What should we do if we find any our contents allegedly plagiarized or otherwise illegally used?
The first thing is to keep the cool. The worst thing we can do is to act impulsively or driven by anger. Take a deep breath, relax and wait 24 hours before doing anything. If you already have your work registered with Safe Creative, you have much of the way covered. That said there are several things you should do, but ultimately it all depends on the specific circumstances of each situation.
1 .- The ideal is to have a lawyer to advise you. This is the basic principle that we should always observe. While many times by one or another reason we do not have one, a good copyright lawyer, is the best guarantee for any initiative to succeed, avoid errors and waste time. However there are other factors to consider.
2 .- Evaluate the situation. Coldly analyze what do you want to happen. Do we want the content to be removed? Maybe to get some sort of compensation? Do we have been plagiarized by a large multinational or perhaps it’s been just a little blog that nearly nobody reads? Is it worth getting into legal disputes for a paragraph, or a complete ebook of us has been copied and is being sold out there without even proper attribution? We must respond these questions and from the answers we will know what to do next.
3 .- Friendly solution. This is something you really have to think about, but in most cases the plagiarism and in general any misuse happen becasue of a simple confusion or not malicious mistake, like the sheer ignorance that comes from the belief that what is on the Internet, for instance, is free to use in whatever way one might want. Many times you can solve everything with a friendly approach that saves troubles to all. Depending on the analysis of the situation we might try to prove a friendly approach to solve the problem. In a significant percentage of cases sending a friendly email to remove the content, properly credit or respect the creative commons license solves the problem. If despite this approach the issue is not settled, there are more things you can do.
4 .- Collect your evidence of authorship. If you haven’t already done so, download from Safe Creative (or from the online copyright registry you’re using) your registration certificate and the registered content. You might give this authorship to you lawyer. If your lawyer happens to need more technical information about the strength of the evidence, he or she might want to contact us. Our attorneys will be happy to provide any required documentation.
5 .- Collect proof of the alleged illegal use. Your attorney will take appropriate measures to ensure the evidence of the alleged offence doesn’t disappear. Usually this is something to do with a notary. Note that if you start a process and then the site that has allegedly plagiarized your work happens to “disappear” you might find yourself in the situation of not being able to show that your content has been illegally used.
6 .- Send “cease and desist” letter. One option you have, if you like to try in case it might work, is to send a “cease and desist” request letter from Safe Creative. Go to “My works” and to the drop-down “More Actions” on the right of the content, then select “Incidences” You will need the email address of the person who allegedly illegally used your content. Fill in the fields to send the letter. You can keep track of the incident and see if the person has agreed to your request or not.
7 .- Initiate legal action. If the delivery of the “cease and desist” request does not change the alleged plagiarist attitude or even if he or she does, you still can take legal action, yes, always advised and guided by a good lawyer.
Too often there are people who will not or can not afford a lawyer. If this is the case, and the letter of incidence has not taken effect, you might want to bring out the case -without defamation nor insult- using the tools the Internet gives you for the dissemination of information.