Shifting Creations is no stranger to being ripped; the design has been stolen several times over the last four years. Surprisingly, the number one way I usually find out one of my sites has been copied is because the designers neglect to remove my contact details from either the contact form or the vcard. Note to website thieves: if you’re going to steal someone’s work, at least follow through with the job!

Usually, I don’t bother pointing out the infringing website and deal with the matter very quietly but since this seems to be a stubborn case, I figured I would outline some of the steps I take in case this happens to you. I start by sending the offending party a polite DMCA notice via e-mail (here is an example). The keyword here is polite. There is no reason to automatically assume the website owner knows they have stolen your work and, often, they are less likely to cooperate if you immediately start the conversation with an angry tone. I’ve heard all the excuses, everything from, “We didn’t know, our intern created it,” to, “I was just testing it out to learn from your site.” I rarely believe any of these stories but go along with it anyway and kindly ask that they take the site down as soon as possible.

If the matter continues and I have not received contact or a reason to believe the design will be removed, I do a quick WHOIS lookup to find out where the site is being hosted and then contact that company. To date, every host I’ve dealt with regarding a similar issue has been very understanding and quick to aid in taking down the stolen materials. GoDaddy, however, has decided to make the process even more of a hassle.

I’ve contacted their support multiple times now and, after supplying every bit of info I could think of, the only responses I’ve received have been the same robotic messages that don’t clearly explain what my claim is missing. I understand there need to be certain measures in ensuring my request is valid, but I’ve been amazed at how little GoDaddy is willing to help or even send a human response instead of copying and pasting. Regardless, I will continue to pursue the issue until the design of ArticleMS Skins has been removed. Until then, here are a couple highlights to check out before the site is down:

  • The contact page clearly still has my contact details (duh!).
  • I love the copy in the footer stating, “Skin Modified By ArticleMS Skins,” as if that makes it ok to steal a design.

The funniest part of it all is I’ve also been receiving e-mails from potential customers of ArticleMS Skins, asking me where to send payment. Evidently, stealing my work hasn’t paid off very well for them.

Update #1: GoDaddy has finally suspended ArticleMS Skins until the site owner indicates they are ready to remove the infringing content.

Update #2: ArticleMS Skins is back online with a new design (hopefully, this one is original).