Earlier this year I got an email from a friend who works as a coach. She was in a tizzy, because she had gotten this odd email from a stranger asking her about the status of their project. At first she freaked out because she thought she had dropped the ball on something. She looked through her past emails and files and still couldn’t figure out who he was.
So she turned back to the email. As she read further down the email string she realized that the signature block on the initial email exchange was not hers (and didn’t include her name or email address, just a close variation of her business name).
When she clicked through to the website referenced in the signature block, she realized that someone was using a similar business name to solicit clients with her exact website copy. The real kick to the gut was they were also using her photo, with someone else’s name. Luckily, they also had failed to change the text and mailto: link on the About page (which was how the gentleman emailed her and tipped us off).
Needless to say, there was a fair amount of panic, rage, and hurt coursing through her system when she wrote me an email.
I wanted to reduce her stress as quickly as possible, so I picked up the phone and called her. We quickly talked through my usual four questions and came to the (not so shocking) conclusion that this was something she could and should do something about.
So we both pulled up the website. I too was shocked by the audacity of the person. I mean what does your moral compass have to look like to think that it’s okay to use someone else’s photo to advertise your services? Not to mention stealing their entire website copy and using a phonetic spelling of the same business name.
I asked my friend what her ideal outcome would be. She told me that she just wanted it all gone.
So I started doing a little digging to find out information on the website and its host. I wasn’t surprised that the WHOIS information for the site was private, but I started to feel a little giddy as soon as I discovered GoDaddy hosted the site. (Psst…here’s the sites I used to find the WHOIS information and who was hosting the website.)
I got excited because I knew that there was a simple solution to this problem, sending a DMCA takedown notice.
So I popped over to GoDaddy and filled out their DMCA takedown notice form and in less than 24 hours, the whole website was gone. And my friend’s ideal outcome had been achieved.
While I was happy to help her go from anger and frustration to relief, I knew that the process that I used to make this decision wasn’t rocket science, nor did it require lawyer training.
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