The Blog

Dealing with plagiarism (abuse of copyright)

Websites packed full of quality content stand the best chance of better search engine listings, but what do you do if somebody is so impressed with your copy that they they use it on their own website, word for word?

We’re under attack!

We were recently made aware that the wording of our ‘One Page Websites’ page ( has been copied (word for word) on the home page of a South African web designer’s website (prompting this advisory blog post). They will remain nameless (for now!). Usually, this is the behaviour of an amateur ‘bedroom web designer’ but you’ll be surprised how commonly this happens. Naturally, this is an infringement of copyright and there is a standard course of action can be followed.

Give them a chance to surrender

Before taking legal action, every other avenue should be explored but strict deadlines should be enforced. In the first instance, it’s usual to contact the offender and send a ‘cease & desist’ message. This is a polite but firm request for the offence to be dealt with. There are many free templates available on the web which offer an easy to follow format.

Further action

Failing this, if the offender does not respond or appropriately deal with the offence, it is usual to contact the hosting company of the website, the domain registrar and possibly, search engines such as Google, etc. In most cases, the hosting company is likely to take the action seriously and ensure that their customer deals with the matter.

Often, a ‘cease and desist’ request will have the desired effects or in many cases, the hosting company will deal with the matter for you (as they are ultimately responsible for the material published on their hosting servers). If the matter continues, unfortunately legal action must be taken but it very rarely gets to this stage.

Legal action

If it does, the truth is that most small businesses will not bother with the fees to take another company to court in a foreign country. Big brands certainly would and can afford to. Or you could shame them into submission if you were a web designer and could publish the crime!

But of course, as with most things in life, it’s professional to follow a polite course of action, allowing the offender reasonable time to correct the situation. So check back to this blog again soon and I might have revealed the offending party. Plus, another South African web design company has now been spotted at the same thing. What is it with these South African web designer? lol.

It’s all a ‘storm in a tea cup’ really but there are potential implications with SEO if Google gets the wrong end of the stick. It’s best avoided.


Copyscape offers a handy online service for checking to see if anyone may have copied the content of any of your web pages. They also offer a number of free banners (example below) which you can display on your web pages to discourage plagiarism. For a small regular fee, Copyscape can continuously monitor your pages and send appropriate notifications if an offence is spotted.

Read ‘Responding to Plagiarism‘ by CopyScape for a simple and informative guide. At some point, they will usually relent.


Scroll Up