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I lead IS for my organization and the other day we found out a competitor stole all of the Copy Text from our corporate site and pasted it nearly verbatim to their own (the only changes were to reflect their company name, rather than ours).

I've been under the impression that once you do the task of writing something, you own it, and all the rights associated therein. I'd had a similar discussion with my editor at my publishing house and this was the impression I walked away with.

Our CEO is taking the steps with his lawyers to execute an official copyright to further protect our intellectual property, but given that we currently do not have a registered copyright for the Copy Text on the site, can we still enforce a DMCA (the lawyers have also been asked to execute a DMCA take-down notice as well)?

If there is a better SE site for this, please point me in the right direction rather than closing/deleting the post as either of the later would do nothing in the way of getting me on the right track (I asked in stackoverflow and the question was removed with no explaination aside from a link to the FAQ which doesn't immediately explain why the question would have been removed.)

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Unlike trademarks, copyrighting of material such as images and text does not require registration. As long as you can provide original ownership of the item then no one has the right to steal someone elses creation. Matter's such as this is best left to copyright lawyers and they will advise everything I have said plus more some... since we webmasters are not the brightest when it comes to copyright law and so forth.

On the other hand you should take into consideration is if Google had indexed your site with the content before it was copied then this actually 'HARMS' your competitors rankings since they are using duplicate content. So by them stealing your content it actually works in your favor until the point they get direct visitors that are not using search engines.

But also a DCMA take-down request may work in your favor as well since temporary their pages will be unavailable until the content is resolved and I imagine this can be damaging too.

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Yes you can in this case, but you need to watch out for fair use whenever submitting a DMCA (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html). I wouldn't count on google harming them because google could just as easily think you are the duplicate, especially if the stealers spoofed their timestamp so it looks like it came before you. Good luck and try doing a whois (http://whois.net) lookup on them to get an email. It might work, it might not, but at least you will be able to find their webhost, which you will probably have better luck complaining to. In 99% of cases you can find the webhost by looking at the record labeled nameserver, which probably will be something like ns1.thewebhost.com.

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