Copyright Infringement First Contact

 Is there a right and wrong way to make first contact with an infringing webmaster?

You decide.
I don't know how many times I have seen designers go for the jugular when they first find their creative work being abused on a website or blog and while it is understandable, it is probably not the best choice early on. Many designers first instinct is to stomp on an infringing webmaster with both feet or leave unbecoming remarks on their website or blog for others to see. Unfortunately some  even enlist friends or other designers to follow suite and they too join in. All this without the designer ever bothering to contact the offending webmaster first.

Right about now some of you reading this may be thinking what is wrong with shaming a webmaster into removing work that is not theirs if these tactics work. Well, there are several problems with this, and an equal amount of reasons why you may want to keep a level head and ask a few questions first. Leaving any comment on any website or blog regarding possible infringement no matter how polite can also complicate matters, because it causes embarrassment to the webmaster. I noticed that one of the new awareness campaigns suggests you leave a polite comment on someone's blog detailing the infringement. I would like to advise against this because you have no way of predicting or controlling how others reading your comments may react or what kind of comments they may decide to leave themselves. Things could get quite ugly and I have seen this happen many times. Causing someone embarrassment is probably not the best way to enlighten them, especially if the infringement may have been an honest mistake. Your initial contact with any one you suspect of abusing your copyrights should always be in private and if there is some reason for leaving a comment such as not finding an email address or they do not reply to email, your comment should probably not air all the dirty laundry in public.

Note: While it is ok to ask questions, and be firm in your demands, there is absolutely no reason to be intentionally rude without knowing if the infringement was intentional or not.

1. Things are not always clear cut and dry and these complexities muddy the waters alot.You should take this into consideration before you react.

2. ) Before jumping to conclusions you may want to give the webmaster the benefit of the doubt. Ask Questions. The webmaster may be new to the web and not versed on all the legalities of copyright laws. This is your chance to educate and maybe even win one over to the good side. Some times the converted can become your staunches supporters. People may not be so inclined to listen to you if you come on like a bulldozer and humiliate them publicly.

3.) They may have gotten your work on another website and have been mislead into believing your work belonged to the webmaster that offered it to them, free, public domain and ok to use. Dealt with fairly,the infringer may be more helpful in giving you their source and work with you if you handle the situation with some degree common sense.

4.) When you have to submit a complaint to a server such as Yahoo, Google etc they may want all your correspondence with the infringing webmaster. Should you be abusive in your correspondence, you may end up looking like the abuser and they may be less inclined to help you themselves.

5.) If you post ugly or accusatory remarks about someone on a website that is not your own and the situation is later resolved, you may not have the power to remove it. I have seen designers post on public forums or other people blogs where they didn't have editing rights so the comments are there forever giving both the designer and a novice webmaster a bad name.This is especially bad if you also post on a website that neither you nor the infringer has a right to edit.

6.) Public humiliation of other webmasters may also be against the Terms of use of many servers and if  you take it upon yourself to post derogatory remarks about others on your own website whether they are true or not, your site my end up being the one removed.

I am sure there are many more reason for proceeding with caution but equally confident that this is more than enough to hopefully make you take a deep breath and think a little before you leap. This page is not meant to be discouraging to artists, designers, creators or anyone being infringed on and hope those reading it will not view it as such. If you will consider the information here when dealing with abusers, you may save yourself a world of frustration.

Believe me when I say that in the past 14 years, I've been driven to distraction, done my share of hair pulling and can definitely sympathize with any creative person that has to go through this kind of abuse at the hands of the really dishonest. I will also add that while diplomacy is always a good first choice, if that fails one also has to have the determination to pursue it with avid conviction. I personally am like a dog with a bone when it comes to copyright infringement and  I have been responsible for having more than my share of infringing sites permanently removed from the web. I am generous to a fault, but those visiting any of my sites should also be aware that I take my copyrights very seriously.

If you have done all the proper things and the webmaster refuses to cooperate or are belligerent to you, there are other avenues for you to purse to have your work removed from their website. There is a link entitled Other useful links at the bottom of this page. Some will tell you where, to who and how you should report a site for copyright infringement.

If you found this information useful and would like to pass this on to other,
please copy my copyright awareness logo to your own website or blog with a link to my site.
If you have any problems and need help with the code email me and I will walk you through it.
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