When people steal your ideas, it is always frustrating: when this theft threatens your business, reputation and everything you have worked for, it is terrifying, unjust, and enraging. Makes my blood boil.
Much has been written about both sides of the internet, the good and the bad.
The bad? Internet predators, leeches, scammers, false information, the lack of privacy, the new trend of having it all “out there” regardless of the consequences, hackers – the list is a long one.
But there is another internet risk, too, one affecting small business people and something we should all be aware of.
That is, having your ideas stolen, blatantly, from your websites by rival business people, who claim them as their own, tarnishing reputations and ripping off the public.
Maybe you’ve been following the case of Men at Work’s “Land Down Under” allegedly ripping off the classic folk tune “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree”. Similar cases have been played out in the past, with artists suing other artists for ripping off their tunes, profiting from their work.
Well, the same can be done with websites, and, unfortunately, it is more common than one might think.
They can do this by simply copying an outline of your business, albeit a shoddier version, changing the domain name by as little as one letter, and stealing any information you provide your consumers to use on their own site. They may then charge consumers to view the information, or strike up deals with shonky business pals to rip off those who come to the site seeking information.
Impostors can design a similar website to another businessperson – but with added fees, lower quality advice and even false of misleading information. They may charge for services the original site provides for free, thus damaging the original site owner’s reputation.
And, it seems, there is not a lot the person being imitated can do about it. It appears that many people are getting away with this scot-free – all it takes is a knowledge of copyright loopholes and a sly and sleaze ball nature.
You may have guessed, I was recently in the in the throes of a battle – in fact, a few along these lines, and I cannot tell you how frustrating it is. It is disheartening to those who have built a business with the best of intentions, with not a thought to blatantly ripping people off, to see people muscle in on their territory.
Business people with integrity work hard to build a reputation of being fair, treating clients or customers fairly and honestly, and that this can be taken away by one person with little to no conscience or originality, has the potential to be devastating.
I believe in karma: what goes around comes around, and if that is the case, then those who simply leech of others’ ideas have got plenty coming to them. It is hard to keep that in mind when in the centre of a complicated, lengthy and maddening legal battle but I cannot stand the thought of people getting away with so blatantly ripping off the ideas of others. You know who you are, so you better watch out, karma will get you, big time.
So here’s some free advice: keep an eye on your business, vigorously protect your brands, keep up your integrity, and fight as hard as you can to keep your work, and your good name, in tact. It’s business battle, 21st century style.