying website designs and ideas, it’s hard to protect your creative work when it is online and accessible to all. Today, the ease of viewing a website’s source code can be done by anyone with a web browser – there’s no need to hack a server or run a special program. If someone has copied your website, whether it be your content or your business name, there’s a number of things you can do to protect your site and enforce your intellectual property rights.

Copyright

Creative works automatically attract copyright in Australia. You do not need to register your work formally to receive protection under copyright law. Copyright cannot protect an entire website – rather, it can protect certain components, such as the content, the underlying source code and any imagery. You can display a copyright symbol and the year (for example, Copyright 2016 LegalVision Pty. Ltd.) to illustrate that copyright law applies to the work.

Has Someone Copied your Website?

Depending on the nature of the copied work, you can choose to engage a copyright lawyer to advise you on your situation. A lawyer specialising in intellectual property can draft a Cease and Desist letter stating that you own the copyright of the original content and demand the infringer take the content down. You can also make contact with the website owner stating that content has been copied without explicit permission. In this communication, you should provide instructions on how to remove the content, where the content is located and proof that you published the original content.

You can also submit an appeal to search engines where you can establish that you were the original producer of the content. Search engines have tools to remove content where it infringes copyright. For example, Google’s Copyright Removal tool allows you to report alleged copyright infringement per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This tool requires you to identify and describe the copyrighted work, proof of where the copyrighted work can be viewed, and the location of the infringing material.

If you publish shareable content on your website, such as infographics or viral media, you should ensure a Website Terms of Use is viewable on every page. This legal document provides clear guidelines on how content can be accessed, and whether it can be shared or re-purposed.

How Do I Protect My Business Name?

Infringing websites may also be using your business name without permission. This infringement could cause website visitors to believe that the site is affiliated with yours, or the website is representing your business in some way. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may wish to engage with an IP lawyer to issue a Letter of Demand.

A Letter of Demand will make known to the infringer that they are misusing your business name and must immediately stop using your intellectual property. If the infringer has earned profit through using your business name, there are a number of remedies available including an account of profits and damages.

Key Takeaways

If you believe someone has copied your website, gather as much evidence of the alleged infringement. Screenshots of the offending website, as well as a copy of the source code, can help establish your case and copyright claim. A lawyer can assist you with drafting a Cease and Desist Letter, or Letter of Demand. 

Questions? Get in touch with our IP lawyers on 1300 544 755.

Anthony Lieu

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