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Legal question

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gregLegal question
by on May 28, 2005 at 7:45:44 am

I recently encountered a web site that is a complete copy (not just style rip) of a web site I designed 2 years ago.

The design firm has clearly taken screen shots and replaced content for their client. There is no adaptation and I did have copy right marks on the sight... does anyone else have any experience with this sort of situation?

I believe the design firm took the work from my portfolio as the original site isn't up anymore. I'm curious as to how I should proceed, mainly I would like to find out who is behind this, and make sure they get the recognition they deserve. However, I might consider monetary damages as well.

I am considering contacting the client directly and outing the contracted design firm that way... But, I'm concerned about playing my hand that way. If someone has had some sort of similar experience I would really like to find out more about this.

Thanks much

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Chip JohnsRe: Legal question
by on May 30, 2005 at 2:59:07 am

If you decide that you want to be compensated, get an attorney from the very beginning.

Less aggressive approach: Contact the owner of the site. Tell them that they must pay you for the work, or the site must come down. If they refuse to take any responsibility you will then need to get an attorney.

You can also take seperate action against the design firm. They sold property that belongs to you!!

The law has really increased in favor of the web develoer and site owner when it comes to copyright infringement. If you can prove your ownership of copyright property you can go straigt to the hosting company, and they have to pull the site.

Take some kind of action. This design company has probably been doing this to many of us. If you have a case, take 'em down!


Chip Johns

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Bret WilliamsRe: Legal question
by on May 31, 2005 at 3:24:00 am

You can basically make them stop, either by having an attorney threaten them or do it yourself, or you can sue them for money. The second will require you to prove damages. What are the damages in this case? Lost business essentially. The client wanted a particular site. The design firm stole yours because it fitted the bill. The lost business was that they should have hired you to do it or sell it or whatever. The fact that they could've created something themselves is beyond the point. That's the crime. They didn't. Had you not created it it wouldn't have existed, and they would've had to create it themselves, costing them time and money. So they saved time and money by appropriating your creative wares.

Side note...
FWIW to anyone reading, this is exactly what you're doing when you utilize music for your own video production, etc. Even if you're just using it for "demo" purposes. Demos are advertising. Your advertising benefitted from someone elses creation. Your benefit garners clients and money. The damages are basically the profits from any client that chose you after you used the stolen music for demo purposes. Ok, rant over.

So in this case the damages are pretty small. The money you would've charged for the site in question. Worth an attorney? I dunno. Maybe. Sometimes it's nice just to make an example like the record companies do just to keep things in check.

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