Passion For Stealing

Posted by

As many of you may remember, I had a lovely time a while ago with people stealing text from my website. Now, someone has upped the anty by stealing the layout and logo design of my website. How did I find out? A colleague noticed the similarities and let me know.

I contacted the life coach who’s logo and banner layout was extraordinarily similar to mine, and within two days, she modified her logo and banner.

In another instance, the entire text from my home page was on another coach’s website. Within three days, she had removed it and replaced it with her own text. In both these cases, they said it was their website designer who had stolen my ideas.

Can we not trust website designers? Can we not have clauses in our contracts with them, stating plainly that they are creating original websites for us and any damages for copyright infrigment will be fully upon the website designer?

And why should I have to pay an attorney to get these modifications made, or to take people to court?


6 comments for now

Category: Website Planning
Tags: ,

Are Thieves Stealing Your Website Text?

Posted by

Last week, I promised you a story about a  thief.

There are some extraordinarily lazy people out there who would rather steal the carefully-crafted text from your site and put it on their own, rather than do the work on describing their own services and products.

Think it doesn’t happen or won’t happen to you? Think again.

Back in 2004, I wrote an article about how to create and run a mastermind group. The first sentence goes like this:

“There is synergy of energy, commitment, and excitement that participants bring to a Mastermind Group.”

When I type that phrase into Google today, there are 7,330 OTHER websites with that phrase on it. Wow! Is it possible that 7,330 other people all had a collective zeitgeist-intuitive moment where we all read each others’ minds and wrote the same phrase?

Now, truthfully, some of these sites are people who asked permission to reprint my article and who attributed the article to me (38 of them).

The rest took (STOLE!) the text from my article, in part or in whole, and simply put it on their site to describe their own mastermind group.

Here’s a quick test you can try:

  1. Pick a phrase from your website that you feel is uniquely you.
  2. Copy and paste that phrase into Google in quotation marks. The quotation marks tell Google that you’re looking for the exact phrase, all the words in the same order right next to each other.
  3. Note the number of pages with exact phrase on it from the Google results.
  4. To find the websites that also have your name on them (after all, if someone is copying your text, shouldn’t they say who wrote it?), type the phrase again in quotations, and AFTER the last quotation mark, type a plus sign (+) and your full name in quotations. It looks something like this in the Google Search box:

“There is synergy of energy, commitment, and excitement that participants bring to a Mastermind Group”  + “Karyn Greenstreet”

So What To Do Next?

The longer your text has been on the internet, the more likely someone will copy it. You have two choices:

  1. Ignore it, knowing that that Google frowns on duplicate content, so their sites will be penalized for having the same content as your own site, giving them poor SEO results.
  2. Go after the most egregious thieves, especially those who are direct competitors.  Here’s what to do once you discover your text has been stolen.

Whichever you decide to do, always, always remember to copyright your website with the Federal Copyright office. In the USA, you can find out how to copyright your website at It’s only $45, and the best investment you can make.

If you put a lot of work into the quality of the text on your website, consider creating a Google Alert to notify you when that exact text shows up on someone else’s website. Then you can make a decision what to do about the results. You can also use to find marauders.

30 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning
Tags: ,

Who Owns Your Website?

Posted by

Recently I heard a story that bears repeating:

Several years ago, a well-established company had hired a website designer to create their website for them. After working with this graphic artist for several years, they decided to move to a new graphic artist (my colleague). At the same time, they decided to move to a new hosting company, so they simply copied their website files from the old hosting company and moved them to the new hosting company. After all, they owned the website, didn’t they?

The surprising answer is No. Since the previous graphic artist  and the client didn’t have a “work for hire” written agreement, many courts would say that the previous website designer (not the client) still owned the work. And “work for hire” agreements might not cover the copyright complications of both the graphics work done on behalf of the client, and the software coding work done.

It would seem to me that a fair resolution to this type of case would be to use the assumption that the website designer was doing work for you, and therefore you own the work. In the legal world, this may not be the case, as websites include both graphic work and software coding work. These two types of work are protected differently under copyright law.

You can read more about this type of situation here:

“Who Owns Your Web Site Anyway? The Surprising Truth…”

If you’ve hired a website designer to design your site, check your written contract. Make sure it clearly states that YOU own the website upon full payment to the designer. If you never had a written agreement with your designer (or if your current agreement does not have this clause in it), it’s time to re-negotiate with your designer. Get it in writing. This is no time for verbal agreements.

When we ran a website design firm, our Passion For Business website design contracts clearly stated that the client owned the copyrights to the work we did for them. There are a few places where this may not apply: if you purchase stock photography or graphics for your site, then the original artist owns the copyright, and if you purchase a theme (like a WordPress theme), the theme designer still owns the copyright to their design work. Most stock photo and theme websites will grant you a license to use the photo/artwork, but will not give you the full copyright to the work. (This is also the case if you use plugins for your site/blog. The original designer/coder of those retains the copyright.)

If you feel awkward or embarrassed to speak with your website designer and ask for this in writing, then you are putting your business success in jeopardy. Don’t delay. Take care of this immediately.

What happened to my colleague in the above situation? She had to completely re-design her client’s website to comply with copyright law. It was good news for her: a nice revenue stream and a new, ongoing graphic design relationship with the client. It was bad news for the client: they had to pay for a brand new website design or risk being sued by the previous graphic designer. In the end, the client got a better website than they had before, but at the cost of a lot of time, money and frustration.

Read the companion blog post: Has Your Website Designer Disappeared? for tips on what information you need to get from your website designer to protect your website.

14 comments for now

Category: Website Planning
Tags: , , ,

The Plagiarism Saga Continues (Sorta…)

Posted by

Imagine my surprise this evening when I opened my email and saw this EntireWeb Ezine that was sent an hour earlier. What’s the big deal, right?

Except that this author took my article bullets and simply re-wrote the text.

I give up. What’s the point in writing original articles if someone’s just going to borrow your whole article premise, outline and structure?

I immediately wrote back to the EntireWeb Ezine, with this comment:

“I know he re-wrote the text so this isn’t precisely copyright infringement, but he took the bullet points nearly one-for-one, which makes him a poor writer, as well as possibly unethical, and definitely un-original. I wouldn’t accept any more article submissions from someone like him, if I were you.”

I hope they fry him.

Fat chance it will do any good, but at least I got it off my chest. I also wrote to Blue Apple, which appears to be the author’s employer, but who knows, the author might own Blue Apple for all I know. They have no clear information on their site about the players in the company.

The only revenge I have is that, if this website designer can’t even come up with an original list of 10 website mistakes, how good of a designer can he possibly be? It doesn’t take a mastermind to create a “top 10” list in their chosen profession, even if they’ve only been doing it a year. Unless, of course, you’re not paying attention.

Off the top of my head, I can think of 50 or 60 common website mistakes. Why did he have to take the 10 I had already written about?

On another note, I was just speaking with my friend Alicia Smith this evening, debating whether I should publish my upcoming six books as ebooks or paperbacks. My concern was that if I publish them as ebooks, someone could just take the PDF file and distribute it without my permission or knowledge. The more I dig into online plagiarism, the more I’m convinced that ebooks are just a plagiaristic nightmare waiting to happen.

6 comments for now

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning
Tags: ,

Do You Know What Really Hurts?

Posted by

In the continuing saga of plagiarized website text, I received an email this morning from a coaching colleague, who pointed out that there is another, fifth, site that has stolen my text. I should be immune to this pain by now, right?

Here’s the kicker, and why this particular one is so painful: this coach is an MCC (Master Certified Coach) which is the highest credential you can get in the coaching industry, a member of the ICF, and a previous client of mine.



Here’s a sixth site:

This plagiarized site is just a little over the top. Not only did they steal my text, but they forgot to change the links within the stolen text to point to pages on their own site. The links in the text still point to MY site!

Okay, that’s just stupid.

I can’t stop laughing. This is just too dumb.

4 comments for now

Category: Website Planning
Tags: ,