Exactly What to Do When Someone Copies Your Work

Exactly What to Do When Someone Copies Your Work
 

Copycats are the worst.

It’s a design, photo, copy, or course that’s a little too inspired by your work.

It’s so frustrating and annoying to deal with copycats.

But there’s actually a pretty easy way to handle them…

1. Learn About Them

The first thing to do is learn all about them.

Visit their website and social media pages.

You’ll want to find out:

  1. What they sell

  2. Where they sell

  3. When they first sold the work

  4. Whether they have a copyright

Write all of this down. You may also want to take screenshots.

2. Are They Too Similar?

Next, you’ll want to review whether the work is too similar.

They’re probably too similar if they meet these two conditions…

They Look Extremely Similar, and

If it’s an exact copy of your work, then it’s definitely too similar.

If it’s mostly the same with a few small differences, it’s probably too similar.

If it’s inspired by your work but has a lot of different elements, then you’ll want to have a copyright attorney look at it.

They Sell in the US

You only need to worry about work that is sold in the US.

3. Know Your Rights

If you have a registered copyright, the new work is similar to your work, and they started selling it after you did, then you can likely stop them.

You can send an initial email, send a cease + desist letter, have their site removed, and file a lawsuit.

Keep reading to see what to do next.

If you don’t have a registered copyright, the new work is similar to your work, and they started selling it after you did, then you have limited rights.

You can still send an initial email and a cease + desist letter.

But, if they don’t stop, there’s not much you can do.

That’s why we recommend a registered copyright.

Read More: How to Copyright Your Work

4. Send an Email

If you have a copyright, the work is similar to yours, and they started selling it after you did, then you’ll want to send them an initial email.

It states your copyright, how their work is similar, and demands they stop selling your work.

It’s a good strategy to start friendly.

You’ll want to send with a read receipt so you know when it’s opened.

You should also save a copy of the email.

5. Send a Cease + Desist

If they haven’t responded to your initial email or they aren’t willing to stop, you’ll send them an official cease + desist.

It enforces your copyright and demands they stop immediately. Otherwise, they’ll face a lawsuit and be forced to pay damages.

We have a template available for you to send yourself or we can send it for you. We typically recommend sending it yourself at first and then we can followup with them afterward. It seems that copycats are more likely to cooperate when there’s an attorney involved.

You’ll want to send with a read receipt so you know when it’s opened.

You should also save a copy of the email.

Read More: Copyright Cease + Desist Template

6. Send a Takedown Notice

You may be able to have their website or social media account removed.

This is something you should do with an attorney, as there are legal consequences to doing it incorrectly.

7. Keep it Off Social Media

You definitely don’t want to post about it on social media.

It looks tacky and it can get you into legal trouble.

We’ve seen defamation lawsuits that started when one company posted an instagram story about another company stealing their work.

Keep it classy and handle it behind the scenes.

 

 

Free Download

How to Copyright Your Work

How to Copyright Your Work

In this guide, you’ll learn…

How to create work you can protect

How to file a copyright application

How the copyright process works

How to stop copycats in their tracks

Nicole SwartzCopyright