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Snatch Your Website Back From Copyright Infringers

In my previous article What to Do When Your Website is Stolen we discussed what can be done when your website copyright has been ignored by an evil SOB who then imports all your content into another website. In this article we are going to discuss some actions you can take to regain control of your website and maybe send a personal message to the evil SOB now profiting from your hard work.

One of the first steps you can take is to block the SOB using simple techniques, such as denying access within .htaccess.

In the case we referred to in our previous article, the evil SOB was dragging our website into a subtle looking frame within his website whenever a specific search result link was clicked. Their site calls our site, grabs the content, places it in a wrapper and displays it in a manner that may make it appear our page is his page.

Identifying the incoming copyright infringer is important. A quick way to do that is to view your logs while clicking on their troublesome link. You will quickly see the website and the query they are using.

Let's say that evil SOB's website is You could add the following line to your .htaccess file:

#if the request came from Evil SOB
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://foo\.com$
#then serve it a 403 Forbidden
RewriteRule . - [F,L]

His offending queries will now be stopped?until he changes domains.

Another technique you can try is capturing the referrer as it comes into your website. While the offender could technically link to any page, he will generally capture your index page. Once he has that he has access to nearly everything. This is because he keeps all the links in your site controlled in his website frame. So when someone clicks a link on his faux page he makes another http request and pulls in content related to the intended target. Crafty little devil.

But, if you capture unique identifying data within the incoming HTTP request you may be able to begin serving up content of your choosing and display it on evil SOB's website.

Assuming you are on a server with a LAMP install (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) you could try something like this:

Create a php file and call it evilSOB.php. You will include evilSOB.php at the top of each page document you want to protect. Add the following:

$referrer = $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER']; // this should capture the incoming website
if($referrer == {
// insert your response or action code here

Make sure to change the content in the if($referrer line to reflect what ever the incoming referrer is you want to redirect. Save the file. Now here is where the fun begins. We can now display whatever content we want to have appear on evil SOB's website. He's the one indiscriminately stealing the data so you can send evil SOB just about any content you want as long as it isn't something illegal.

If you want to have a Copyright Infringement Warning displayed, all you have to do is create the content and insert it beneath the line that says: // insert your response or action code here

You could send something like:

"You were expecting to be viewing content from 'insert web address but not as an anchor tag', but instead you are seeing this page because the website you are viewing it on is violating our copyright by importing our content into their website?"

Resave evilSOB.php.

That may be enough to appease your anger and wrath. But then again, the evil SOB is ignoring your copyright and displaying your content. Maybe you want to display pages of other websites and do so in randomly. This is easy to do. Get rid of the warning you were sending them and reaplce it with the following script:

$randomizer = rand(1, 5);
switch($randomizer) {
	case '1':
	case '2':
	case '3':
	case '4':
	case '5':
header ("Location: $URL");

Resave evilSOB.php.

This script randomly picks a number between 1 and 5 and stores it as the $randomizer variable. This variable then gets compared in a switch. The random number created then puts a specific redirect into the $URL variable and hands it off to the header function. The header function will redirect evil SOB to the new site and infringe their copyright as well. You are simply providing a redirect. A theif doesn't have to steal data. He doesn't have to import your copyrighted data into his website. But he chooses to do so. Warning! Before doing this consult an attorney and check on the legality.

The Magic Mirror

There is another technique you can use. It eats up bandwidth of the copyright infringer and will ultimately crash the page on the browser of the wite visitor. I call it the Magic Mirror. If you face two mirrors against each other you get a repeating reflect that goes on endlessly.

The Magic Mirror works like this: You detect the incoming referrer as in our scripts above, but you immediately redirect it using the same referrer. This will cause their page to make repeated calls to?their page. Watching it live, in frames, you see page after page of their website become included in their own frame. The calls will repeat non-stop until the page crashes. This may eventually bring down the browser window of the site visitor.


It all comes down to frames. In most cases evil SOB is nabbing your copyrighted website, placing it in a software wrapper and inserting it into a frame on his website.

Wikipedia has an excellent alternative to the above solutions. The Modern Framekiller

You may be able to avoid the entire SNAFU by skipping the evilSOB.php script and instead simply adding a small snippet of code to the top of your documents:

This script will be delivered with your content and break your website out of the frame. When a visitor clicks on the link leading to your stolen data, the above script will be delivered as well. It will momentarily plunge itself into evil SOB's website and then break out of the frame and redirect right back to your original page. With a little more effort you could probably train it to give evil SOB the finger on its way back out. But we're professionals here.

If your website content is being stolen by evil SOBs ignoring your copyright, you need to fight back. Follow all the reporting requirements we addressed in our previous article What to Do When Your Website is Stolen and incorporate some of the techniques above to Snatch Your Website Back From Copyright Infringers.

By the way, this article, like all articles I write, is Copyrighted. Don't be an evil SOB and use it without permission.

Stewart White