Website Plagiarism / Electronic Copyright Infringement

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Modified on 2009/12/16 02:15 by Nick Carroll
Websites are critical to modern business. They are central to e-commerce and marketing. They also take a great deal of time, energy and money to develop.

Unfortunately, some businesses would rather not spend the energy or finances necessary to generate original content. Instead, they plagiarize material from competitors' websites and incorporate it into their own. This constitutes copyright infringement.

The Copyright Act provides two primary remedies: (1) it allows the owner of the copyrighted material to stop the infringement and (2) obtain damages and attorney fees from the infringer. Both types of relief are available even if the copyrighted material has not been registered with the United States Copyright Office before the infringement occurs.

While registration before infringement allows the copyright holder to recover statutory damages and attorney fees, the owner of an unregistered copyright still has a number of significant rights. Specifically, the holder of an unregistered copyright can recover damages for its lost profits, the infringer's profits (which may be very substantial if the infringer is a large or successful company) and an order from the court prohibiting future infringement.

Even if the infringer does not appear to have a wildly successful business, a copyright holder should still act. Legal action will maintain the integrity of the copyright. Also, the infringer may well have insurance coverage under the "advertising injury" section of its business (sometimes call Comprehensive General Liability or "CGL") insurance policy.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides additional rights. Specifically, it allows the copyright holder to require the Internet service provider (ISP) hosting the infringer's website to delete the plagiarized contents. If the ISP does not comply, it can be sued for "contributory infringement."

See Also

  1. Website Plagiarism: Frequently Asked Questions
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