At least half a dozen times, fellow China bloggers have written me, apoplectic, about someone stealing their online content. Each time, I offer to write a threatening attorney letter (for free) but tell them that may not be terribly effective. I then suggest they first very nicely ask the offending party to take down the content. Asking nicely does often work and litigating against a Chinese company in China for stealing blog content is just not likely to make economic sense for most bloggers who make little to nothing from their blogs.
Through a very circuitous route, I now have a better, more comprehensive straregy.
Michael Atkins of the Seattle Trademark Lawyer blog is putting on a Seattle Law Blogger Meetup today. His post on the meetup links over to the blogs of bloggers who have committed to attend. I started linking over to those blogs so as to know more before I go. I have so far looked at just the first two and I definitely will not be lost for words in talking with the bloggers behind those blogs.
The first one is Spam Notes [link no longer exists], which is on “electronic communications, privacy, identify theft, data protection, adware, spyware, and more.” That blog has four posts on one of my law firm’s better clients. Whoops.
The second is Seomoz.org (written by attorney Sarah Bird), where I quickly came across an excellent post, entitled, Four Ways to Enforce Your Copyright: What to Do When Your Online Content Is Being Stolen, explicitly detailing what to do upon discovering someone has stolen your content.
Now that IS China relevant. Blissfully, none of the four steps require a lawyer and they are as follows:
1. Ask the offending party to take down the content.
2. “Send a Take-Down Notice to the Online Service Provider (“OSP”)”
3. “Send a Take-Down Notice to the Company that Registers the URL”
4. “Send a Take-Down Notice to the Search Engines”
Contacting the search engines makes particular sense if you are dealing with an entirely China based content thief.
Ms. Bird concludes her post with the following wise instructions on when to bring in the hired gun a/k/a international IP litigator.
The great thing about each of the above steps is that they don’t necessarily require an attorney. However, if you’re getting some flack from any of the above parties, a strongly worded nastygram from an attorney with fancy letterhead may set things right.
Obviously, a lawsuit is a last resort.
I can hardly wait to read some more of my fellow Seattleite’s blawgs. Oh, and just to make sure I achieve popularity at the party that my own natural charms could never attain for me, here is a list (with links) of the other bloggers expected to attend:
Eric Chiappinelli of Cases and Materials on Business Entities;
Bill Marler and Suzanne Schreck of the Marler Blog
Larry Munn and Jeffrey Vicq of Vancouver, BC’s Canadian Trademark Blog (yes, Vancouver is in Canada, but we Seattle lawyers view it as a Seattle suburb)
Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs (who I have known for years)
Jill Pugh of the Employment Law Blog;
Michael Rice of Coderights;
Mark Walters of the Washington State Patent Law Blog; and
Mary Whisner of Trial Ad (and other) Notes