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Someone Stolen Your Web Content? Think Before Sending That Email...
This will probably resonate with anyone in the real estate web design, blogging and intellectual property world.
Below is an anonymous copy of an email I sent to another real estate agent (in a different market) who accused me of "taking" content from their website. Their message came through via an online contact form. Their assumptions were incorrect - though there was some "spun" content. Moreover, the similar "spun" content exists on at least 12 other websites - rather benign information about "buyer & seller" services.
The relatively small amount of content (about 60 words - scattered about) was provided to me by a vendor, which I then significantly edited and added to - though it's pretty silly and boiler-plate sounding... so I need to further edit or rewrite it anyway... just never got around to it. It never occurred to me that the vendor may have copied the text - but they too may have obtained it from another party. So, I won't go by example and fire-off an accusatory email to the vendor at this point.
Regardless, it was far from anything that would be considered "copyright infringement" - at least in a true legal test. (And please, don't get me started on that topic... it's not the point.)
The point being, that there are SO MANY real estate agents with websites out there... SO MANY vendors... SO MANY of us who compose similar content. Protect your own work... but don't go-off sending emails accusing folks of things without simply asking some questions first!
Even in a recent case of RealFX.com being almost 100% copied, I did not send an email to the agents suggesting they copied the site. Indeed... they paid a designer. While I was rightfully upset about it, they immediately took the entire site down (literally, it was a replica - they had no other choice) and launched a completely different site 3 weeks later.
Yes... unfortunately your email was indeed upsetting - but you don't know my background, or "history" on this topic. (Another reason such emails shouldn't be sent out and "assumptions" shouldn't be made.)
With regard to hiring a designer and/or writer... I don't assume they will be stealing (or spinning) content. If I did... I may as well write it all myself. And in fact, 95% of the content on my personal site is my own, and 99.5% on RealFX (which contains A LOT of content). It is for that reason, and my own encounters with the same problem which caused me to take issue with your "assumption" that I had not only "taken" the content you saw, but additional content as well - meaning... if that content exists, well then surely there must be other copied content. So, you considered me "Guilty As Charged" - and moved-on to the next offensive website.
Truly... it was an arrogant message to send to a complete stranger. But... I've been down that road before (more on that below). Despite my experience on the issue, I think any other "reasonable" person would be offended just the same.
When chasing after this issue, I'd suggest you look at it from the perspective of the recipient of your initial email before hitting the send button. I've been in e-commerce, SEO, and all aspects of online marketing for 10 years - and have written & executed contracts for my own licensed designers regarding this very subject (previous business). So, this morning... I'm enjoying a cup of coffee while painstakingly writing another compelling blog post... only to receive an email which states as a "matter-of-fact" that I've "taken" content from someone else's site. Yes... that's a wee-bit upsetting.
While I clearly understand the desire and need to protect one's own work, and obviously don't take issue at all with the inquiry (as I do the same on occasion), I positively don't agree with the approach or the tone. Your email clearly assumed I was guilty of a purposeful and/or willful offense.
In my previous business (since sold), our designers had hair-trigger tempers regarding others "stealing" their design work. Despite my warnings, they repeatedly sent accusatory and/or nasty emails to our competitors' designers (without my knowledge), even in cases where it remotely "looked like" someone had copied or created something "based-upon" theirs. They were perennially worked-up about it all - yet they weren't willing to spend their own money to do anything about it (in cases of egregious theft that might actually result in something).
Moreover, they seemed to actually enjoy the drama of it all - I guess it made them feel powerful. As a result, a couple of the designers destroyed one of my key vendor relationships by jumping to conclusions. The "wrong person" received one of those emails, and that was the end of that relationship, costing 10's of thousands of dollars... not to mention any goodwill. Due to this drama (and the completely irresponsible emails) I terminated their contracts - likely at a cost to them between 50K - 100K each in annual royalties.
So you can see... that "yes" I do take issue with presumptive emails being sent to complete strangers - especially regarding this topic. Yes... I realize it's a pain in the butt these days, and it gets "old" to politely inquire first, and ask questions and/or "accuse" later. But, it's just the right thing to do.
Anthony Gilbert is a real estate agent and REALTOR® with Windermere Real Estate serving residential home buyers and sellers on Seattle's Eastside.
Thank you for visiting! I am a full-time real estate broker and REALTOR® with Windermere Real Estate, located in Bellevue, Washington. I specialize in serving clients in the Eastside Seattle communities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Sammamish, Fall City, North Bend, and Snoqualmie Ridge, where I reside. I look forward to assisting you with your real estate needs.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.