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Victims of website theft reveal extent of the problem

It's happening a lot...
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

It's happening a lot...

Since silicon.com unearthed the underhand activities of a serial website thief, we have been inundated with examples of similar infringements.

It would seem the problem of intellectual property theft - the stealing of content, designs and images - is a common one experienced by many website owners.

One silicon.com reader, Gary Stanton, wrote in to tell us of his experience and showed us that even fairly niche websites are ripe for stealing.

"I run a massive body piercing website at bodyjewelleryshop.com. We sell loads of piercing jewellery online. Last year I came across 'Bodyjewelries.net'. A very similar website, which had taken every single one of my product images and was selling every single one of my products, at the same prices. Not sure how they did this, but the thing is that we have several suppliers, some of which are very small independent businesses in places such as Brighton. This website was run in the US and could never have got all the stock that we had, which leads me to believe that these people were just using the site to harvest credit card numbers.

"I did a whois query, emailed the domain admin and within 24 hours the site had just vanished. Weird."

Another reader, Adrian Lee wrote: "This isn't especially rare; I know several people who have had to send cease-and-desist notices to websites who have ripped content and/or design completely."

As if to back up the assertion that this is a far from rare event, Rob Kelley wrote: "Someone copied my entire site and changed the copyright into their own name. I called the ISP who closed it straight away - I was mad with anger that someone would do that."

Another reader who also got lucky with a responsive ISP wrote: "I had that happen to my site as well. Not only did they steal the entire site, but with pictures of me as well. A friend is the one who told me about it and I promptly sent an email to abuse@ their ISP and took care of it right away."

And yet another reader wrote of his own experiences: "I have had this happen to my websites too. I think many people either do a view source in their web browser or just highlight and copy the text. A lot of them still link back to your own images, so use absolute URLs for images and keep an eye on your server logs. If they do you can have fun replacing the image."

There was also some practical advice for those wanting to keep tabs on their own content.

"If you put a strange phrase in the middle of your text then it will be easier to find on other sites using a search engine," wrote the reader.

Has this happened to you? Submit a reader comment below and let us know.

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