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Someone stole my articles and photos

 
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Simon Hare
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:27 am    Post subject: Someone stole my articles and photos Reply with quote

Three articles I wrote for a travel company in Peru have been taken and translated and reposted by another travel company with another author's name, presumably the translator. They have also taken my photos for one of the articles. I have checked and the content has not been syndicated by the original company.

Id like payment for the work and at the very least credit and links to my website. What does anyone suggest?
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Nick Cooper
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would depend very much on the country of origin of the website hosting the copied text/photographs.
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Simon Hare
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Nick - The company who has ripped my content is based in Peru
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Simon,
The first thing to do is make sure you have authenticated copies of the alleged infringements: screenshots should suffice. Ideally you should arrange for someone else to do the screenshots and then have them provide a short statement to the effect that they did this on a specific date. This then forms independent corroboration of your complaint, in case the other travel company takes down the postings once they know you are on to them.

You don't mention where the other travel company is based. If it is in the UK then things are considerably easier than if they are based abroad. The fact that you say they have translated your articles tends to suggest they may be based outside the UK. Hopefully the country where they are based has adequate laws to protect your work, and a legal system which can help you obtain relief if that became necessary; if either of those things is missing, you may be wasting your time going after the other company because they will know how difficult it would be for you to use their courts
I assume that you either understand enough of the language into which the articles have been translated, or have obtained a reliable translation of them, to be sure that it is your words which have been used, and not just the photographs. This is important because obviously if someone has created a foreign language article loosely based on yours then this may not amount to infringement of the literary work, just the photographs. In law, a translation is known as an adaptation of the original work and it may only be done with permission of the author or rights owner. All countries which are signatories to the Berne Convention (which is most of them) should recognise this fact in their domestic law.

And although you mention that the Peruvian travel company didn't syndicate the articles, what was the detail of your agreement with them? Did you provide a licence for them or did you assign copyright to them? If you assigned the copyright then you can take no action in respect of the infringement but you are still entitled to a credit as the original author. However assuming that you only licensed* the Peruvian company, then you have every right to go after the other company which has used your articles. In the first instance you should write to them explaining that you are the author of both the text and the photographs, and that their use of your work is not authorised. Say that you require retrospective payment for use of your articles and a credit as the author. I suggest you enclose an invoice for the amount you would have charged had they asked permission. It is difficult to say whether this amount should reflect the reach of the second website, or just be based on a flat fee. By reach I mean the likely number of people who will have read your (translated) articles via the infringing site. For instance if this was a Spanish language site potentially more people will have read it than if it was an Estonian language site.

You then need to consider what you will do if the company either ignores or refuses to pay your invoice. Unless there is a considerable amount of money at stake, this isn't going to be worth taking to court, given that the court will have to be in the same country as the infringing company, if you are to have any chance of getting a judgment enforced. This obviously has increased costs for you as you will probably need to hire a local lawyer to bring your case, and you may need to travel to the court to give evidence. Clearly, any financial benefit you may gain in winning the case, has to be set against these costs. So assuming that this sort of cost/benefit analysis rules out taking court action, it is probably pointless mentioning in your initial letter or email that if the company fails to pay your invoice, you will take legal action.

A second possibility is that the company will deny responsibility and say they were offered the articles by a freelance contributor and accepted them in good faith. In law they are still responsible, but it then becomes a matter of whether you are prepared to spend more time trying to convince them of this fact.

As you can probably tell, I don't rate your chances of success that highly if this is, as I suspect, a foreign travel company. You may need to walk away if they fail to engage in a positive manner.

However, if the company is based in the UK you have considerably better chances of success, and recourse to the relatively cheap facilities of the Small Claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, should the company resist paying your invoice. What is more, there may be a chance of aggravated damages if the company persists in using your articles without payment after receiving your email/letter.



*If the licence to the Peruvian site was an exclusive or sole licence then you are morally obliged to go after the other compnay and demand they take down the translated articles (having first paid you for the use up to that point!). However I very much doubt that a sole or exclusive licence would have been involved here.
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Simon Hare
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They have replied to an e-mail sent by the owner of the site that I wrote the original works for saying that because they state they have translated it from the original and provide a link to the original site that they are not breaking any copyright rules!
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Simon,
I am no expert on Peruvian copyright law, but that is just rubbish. Peru is a signatory to the Berne Convention and Article 8 of the Convention says the following
Quote:
Article 8
Authors of literary and artistic works protected by this Convention shall enjoy the exclusive right of making and of authorizing the translation of their works throughout the term of protection of their rights in the original works.
Signatories are obliged to transfer the provisions of the Convention into their domestic law, and if you check Article 31(d) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation's English language version of the Peruvian Legislative Decree No. 822 of April 23, 1996 (pdf) you will find this is indeed the case. So under their own law that excuse would be no defence.
The fact that they may have included a link back the original site is irrelevant and certainly does not excuse the infringement. I take it they did not address the issue of the photographs, where it is a straightforward matter of infringement.
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