[Ultimate Guide] Muh Copyright, Duplicate Content, Scrapers, and Enforcing Infringements
Published 4 months ago | Last update 1 month ago 📌
Here is literally everything you need to know about basically every law that relates to web development, SEO, bots and scrapers, and/or Internet marketing
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- Trademarks and Copyright
- Domain Names
- Can you just fucking register “google.com” if/when it expires?
- What about that guy who registered “google.com” when it expired?
- Can you register non-expired domain names with other companies’ brand names in them?
- Can you register expired domains in other scenarios?
- How can I check if a domain was previously registered?
- Should I register all TLD variations for my brand name?
- Articles and Content Rights
- Do I need to register a formal trademark to prevent my domain from being registered by other parties?
- Do I own the copyright to articles I post on my own site?
- Can other websites use my content under “fair use” doctrine?
- Search Engines, Stolen Content, and Duplicate Content
- Will scraped content outrank my original article if search engines find if first?
- Will the scraped version be considered the “original” version?
- If so, will your version fail to index due to being considered “duplicate content”?
- What can you do to prevent issues related to this scenario?
- Should I care about sites hosting content scraped from my site?
- Are there scenarios where it is helpful to have other sites scrape and repost my content?
- How can I determine whether someone else’s rehosting of my content is malicious?
- Duplicate Content
- Are duplicate content “penalties” even real, or is that fucking bullshit?
- What even is “duplicate content”?
- Is it “duplicate content” to have multiple pages on my site that contain the same (or overlapping) content?
- Is blatant copyright infringement “duplicate content”?
- Are syndicated articles “duplicate content”?
- Are block quotes and excerpts “duplicate content”?
- Is spun and/or automatically generated content “duplicate content”?
- Is “boilerplate” content “duplicate content”?
- How can I minimize duplicate content issues on my site?
- About Scrapers, and Crawlers, and Other Bots
- Blocking Bots
- Should I [attempt to] block scrapers, crawlers, and bots?
- How can I block scrapers, crawlers, and bots?
- Are there other ways to control bots?
- Should I use one of those ghetto copy-paste blocking scripts on my website?
- Legality of Bots, Crawlers, and Scrapers
- Is it legal to write bots, crawlers, and scrapers?
- Denial-of-Service-ing Websites
- Trespass to Chattels
- Using Scraped Content Illegally
- Best Practices for Writing Bots
- Enforcement and Actions Taken
- Types of Legal Notices
- DMCA Notices
- Cease and Desist Notices
- Formal Legal Complaints (i.e., Lawsuits)
- Relevant Parties
- The Website Owner
- The Web Host
- Domain Registrar
- The Owner of the IP Address
- Search Engines, Social Media Platforms, and Other Aggregators
- In Conclusion
If you work in Internet marketing and/or web development, there are barely any laws that you need to know about. Here is literally everything you need to know about basically all of them.
Trademarks and Copyright
Can you just fucking register “google.com” if/when it expires?
No. Also, yes:
- Yes, if a major (or minor) brand’s domain name dropped and became available for re-registration, you should be able to register it through a domain registrar’s user interface.
- No, you cannot legally impersonate a multi-billion dollar company (or smaller company) for personal financial gain (plaintext article).
While there are a bunch of asterisks here, domain name registrations are not magically immune to copyright infringement claims, trademark law, criminal impersonation, and intellectual property laws.
What about that guy who registered “google.com” when it expired?
It is true that Google ended up paying a bunch of money to [a charity selected by] Sanmay Ved, the guy who briefly registered “google.com”:
You may have read about Sanmay Ved, a researcher from who was able to buy google.com for one minute on Google Domains. Our initial financial reward to Sanmay—$ 6,006.13—spelled-out Google, numerically (squint a little and you’ll see it!). We then doubled this amount when Sanmay donated his reward to charity.
But if Google Domains hadn’t been able to automatically cancel the transaction and that guy had tried to launch his own site on the domain “google.com,” a bunch of high-price lawyers would have immediately sent a bunch of letters to a number of parties and had the domain returned basically immediately. Also:
Question: What if the person who bought Google.com (12 dollars) didn't sell it back? Would he be the owner of Google.com? Would Google sue?
It would probably never even have gotten as far as a lawsuit, since most domain name disputes are resolved by arbitration under the UDRP [...] Google would have immediately reclaimed the domain, since:
- It’s their trademark,
- The registrant had no claim to the name “Google” (his name wasn’t “John Google” and he didn’t have a registered “Google” trademark),
- It would very obviously have been in bad faith (try explaining convincingly you really had no idea there was already a site at google.com; especially in this case, since the registrant was an ex-Googler).
Would they still, somehow, against all odds, have lost the arbitration, they could still sue. [...] Apart from getting back the domain through arbitration, they might still have sued for damages, just as a deterrent to anyone else getting funny ideas. [...]
Which pretty much covers what would have happened.
Can you register non-expired domain names with other companies’ brand names in them?
In general, no:
Under the newly enacted section 43(d) of the Lanham Act, trademark holders now have a cause of action against anyone who, with a bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of another's trademark, registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that is identical to, or confusingly similar to a distinctive mark, or dilutive of a famous mark, without regard to the goods or services of the parties. As with the UDRP, the legislation outlines indicators of bad faith and legitimate use defenses.
There are some asterisks and exceptions, such as fair use related to “comparative advertising, comment, criticism, or parody - even where done for profit.”
Can you register expired domains in other scenarios?
Yes, there are many legal reasons why a person might register and use a previously-registered-but-now-expired domain name. Notably:
- Many domain names are generic terms that are not necessarily associated with a brand. For example, dogs.com is owned by PetSmart Home Office, Inc and redirects to petsmart.com. If dogs.com were to expire, you would have a much more defensible claim to the use of the domain than if you tried to register petsmart.com post-expiration.
- The company/business associated with the domain may no longer be in business, and its trademarks may no longer be valid [Quora]
- Many domains that were previously registered may not have ever been used in any meaningful way (e.g., “under construction” pages for sites that never launched, domains registered by “domain squatters,” etcetera). They might have never had formal trademarks associated with them and also had no claim to a common law trademark
Additionally, if the legitimacy of you registering an expired domain is ambiguous, other factors that may come into play include:
- Whether you may have a trademark or other intellectual property related to the domain name;
- Whether the domain name is related to your legal name or a nickname (e.g., the domain is jsmith.com and your name is Jhon Smith);
- Whether your use of the domain is likely to cause confusion.
How can I check if a domain was previously registered?
If you want to determine whether a domain name was previously registered, the easiest way to do this is to use archive.org.
Should I register all TLD variations for my brand name?
Probably not. There are at least 1,000 TLDs and trying to manage all of these for your brand name is both time consuming and expensive, when yearly registration costs are considered at that scale.
I have had multiple people impersonate brands that I’ve run. Most of them were run incompetently and fell off the face of the earth on their own shortly after being registered. And resolving blatant, bad-faith copyright infringement is fairly straightforward; if you have a clear brand name and the case is straightforward, you shouldn’t even need paid legal representation to win a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) claim.
Articles and Content Rights
Do I need to register a formal trademark to prevent my domain from being registered by other parties?
Not necessarily. Common law copyright and trademark rights exist:
To acquire trademark rights, all one need do is use the trademark in commerce. Use, without registration, entitles the user to "common law trademark rights." Common law trademark rights extend only to the boundaries of the markets within which the trademark owner has actually used the trademark.
A common law trademark owner can get additional rights by registering the mark on the Federal Primary Registry. Perhaps the most significant right acquired through federal registration is the exclusive, nationwide right to preclude others from using the same trademark. In other words, a trademark owner with a federal trademark registration has superior rights in the trademark even with respect to territories in which he has not used the trademark.
With this in mind, this is one more reason why branded domain names are superior to generic/descriptive domain names:
Domain names that are trademarked brand names, tag lines or slogans, have a distinct advantage of being protected from infringing use. For instance, a search engine provider who sells advertising may have policies that stop advertisers from buying someone else’s registered trade mark as a key word. If your trademark is just a mixture of descriptive words, this may be a problem because even a registered trademark owner cannot stop others from using descriptive words in a descriptive manner. Sometime it helps to plan ahead for success and create a trademarkable domain name that has at least some distinctive element rather than all descriptive elements and use non-infringing names.
Of course, whether you “should” register a formal trademark may vary on a case-by-case basis.
Do I own the copyright to articles I post on my own site?
Yes. You are automatically granted copyright for original content that you create and publish on your website, including both articles and other forms of content:
When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Source: Copyright.gov FAQ
While there are reasons why you might formally seek copyright registration (such as “hav[ing] the facts of [your] copyright on the public record [with] a certificate of registration”), for the average online article, this is generally excessive.
Can other websites use my content under “fair use” doctrine?
Under fair use doctrine, limited use of unlicensed works is permitted in certain circumstances. As outlined by the U.S. Copyright Office, this is dependent on factors including considerations related to:
[The] purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
[The] nature of the copyrighted work
[The] amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
[The] effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
Source: “More Information on Fair Use,” U.S. Copyright Office.
The answer is “to some extent.”
Search Engines, Stolen Content, and Duplicate Content
Will scraped content outrank my original article if search engines find if first?
One common question that people have about SEO is in regards to what happens in the following scenario:
- You post an original article
- A bot scrapes your article
- The bot posts the article verbatim onto some site
- Google/Bing/Yahoo/other finds the bot’s site
- Google/Bing/Yahoo/other finds your original article
The questions being:
- Will the scraped version be considered the “original” version?
- If so, will your version fail to index due to being considered “duplicate content”?
- What can you do to prevent issues related to this scenario?
Will the scraped version be considered the “original” version?
Not necessarily, although it seems plausible that crawl order is relevant. Here’s a case study that I ran:
- Article posted on a site with a moderate amount of authority
- Article immediately posted onto various content syndication platforms
- Index order for the article and it’s syndicated versions was:
- One fairly weak syndication site’s version (DR 2.7 and UR 5, if you want some proprietary metrics; also, the article links back to the original)
- The original version
- The other syndicated versions
- Observations about the results include that:
- The syndication site that was indexed first consistently ranks prominently when the query “[Article Title]” is searched (positions 1-3; occasionally outranking the original)
- The other syndication sites barely show up in search results at all when the article’s title is searched
- The actually-original article usually outranks all of the syndicated articles, but occasionally appears lower than the first-indexed article
While it is difficult to make definitive conclusions or generalizations from this single case study, it seems plausible that crawl order is not completely irrelevant.
Of course, the original article still generally outranks the syndicated version in the example above. Authority (i.e.,links, both internal and external) is clearly a factor. And most garbage scraper sites have relatively low authority, which makes this problem mostly solve itself.
If so, will your version fail to index due to being considered “duplicate content”?
In general, unless your site has virtually no backlinks/authority, it should still index fine. In many cases, both the original article and syndicated versions will index (site:domain.com/url-here), although the one with more authority will generally rank better than the other.
What can you do to prevent issues related to this scenario?
For the most part, you don’t need to do anything. While it isn’t necessarily vital, you can help improve how quickly new pages get crawled by having an automatically-updated sitemap (if you’re using WordPress, you can do this in like five minutes with a plugin like Rank Math or Yoast), or by using whatever the hottest indexing trick is at the time that you’re reading this post (possibly this).
Should I care about sites hosting content scraped from my site?
Probably not, for the reasons covered in the rest of this FAQ section.
While the scenario of bots quickly scraping and reposting content sounds like it could be a huge problem to those starting their first website, in practice, I have literally never seen this be a problem over roughly seven years of Internet marketing.
Are there scenarios where it is helpful to have other sites scrape and repost my content?
Potentially. To summarize from the Ultimate Offpage SEO Tier List, RSS feeds can potentially get you some D-tier links (i.e., useful-but-not-great links):
Having an RSS feed set up can result in sites (generally low-quality sites) syndicating your content. Easy one-time setup. Good idea to have internal links in your article to ensure that scraped content includes a link back to your site, as scrapers may not cite the original source.
Even if the person/bot doesn’t credit you, assuming your article has internal links, then should still be included in the reposted article, linking back to your site.
How can I determine whether someone else’s rehosting of my content is malicious?
If you’ve found a site that is hosting a copy of an article that you’ve written, there are a few other things to check for:
- Does the page have a canonical tag crediting your original page? If yes, the site is explicitly indicating to robots that your version is the official version.
- Does the page include a link back to the original source and/or an author credit? If yes, it’s a free fucking link; what are you even salty about?
A fair amount of content “stealing” is more like content syndication that can end up being helpful.
Are duplicate content “penalties” even real, or is that fucking bullshit?
They’re mostly fucking bullshit. At the minimum, the scenarios that “normal” websites tend to be concerned about are fine. Also, most of the duplicate content “””penalties””” are just search engines choosing a canonical version of an article that exists at multiple URLs, which isn’t even close to the same thing.
What even is “duplicate content”?
The term “duplicate content” is somewhat vague, as there are a number of drastically different situations that are often referred to using the term (despite the fact that some uses of this term aren’t quite accurate for many of these situations):
- Multiple URLs on the same site that contain the same content
- Quoted material
- Blatant copyright infringement
- Syndicated content
- “Boilerplate” content
- Spun and/or automatically generated content
These scenarios are often all colloquially referred to using the term “duplicate content” even through there are differences in the implications in terms of SEO.
Also see Google’s official Search Console Help article on duplicate content.
Is it “duplicate content” to have multiple pages on my site that contain the same (or overlapping) content?
Consider these two pages, which are technically different URLs, despite being “the same page” as far as humans are concerned:
With these types of scenario, Google seems to generally choose a canonical/”official” version of the two “buy-cheap-shoes” pages to show based on which has higher authority, crediting authority from the other one(s) to the chosen canonical version.
Is blatant copyright infringement “duplicate content”?
As of the time of this article, the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines makes a distinction between syndicated content and “copied content”:
The word “copied” refers to the practice of “scraping” content, or copying content from other non-affiliated websites without adding any original content or value to users (see here for more information on copied or scraped content).
Important: We do not consider legitimately licensed or syndicated content to be “copied” (see here for more on web syndication). Examples of syndicated content in the U.S. include news articles by AP or Reuters.
This suggests that:
- Sites that are blatantly copying content without the original author’s approval and/or crediting the original author could potentially result in a page or site being manually penalized (although this is mostly theorycrafting, since I’ve never run such a site).
Of course, it’s important to remember that this document is used when manually reviewing sites for internal review purposes and is not directly representative of how Google’s algorithms work in practice.
Are syndicated articles “duplicate content”?
Syndicated content is content taken from one site and posted on another with credit to the original author. Whether this type of content ranks well seems to depend mainly on how authoritative the syndicated page is relative to the original source. For example, Medium.com exists (please clap).
See commentary in the section above on ”copied content.”
Are block quotes and excerpts “duplicate content”?
I have published articles in the past that consisted of at least 50% of block quotes and had no problem getting those pages indexed and ranking. There seems to be no negative algorithmic impact to extensive use of block quotes in content (at least up to the 50% threshold).
Also, the article that you’re reading right now has a fucking shit ton of block quotes.
Is spun and/or automatically generated content “duplicate content”?
Algorithmically, the answer seems to be a clear “no,” as I still see sites rank with it on occasion. Regardless, you of course want to note that spun content is still generally a shitty SEO strategy, unless you live in Ukraine and are just going hardcore with hacking sites and then cloaking spun content for search engines while redirecting human users to generic landing pages on other domains.
Is “boilerplate” content “duplicate content”?
See the answer for spun/automatically generated content. There are sites with boilerplate content that rank. You “shouldn’t” do this and it has some of the same problems as spun content. Also, this term generally refers to heavy templating; light-to-moderate use of templating is fairly common for content creation.
- Using Excel to Create Scaleable Content for eCommerce and Other Related Tasks
- The Ultimate Guide to Spintax
How can I minimize duplicate content issues on my site?
Some general best practices include:
- Choosing an “official” version of these factors and redirecting to that version using your .htaccess file:
- Whether to use or omit “index.php” (or comparable) from relevant URLs
- Whether to use www.site.com or site.com
- Whether to use https:// or http:// (the correct answer is https)
- Whether to automatically make all URLs lowercase
- Whether to omit/add trailing slashes
- Setting canonical tags for pages that have many variations (such as indicating that site.com/article-path is the “official” version of site.com/article-path?theme=dark-mode&ref=twitter)
- Preventing your internal search pages from being crawled (or a comparable solution to prevent infinite variations from wasting “muh crawl budget”).
Consider also reading this article by Shaun Anderson, which discusses a variety of other considerations related to duplicate content.
About Scrapers, and Crawlers, and Other Bots
Should I [attempt to] block scrapers, crawlers, and bots?
If you’re unsure, then probably not. Reasons to not block bots include:
- Because a lot of them are useful, including bots that you might not have heard of (particularly if you’re setting this up on a whitelist basis).
- You might fuck it up and accidentally block useful bots. I once saw a guy accidentally block every search engine except Google, which is dumb as hell. Also, he did it with a robots.txt file, so if he was trying to block some particular harmful bot, it would have just ignored the suggestion.
Reasons to block bots include:
- Specific harmful bots doing specific harmful things
- Non-malicious bots making excessive requests, using excessive amounts of server resources
- To hide data from various tools. Some Internet marketers that I know block various data collection and competitor analysis tools, such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Majestic. Personally, I think this is mostly irrelevant unless you’re trying to prevent competitors from finding some very specific thing.
Whether or not you should block bots depends on your exact scenario. In general, there is no real reason to block bot traffic.
How can I block scrapers, crawlers, and bots?
There are two basic ways to block scrapers, crawlers, and other robots:
- Create a robots.txt file. This can be done to suggest to particular bots that they not crawl your website. However, it will not actually prevent them from crawling your site, and since presumably this question is about malicious content-scraping bots, presumably they would just ignore this.
- Server-side blocks, such as with an .htaccess file. Using an .htaccess file (or comparable), you can actually enforce bot blocks such as by blocking requests from particular IP addresses.
If there is a particular malicious bot that you’re trying to block, the first thing you should probably try is checking your server logs to determine it’s IP address or IP addresses and to block them. If there are still problems after that, you can also look for patterns in other HTTP headers and so on.
Are there other ways to control bots?
Some other considerations include:
- Putting your requests for bots into your terms of service or about page. While bots and bot creators won’t necessarily read them, people making “good” bots might.
- It is possible to set up rate limits, such as restricting IP addresses to making a maximum of 30 requests per minute.
- There are third-party services like Cloudflare that can be used to mitigate bots to some extent
However, these are basically all related to preventing your site from being DDoSed, rather than copyright issues.
Should I use one of those ghetto copy-paste blocking scripts on my website?
Jesus Christ, no. Those things don’t even prevent users from copy-pasting content (as there are many easy workarounds). More importantly, they definitely don’t stop bots from scraping your content, since bots don’t “copy-paste”; they pull the raw page source. Also, they are obscenely fucking obnoxious and will just piss off your users (which costs you money).
See this Stack Exchange thread for other related commentary.
Legality of Bots, Crawlers, and Scrapers
Is it legal to write bots, crawlers, and scrapers?
Basically, yes. However, there seem to be three main things that people get into trouble with:
- Denial-of-servicing websites with excessive requests
- “Trespass to chattels”
- Doing blatantly illegal shit with scraped content
Making excessive requests to a domain can interfere with its normal operation. This can cause monetary damages for obvious reasons.
For example, one of the major issues in the case of United States, v. Aaron Swartz was than an excessive number of requests were being made to the JSTOR servers; according to email records associated with the case, "[JSTOR] saw over 200K sessions in one hour's time during the peak [of the bot requests]."
Trespass to Chattels
A “chattel” refers to personal property; the term “trespass to chattels” refers to “committing any act of direct physical interference with a chattel possessed by another without lawful justification.”
For example, Craigslist, Inc. v. 3Taps, Inc--which ended in a settlement--related to trespass to chattels. This claim seems to mostly arise in cases where bot owners were clearly/explicitly barred from accessing sites; in this particular case, Craigslist not only IP banned the bot, but also sent a C&D.
Using Scraped Content Illegally
Doing blatantly illegal shit with the scraped content, such as copyright infringement. Although this isn’t really even related to bots/scrapers themselves, but to the post-scrape use of the content.
Best Practices for Writing Bots
If you want to write a bot, probably try to not do those three things. The various guides on 256 Kilobytes about web scraping and crawling--such as this guide on the basics to web scraping with cURL and XPath--generally recommend that if you are writing a bot, it is good practice to:
- Set a custom user-agent with contact information, so that any sites who object to your bot’s actions can contact you;
- Rate-limit your bot. In general, I recommend one request to a domain per five seconds.
- More than 30 requests per minute starts to get questionable
- More than 60 requests per minute is in clearly excessive. Sites are likely to automatically block IPs who make this volume of excessive requests, as this can easily be intrusive.
Enforcement and Actions Taken
Types of Legal Notices
If a website is violating someone else’s copyright or trademarks, there are three general types of notices/messages that get sent: DMCA notices, cease and desist letters, and formal legal complaints (i.e., lawsuits). These notices are generally sent to the owner of the allegedly infringing domain, as well as to the domain host and potentially more of the other parties listed below under “Relevant Parties.”
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is a US law that essentially created the framework for how online copyright infringement is handled. While the act says a lot of things, most notably it outlines the following process for handling online copyright infringement claims:
- Copyright holder sends a DMCA notice to an online service provider (e.g., a web host or social media platform), claiming that (under penalty of perjury) some user has posted content in violation of their copyright. This is generally CCed to the user, if possible.
- The service provider either:
- Promptly removes the claimed content, in which case the service provider shall not be held not liable (which is generally what happens); or
- A service provider may “refuse to takedown the material. However, if they fail to do so, then they open themselves up for potential secondary liability for assisting with copyright infringement.”
- A user who is the subject of a DMCA claim has the right to (under penalty of perjury) submit a counter-notice. If such a counter notice is submitted, the service provider “is required to replace the disputed content unless the complaining party sues you within fourteen business days of your sending the counter-notice.”
Additionally, the DMCA states that:
To be eligible for any of the limitations, a service provider [...] must adopt and reasonably implement a policy of terminating in appropriate circumstances the accounts of subscribers who are repeat infringers
Although does not define a specific threshold for what constitutes “repeat infringers.”
The law is specific to the United States, but service providers in other countries tend to acknowledge DMCA takedown notices, since:
- They tend to have a significant amount of income from US clients/customers; and
- Other (western) countries tend to have comparable laws.
While there’s a bunch of text here, sending a DMCA notice is generally fairly straightforward and you should be able to do it on your own at no cost. Many online service providers have a form or similar that can be used to submit such claims; alternatively, there are various free templates that you can use for emailing DMCA notices.
Cease and Desist Notices
A cease and desist notice is a letter written to request that some party stop doing some bullshit.
While these notices tend to include a fair amount of legal terminology, often citing particular laws that are claimed to be being violated, there is no specific “requirement” for them to be “serious.” Anyone can send a cease and desist notice; you do not necessarily need to hire an attorney to draft and send one for you (although a letter signed by a lawyer on your behalf can potentially improve the likelihood of compliance with your requests).
A cease and desist letter generally looks something like the following:
CC: Webhost and/or other abuse contact points
I’m some guy or a lawyer representing some guy
I have a good faith reason to believe that you’re doing some bullshit that is illegal, which I will describe here. Maybe I will even cite a law.
I demand that you do some shit. Specifically: fkn stop, or take down that article, or whatever. There might be a settlement offer here.
People who are CCed: Here’s some law about how you’re also liable to help resolve this (e.g., web host must act expediently to remove a site hosting illegal content, or whatever).
You’re legally obligated to preserve evidence related to this matter, since you have been informed that there may be pending litigation.
Do the shit requested by [date] or I/we will consider all of the options available to us, including lawsuits.
There are also longer templates that exist on the Internet elsewhere, such as this one.
Formal Legal Complaints (i.e., Lawsuits)
If a website is doing some illegal shit, then a lawsuit might be filed against that website. In general, a cease and desist letter (and probably a DMCA, in the case of copyright/trademark cases) is sent prior to pursuing formal legal action; however, sending a C&D prior to filing a lawsuit is not necessarily required. Most disputes between websites don’t make it to this point, since lawsuits are expensive and it’s generally a better solution for both parties to come to an agreement outside of court.
The Website Owner
The most obvious party to contact in the case of an online copyright, trademark, or similar dispute is the person or party who owns the site in question. To find this, you can either:
- Do a WHOIS lookup, such as this one for 256kilobytes.com; or
- Just go to their website and look for their contact information.
For disputes that seem to be non-malicious, this is the most obvious place to start. However, most disputes are over dumb, petty, blatant bullshit, so in a lot of cases, this won’t go anywhere.
The Web Host
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, unironically what a great life), you’re probably aware of all this fucking bullshit about “muh publisher” vs “muh platform.” It turns out that web hosting companies are generally protected under the same “muh platform” laws as social media platforms. However, these protections do have asterisks. One of the most notable being 17 U.S. Code § 512, which states under section (c):
[...] In general.—A service provider shall not be liable for [...] infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, if the service provider [...] upon notification of claimed infringement [...] responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.
The implication being that web hosts have an interest in preventing their users/clients from hosting content that is in violation of laws and shit, which means that contacting web hosting companies is a common avenue for pursuing resolutions to allegations of illegal activity.
Note that there are web hosts who explicitly market themselves as not replying to DMCA and/or C&D notices. These companies are generally located in countries that are too busy being poor to case about copyright infringement.
Generally, when domain registrars (which can be located with WHOIS lookups) are contacted about disputes, it relates to trademarks being used in a domain name and the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). However, there are occasionally other disputes that domain registrars might be contacted over, like this case about whether “a mere domain name can be defamation” in relation to glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com.
The Owner of the IP Address
Many are unaware that IP addresses have owners to which they are registered:
Every internet protocol (IP) address used on the internet is registered to an owner. The owner may be an individual or a representative of a larger organization such as an internet service provider.
For the owners of IP addresses that are used to serve websites, this tends to be a massive company, such as Amazon Web Services or Cloudflare, Inc. To locate this contact information:
- Look up the IP address of the website that is hosting the content that you claim to be infringing your rights. This can be done with a tool like this one. For 256kilobytes.com, this is 22.214.171.124 (as of the time of this post).
- Once you have the IP address, you can use a tool like this WHOIS IP Lookup Tool to find the owner of the IP address. For 256kilobytes.com, the IP address owner is the same as the host (Dreamhost), although this is often a different company from the webhost.
- Once you’ve identified the IP address owner, you may need to search around to find the correct contact information to submit abuse reports. For example, Amazon Web Services lists an abuse contact email here; Cloudflare has an online form to submit abuse reports, such as here.
While finding the contact information for IP address owners can be mildly more time consuming than the other parties listed here, these IP address owners tend to be responsive to abuse complaints.
Search Engines, Social Media Platforms, and Other Aggregators
In the case that a website is infringing your rights, but the material in question cannot be removed (or is impractical to remove) from the Internet, there are avenues to minimize the visibility of such content by contacting search engines, social media platforms, and other websites that may be sending traffic to the infringing website (re: 17 U.S. Code § 512).
For example, this page documents the process of how you can “report content that you would like removed from Google's services under applicable laws.”
Hell yeah. You now know basically everything you need to know about laws and shit.
August Garcia is some guy who used to sell Viagra on the Internet. He made this website to LARP as a sysadmin while posting about garbage like user-agent spoofing, spintax, the only good keyboard, virtual assitants from Pakistan, links with the rel="nofollow" attribute, proxies, sin, the developer console, literally every link building method, and other junk.
Account created 1 year ago.
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9 hours ago:
Commented in thread Quality Content Dump: The Thread
Apparently this one isn't in the article. Here's hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp, which is another notable case.
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