Theft of Internet Property Reaching Epidemic Proportions

By Paul Pannone

Complaints about thievery, scams and dishonest behavior are on the increase since eWedNewz talked about a Hall of Shame that would feature the most blatant, despicable acts in the wedding business. Among the biggest concerns is the copying of dress designs and other intellectual property like artwork, writings and creative ideas.

According to Interparty.org

The internet has created a serious issue in regards to intellectual property rights and the protection of those rights. Prior to the broad usage of the internet and availability of free software, it was much more difficult to steal another’s works. Indeed, people copied albums onto cassette tapes, and others plagiarized books in order to garner better grades at school, but the incidences were not as widespread, and not necessarily for profit. Today, however, “stealing” has become mainstream.

 

So what makes one material ripoff different from the ones on the internet?

 

According to experts the Internet is still the wild west and though theft, plagiarism, etc, are  illegal the countless acts committed each day are immeasurable and unenforceable. If that’s the case, does it make it mainstream?

eWedNewz is reviewing some of the complaints from anonymous tipsters providing what they feel is proper documentation, citing facts substantiated with link-backs to information.

Discussions with wedding experts in the Wedding Water Cooler say some of the highest concentration of thievery is among photographers that blatantly steal the works of competitors and claim them for their own. According to WWC members photographers are the first ones to lay claims to music and other creative property but scream the loudest when their rights are violated.

In one particular case not only are images taken; but an entire website idea. According to one anonymous source SnapKnot is accused of ripping off Sortfolio.

“Having recently done a side-by-side comparison of http://snapknot.com with the better known http://sortfolio.com from 37signals, I decided the similarities were too many to ignore. I contacted 37signals (the creators of the most popular online collaboration software in the world) and they thanked me and confirmed that SnapKnot had directly copied the design and functionality of their web property.” said our source.

The source informs us that another highly publicized ripoff  resulted in the admission of guilt, an apology and advice against online ripoff of intellectual property.

“I thought you may want to cover this story since it directly affects the wedding industry. Many wedding photographers are fighting copyright infringement on a daily basis. SnapKnot.com, who is marketed exclusively to wedding photographers, has copied and ripped off most of their website’s design and features. And it looks like they are trying to cover their tracks. If you look at the Wayback Machine, less than a year ago their site looked nearly identical to Sortfolio.com,” according to the same source.

We showed the information to web experts that said the following:

“The look and layout are indeed similar. It will come back to whether they were inspired by or directly copied the code. Those are heavy sites with a ton of coding behind the scenes. If it’s true, photographers should flee in droves. What a stupid effing mistake! The photography community is the obsessed with copying. Not just stealing copyrighted images but stealing poses and backgrounds they used.”

The web expert opinion was echoed by other members of the fashion industry:

“It would be interesting and important to hear what Sortfolio/37signals has to say about its settlement with SnapKnot a year ago when the sites looked virtually identical.   Whatever the settlement may have been between, it didn’t bother SnapKnot enough to convince them that they shouldn’t continue to steal from 37signals.

Several people are caught in a very similar situation within the bridal industry.  I’m not sure how all of this dovetails with recent efforts to legislate intellectual property on the internet.  In fact, I’m not even sure of the status of the legislation since so many people campaigned against it.   Apparently, it’s still in limbo.”

According to sources in publishing, it’s an all or nothing deal.

“In print, copyright infringement is a huge issue.  No company can selectively enforce a copyright.  You MUST enforce EVERY challenge to your copyright.  If the copyright holder intentionally allows anyone to violate the copyright, subsequent legal arguments to enforce the copyright will be rejected.”

eWedNewz reached out to SnapKnot and Sortfolio for a statement. No response from either side was heard at the time this story became public.

What do you think?

eWedNewz

All Rights Reserved

2012