They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
And as a blog grows you’ll find that more and more blogs start to flatter you. Blog Tyrant, like some of my other blogs, is being copied in some very overt ways and I just don’t know what to do about it. Do I get legal? Do I ignore them?
In this post I want to talk to you all about the plagiarism issue and some of the hot problems that can arise when someone starts to copy your work. I’d really like the amazing Blog Tyrant community to weigh in on this one so once you’ve finished reading please leave a comment with your thoughts.
Hopefully we can come up with some good ideas about how to deal with blog copiers.
So who is copying Blog Tyrant?
Let’s start this post with some background information. A few months ago a good friend of mine messaged me on Twitter to show me a blog that looked “similar” to Blog Tyrant. I took a look and found that it was virtually the same. The About Us page is virtually a straight rip of mine and the name is only a slight variation.
Then a few weeks later another one popped up, this time sporting a brand almost identical with a copied catch phrase to match. Let me be clear here, the name is only slightly different and the tagline just has some words changed. The logo is also just a different royal symbol in the same color.
So who are they? I’m not going to tell you. Why? Because I don’t want to promote them. I don’t want to give them a back link from my site.
I also don’t want to name and shame them because its not really my style. I still harbor some hope that they might see what they are doing as a mistake and start again.
What should I do?
I recently spoke to Darren Rowse and asked him for advice because I know for a fact he has had dozens of people try to copy him outright. He wrote back with this very good advice:
Ignore it and just be better.
I have to confess that this is my style. I am not a confrontational person and I don’t really get angry about things like this. Rather than being totally pissed off about being copied I am just sort of confused; should I say something? What is the right thing to do? Do these people know that this is a form of stealing?
A few weeks ago Darren even stopped by this post on stay at home moms making money to talk about a related issue – people syndicating his content. Turns out there was some confusion but Darren was totally against it happening at all, even with a link back to his site.
So what do you do?
Firstly, I guess it depends on the issue. For example, these two copiers aren’t ripping my content, just my ideas. Is that more or less serious? If someone came out with a computer and music player company called Orange and used their ideas, sayings and format do you think Apple would be upset? I think they would.
What does the law say?
I’m no lawyer but I did about half a subject on Intellectual Property Law for my Degree. As far as I can remember you need to be able to show that these copiers are either costing you money or making money because people are mistaking them for you. And for a trademark infringement I think you need to be able to show that what they have made is substantially similar/different to your logo. But I could be totally wrong.
There are also a whole host of rules relating to copyright such as the fact that you are legally entitled to be credited for your work and paid for any profits it makes. In Australia you don’t have to register for copyright but you might have to elsewhere.
So does one sue if someone is using a brand that is substantially similar to yours, in the same niche, in the same market?
What else can you do aside from suing?
There are also other options when it comes to internet copiers. These are less about the law and more about the terms and conditions of certain online companies.
- Tell Google
In Google Webmaster Tools there is a section where you can dob in people who are copying your content. I don’t know if it applies to brands though. This can result in them being banned from Google’s listings.
- Tell their host
Copying content is generally against most web hosts terms of service because they do not want to get caught up in hosting sites that break the law. Send them an email with some proof and they will quite often just turn the site off.
- Tell Facebook
Facebook are extremely thorough when it comes to banning any copies. Of course, this only gets them off Facebook.
Of course, these things should only be looked at if you’ve talked to the blog owner and they aren’t willing to work towards a fair solution. In my case, I have talked to one of them and, while they were polite and quite accommodating, not much seemed to come out of the discussion.
So what would you do?
I’d really like to hear from all of you on this one. What do you think I should do? What would you do if someone was copying your brand, ideas and layouts? Would you get legal or would you just do as Darren does? Please leave a comment and let me know.