Content licensing of our articles and images
Every three months, we register new content on this website with the US Copyright Office the way described here. This cost us $140,- per year but it gives us the additional right to sue for statutory damages up to $150000,- as per 17 USC Section 504(b) and (c) without the requirement to prove actual damages, as is the case with non-registered Copyright in the US. We will also be entitled to be compensated for our legal costs, as per 17 USC §412 and 17 USC §504(c).
The Berne Convention guarantees us an exclusive worldwide Copyright without the need for registration or displaying a Copyright notice. Some of our articles take weeks to research and require considerable expertise to write. Our book on ALS took us an entire summer. Our C60 site took months. Our websites are our "Internet real estate" and, since nearly all our traffic comes from Google searches, the combined value of our articles, user guidelines and books is several times that of our annual turnover. Since we wrote only a modest number of articles, the value of one article is extremely high. Certain articles attract more visitors than others, making those articles very valuable and our damage high when they are illegally republished. We can prove, using traffic data, how much traffic is lost after a case of unlawful reproduction.
In many jurisdictions, Copyright violation is punished as a civil matter or even a criminal offense and with good reason, because it would quickly abolish the entire field of professional authorship, including journalism. It would destroy our livelihood as well, and it would leave the public with very little well-researched news and information. US law provides for prison sentences of up to five years for those who violate Copyright with intention to benefit financially, such as displaying ads alongside stolen content or in case of trying to persuade a company to pay a fee to settle a trade dispute, etc.
Another problem with the copying of our articles is that Google's search algorithm may think we stole the content from the violating website, giving us a ranking penalty, further causing financial damage to us. Therefore, when a website republishes our content, there are significant damages incurred and we always try to recover those damages, as well as building a case file on repeatedly violating websites to strenghten our position in court.
Of course we have no problem with the "Fair Use" copying of a few sentences or even an entire paragraph, as long as proper attribution is given with a link to the original content. Copying an entire article is blatant riding on the success of our work - usually with intent to benefit financially. Our articles attract significant search, and ads are usually displayed alongside our stolen content. Above every article published by us is a warning not to republish it, and below every article is a link to our licensing fee structure on this page. That means that any unlawful reproduction of our content is done wilfully and in agreement with our licensing policy.
To recover some of the financial losses we incur on a daily basis due to the theft of our content by commercial websites, we have have the following policy:
1. We always charge for unlawful reproduction. Unauthorized copies of our articles or images are subjected to a retroactive licensing fee of $50,- per day per website or subdomain (not per copy), with a minimum license fee of $1000,-. This does not absolve the publisher from liability for (statutory or other) damages or penalties, and it does not permit the publisher to keep re-publishing our content. The website's owner according to the WHOIS information will be invoiced. If ownership can not reasonably be established by us, we will supoena for this information, since the unlawful reproduction of our content constitutes a criminal offense. The reason the minimum fee is relatively high is that the entire invoicing process will be done by a local attorney, and that is expensive. If supoena'ing is not practical or successful, we invoice/sue the web host instead.
2. PDF documents, audio and video for which we hold Copyright are subjected to the same license fee. We hold the Copyright to any photos watermarked by us, as well as to all photos in our online store and other places on our site, such as our forum, since the terms and conditions on our forum state that the uploader relinquishes their Copyright to us (non-exclusively).
3. We always sue for damages and criminal penalties if our license fee is not paid within 30 days after invoicing, plus we will sue for the non-payment of the invoice and we will lay claim on the site owner's assets in order to settle the matter.
4. We always send a DMCA takedown request to both host and webmaster (in addition to an invoice for the retroactive license fee).
5. We use various services to actively and constantly detect copyright violation of our articles. These services are expensive and that is another reason our licensing fee is relatively high.
6. We ask Google to de-index our stolen content through a DMCA claim with Google, as described here. Note that when Google receives too many of these requests, or when Google considers a site a "scraper" site, that Google often permanently de-indexes the entire site - which means the end of that site, likely forever.
7. Similarly, when a web host receives too many DMCA takedown requests, they may cancel the account of their customer. Be advised that we don't just send DMCA takedown requests - we follow up with a lawsuit if they are ignored. If we can't sue the webmaster, we will sue the web host, regardless whether DMCA applies in the jurisdiction, since Copyright is honored worldwide - even in China and Russia. We use our own attorney when the violation happened in a European jurisdiction and we use a local, IP-specialised attorney when the violation occured in miscellaneous locations.