Finding unauthorized copies of your own work being represented by another person as their own can be a very upsetting and maddening experience. Unfortunately in this digital day and age where more and more is available on the internet, it is practically inevitable that it will happen. Understanding that and educating yourself on your options will make you better prepared to handle it if and when it does happen to you.
Your first move if you find your work has been pirated largely should be to confront the individual who has stolen your content. Keep records of your correspondence and any response that you receive in case you should need to take legal action further down the road. Make it clear to the offender that they have infringed upon your copyright and that you’d like them to stop immediately. Explain that the use of copyrighted material without permission is against the law. Give them the opportunity to explain themselves and to rectify the situation. Some people may not even be aware that they did anything wrong and when confronted will apologize profusely.
The response from the offender may be negative or it may never come. Either way, while you are waiting, start compiling your evidence in the event that you might need it. Gather all of your information to identify the source of the theft. Save it on your computer and create hard copies as well. Include all of your efforts to contact the source in this file along with any response you receive.
If you do not receive a response from the offender, you may decide to take legal action. Before doing this, make sure that you can establish copyright of the material. Having it registered with the US Copyright office is the only way that you can be entitled to monetary damages. Contact an attorney and decide how to move forward. If you have registered with the Copyright Office, and you win your case, you are entitled to reimbursement for your legal fees as well as any damages you may be awarded.
Wikipedia – Copyright infringement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement
Ralph F. Wilson. Wilson Internet Services. Please Don’t Violate my Copyright. http://www.wilsonweb.com/copyright/violation.htm
Art Business.com. Art Copyright Infringement and Your Creative Health. http://www.artbusiness.com/copfringe.html
Brad Templeton. 10 Big Myths about copyright explained. http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html
Lorelle VanFossen. What do you do when someone steals your content. http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/04/10/what-do-you-do-when-someone-steals-your-content/
U.S. Copyright Office. Stopping Copyright Infringement. http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-infringement.html