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A Pirate You Were Not Meant To Be
Old 03-21-2012, 01:06 PM
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Seraph Seraph is offline
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Default A Pirate You Were Not Meant To Be

Alrighties, I promised I'd explain what happened, so here it is.

I've been having a lot of problems lately with people pirating and copying my website designs, and selling them on the sly. Its absolutely frustrating, as you can imagine. I mean, its tough enough making a living lately, let online one online, so the piracy actually hurts in more ways than one.

So on Friday, I got an email from someone letting me know that this one website has several pirated versions of some of my templates for sale!

I promptly form a Cease and Desist letter, and send it to the website promoting it, after noting that they claim to be the owner of the design company.

The owner doesn't reply at first, so I check around on a couple of other places, and find his Facebook, and a chat room that he frequents a lot. In the chat room, I casually inquire about this guy, and promptly everyone scatters, except for one guy. He's very standoffish, asking why I want to look for him, and I explain, well, pirating is bad, and I can get his hosting yanked. Turns out chat guy is using some of owner's hosting himself, and doesn't want that pulled, so he gives me all of his contact info, including his messenger.

I proceed to hop on IM, and catch owner online. Turns out, he was in the middle of reading the email I sent, and was FREAKING. I mean major freak out mode "don't sue me, don't sue me". I said just remove the stuff off your little design site, please, that's all.

Oh, but he doesn't own that, actually.

He was just claiming it was his because the design site offered him a cut of any sales, and he figured he'd sell more if he tried to purport it as his. Yeah well, look how that worked out, eh?

He turns around and gives me the username of the guy who actually owns the design site. Apparently, he never emailed the guy, just PM'd him back and forth on a forum somewhere, he doesn't really remember which one, but the name was like <blah blah> Ah hah, we're getting closer now!

A quick Google search turns him up quickly, so I hop onto the forums, register, and send him an email, plus a PM, and then poke around a bit.

Yeeeep, there's at least three threads on the forums where he and another user (who we'll call Small Time Pirate) on the forums are selling my stuff. Lovely. I reported the posts, then posted on the threads about who I was, and the fact that the items being sold were stolen....whoever got them would be facing a C&D letter, so it'd be a good idea not to buy them.

Nobody responded until the next day. Small Time Pirate decided it'd be a great idea to blame his theft on a "design blog that showed me how to do this". I asked for the URL, but he'd just so happened to have accidentally deleted his browsing history yesterday, woops! I said that didn't really matter, kind of hard to believe a design blog would not online describe how to do my exact design in such detail, but to leave in my watermarks? Now that was just weird.

STP got nasty at that point, cursing at me, and saying that he could duplicate my ENTIRE work in less than five minutes in Photoshop. I said go for it, prove it.

Six hours later he sends me a tiny screenshot of a very small portion of my work, and tries to gloat about it. I guess I shouldn't have said my next thing, but I replied "Yep, thank you for proving you not only couldn't pull off the same detail and quality of design, but that it's obviously much more difficult than a few minutes of work."

Then, out of the blue, the forum admin gets involved, and posts that he doesn't believe my claims that my work is stolen. In fact, he's slightly inclined to believe that I am the thief, and that I need to provide proof that I'm not.


Fine, whatever. Within a few minutes, I posted a TON of screenshots of sales, file creation dates, and promotion dates from when I first launched those designs.

I'm sick and tired of this, now. Its Sunday at this point, and I'm tired of this little dance. So I pulled out the big guns.

It's DMCA time!

Now, a DMCA notice is the really big WMD. Basically, its a sworn statement that cannot be ignored by who you send it to, or you can sue the unholy bejeebers out of them. As a nice caveat though, if you're wrong *at all* about what you claim, they can promptly do the same to you. So its a double edged sword, but oh, what a whammy.

I proceeded to send a triple-checked over DMCA notice to Main Pirate's hosting provider. They are legally obligated to reply within 24 hours, but, they replied in less than 15 minutes. On a weekend. A Sunday, no less. :P

MP's hosting apparently took one look at the claim, and saw the obviously pirated material immediately. They in turn sent a notification to Main Pirate to pull that stuff down, NOW. I thanked them, and promised I'd check back in the morning.

Monday morning, oh happy day.

MP's hosting provider finally got through to him, and he immediately pulled all of the material off his site. On the forum, I guess the overwhelming amount of evidence convinced the forum admin, who had him remove the images as well from there.

He even sent me a personal apology, stating that he was very sorry, and that he only copied it because a customer of his requested that he do it for cheaper than what I was selling it. He wanted the money, so he didn't think twice.

I thanked him for removing it, and explained that for the future, if someone asked him to copy work like that, he should just explain to them that it would be more expensive for them in the end, after they got hit with a copyright suit! I also told him that I looked at his work, and he has potential, that he shouldn't waste it by copying others, and to work on refining his own talent.

Guess that got through to him, because he thanked me, and said that he never thought of it that way, and that he'd keep in touch with me, to show me how he was progressing.

Never did hear again from STP, not that worried about him, honestly. Turns out its a young kid, but I'll be keeping an eye out for him just in case. MP said he'd talk to him, so hopefully, that will also be settled.

In the end, I'm just happy that it wasn't too overly stressful, and that he removed all of my stuff.
By popular request....I am now officially the Enemy of Normalcy.

"What is unobtainium? To Seraph, it's a normal client. :P" -- Observant Friend

Old 03-21-2012, 01:40 PM
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Pwned. 'Nuff said.
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:13 PM
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Jay 2K Winger Jay 2K Winger is offline
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Nice pwnage! And if Wannabe Pirate (as I'll call MP) truly does have promise, you might just have helped save his ass and give him some worthwhile advice for the long run.

As for Small Time Penis, sorry, I meant "Pirate," I agree, he's just some Internet douchebag who can be safely ignored... but keep an eye out, he strikes me as the sort who will try to find some way to (impotently) retaliate.
PWNADE(TM) - Serve up a glass today! | PWNZER - An act of pwnage so awesome, it's like the victim got hit by a tank.

There are only four Horsemen of the Apocalypse because I choose to walk!

Old 03-21-2012, 02:57 PM
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Crossbow Crossbow is offline
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As if the epic tale of the Domicile of Despair wasn't enough to remind us why you shouldn't mess with Seraph, we get this.

Glad they decided to do the smart thing and pull everything down.
"If your day is filled with firefighting, you need to start taking the matches away from the toddlers…” - HM

Old 03-21-2012, 03:07 PM
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Food Lady Food Lady is offline
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Your mantra is document everything, and I can see why. Why people always got to be tryin' to abuse you?

Old 03-21-2012, 03:37 PM
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Mytical Mytical is online now
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Quoth Food Lady View Post
Your mantra is document everything, and I can see why. Why people always got to be tryin' to abuse you?
If they had a clue how much Seraph documented everything, and how awesome Seraph is..they wouldn't. Alas they are clueless SC's, just trying to scam make a buck.
Engaged to the amazing Marmalady. She is my Silver Dragon, shining as bright as the sun. I her Black Dragon (though good honestly), dark as night..fierce and strong.

Old 03-21-2012, 04:36 PM
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Raveni Raveni is offline
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I wonder if Forum Admin got word about the DMCA notice and decided that he'd rather have his forum than argue about your pictures.

Old 03-21-2012, 04:58 PM
thansal thansal is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 262

Out of curiosity, why do you not simply drop a DMCA take down to the host immediately?

Because you are nice and would prefer to give people a chance to come clean?
Because of the negative social stigma attached to DMCA take down notices?
Because of the danger of using the DMCA take down notice (I didn't know that it opened you up to a counter suit)?

Honestly, I'm just curious.

Either way, I'm glad you were able to protect your work

Old 03-21-2012, 05:13 PM
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Seraph Seraph is offline
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Posts: 1,195

Because a DMCA straight out usually results in hard feelings, and a return pirating later on. I try to be as nice as possible before releasing it.

A) they relate better and realize its not just a faceless company, its just one small geek chick. They're usually more receptive to not putting up a fight then, and usually don't return to do it again.

B) word spreads if you start flinging DMCAs out, and usually in the bad way, and makes people want to try and test it.

C) and yes, the danger inherent in DMCAs is something I'm always keenly aware of, so I make sure I don't use them willy nilly. ^^
By popular request....I am now officially the Enemy of Normalcy.

"What is unobtainium? To Seraph, it's a normal client. :P" -- Observant Friend

Old 03-21-2012, 05:25 PM
Matchstickman Matchstickman is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 3

Yeah... I can't let this pass by
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