Share this content

Another local accountant has plagiarised my website - what would you do?

Another local accountant has plagiarised my...

Didn't find your answer?

As a favour to a mutual friend, last year I met up with someone who was thinking of starting up on their own and gave them some general tips and pointers.  The person in question is setting up 25 miles away and is probably not a direct threat although potentially could be.

They sent an email thanking me after the event, which was actually just wanting more information, and suggested meeting up again later in the year.  I did not pursue this as I felt it was a very one sided meeting and actually didn't particularly like the person.

Fast forward to this week and I had an email a couple of days ago suggesting we meet up again and 'catch up'.  I have put off replying as I'm not too keen.

So today, I saw the email in the inbox again and had another look, noting that a website had been set up.  So then having a quick look, I notice that it has many many similarities to mine.  The odd word has been changed but many of the marketing messages are identical, and some sentences are almost word for word.

I am rather peeved that I spent time being nice and it appears they have just copied half of my website! 

So, the question is, what to do?  They are registered under the same Institute as me although I wouldn't want to go that far.  But a) I am not keen to meet up and b) I would like them to get rid of the blatant plagiarism from their website.

Any tips?

Replies (32)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By stt
26th Feb 2014 13:56

why not

have a chat over the phone with them to let them know how you feel? He probably won't change their website, but at least he'll stop bothering you!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By 3569787
03rd May 2016 16:50

Send an invoice

.

Thanks (2)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
26th Feb 2014 14:26

I have had this several times as one of the pages on our site ranks very highly on a specific national search, and when it was launched it was used as an example site by a training company [not with my permission I should add] and shown to other accountants - who then nicked half the content.

In the first instance spoke to the person. This normally resulted in some rubbish lies such as "I didnt do it, the tea boy did" lots of denial of stealing then then when you press admission of guilt

And if they didn't agree to take it down I pointed them towards guidance on plagerism. 

Failing that a stiff letter, screen cap the site and ask for the removal of the specific pages with a threat to go to their institute. I have never actually done that, but the threat ought to work. 

It actively messes up your google rank too as google may think its the same site so its worth doing. 

There are various plagerism tools available to find sites who do this, and if you find the person is completely uncooperative (or you think they may have gone bust etc), if you forward a copy of your correspondence giving reasonable notice etc to their host (you may need your techy guy to help you find them) then you might get their whole site taken down by the host. 

One that did similar to your guy actually used the same web guy we do who is an ex-client, and ex-web guy now too. That had me fuming at the time. Oddly enough we actually now cross refer work heavily as he is a good accountant and we work in the same sector. 

 

Thanks (1)
Replying to psimonparsons:
avatar
By Gone Sailing
28th Feb 2014 19:11

Keep it moving

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

It actively messes up your google rank too as google may think its the same site so its worth doing. 

Excellent and good humoured thread.

However the above little nugget was not picked up on.  I had a long conversation with an SEO chap last night who specifically mentioned that identical copy will downgrade both websites, and that new copy was good.

The upshot I guess is to keep one's own updated, unless if you live near me, in which case keep yours static please :)

Thanks (0)
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
27th Feb 2014 06:06

Imitation is the Ultimate in Flattery!

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

I myself abhor plagiarism

Hey, Ireallyshouldknowthisbut sounds a little too much like I'msorryIhaven'taclue for my liking!

Where do I send the invoice?

Thanks (0)
Time for change
By Time for change
26th Feb 2014 14:39

Just love this idea

Due to the "mentoring" you did a year ago - I suggest you now send this person an invoice for your services and "original web content". Up to you what sum it is - say £750

Suggest that, when you "meet up" to "catch up" he can give you the cheque then?

Thanks (0)
Giraffe
By Luke
26th Feb 2014 15:37

Thanks all
I am going to get the other half to have a look tonight and confirm that I'm not imagining it, then will give the accountant a ring tomorrow.

Thanks (0)
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
26th Feb 2014 15:53

Send the boys round

Have you got any scaffolders as clients?

Thanks (0)
Giraffe
By Luke
26th Feb 2014 16:18

No scaffolders!
A few builders but no scaffolders!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Chris Maslin
26th Feb 2014 16:33

Re meeting them, I wouldn't feel remotely obliged to.  Just say you wish them well.

Re websites, I'd perhaps get someone impartial to look at both sites, see what they think. An old Maslins site was once accused of copying another website.  None of the text was the same, but apparently "the feel" was similar, they were both green (very different greens, but green) and we both had an article about sole trader vs Ltd Co (like that's unique)!

I didn't really know what to say, I'd never seen the website before, and to be honest I can imagine it was only arrogance that lead them to accuse me.  Obviously it was just my word against theirs and I'm 100% sure they wouldn't have had a legal leg to stand on.  I said I didn't copy it, they probably didn't believe me, but I never heard any more.

My point is, have they really "copied" you, or is it more that you both have accountancy websites, and neither of them are wacky?  If a lot of the text is identical, I'd ask them to change it...but even if they don't, your site will have been up for ages first, so from a Google perspective they'll never get very far.

I'd be a bit careful making accusations though, especially if it's more similarities rather than blatant plagiarism.

Thanks (0)
Woolpit Gus
By nutwood
26th Feb 2014 16:53

As a bit of fun I just looked at pwcuk website.  One of the pop-up features is for family businesses.  It uses the strapline "your business is our business".

I googled that phrase (as a whole) and lo and behold also on page one of google, there's Grant Thornton using the exact same thing!  Who copied whom you may ask, as may the authors of the other one and a half million returns.  I doubt any of them would have much success in proving themselves as the originator though.

As for 'plagerism' though that only gets 1.77 million results on google compared with 9.3 million for plagiarism.

Thanks (0)
Replying to FirstTab:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
27th Feb 2014 06:16

An Offer You Cannot Refuse?

nutwood wrote:

As a bit of fun I just looked at pwcuk website.  One of the pop-up features is for family businesses.  It uses the strapline "your business is our business".

I googled that phrase (as a whole) and lo and behold also on page one of google, there's Grant Thornton using the exact same thing! 

"Our business is your business".....first time I saw that strapline was on a logistics van tearing past me in the fast lane. I think it was a Ford Transit.

I don't much like the inverse "Your business is our business". Sounds too much like Don Corleone's strapline.

Thanks (0)
Giraffe
By Luke
26th Feb 2014 17:29

Thanks for the spelling lesson nutwood!

I have edited my posts to correct!

I am fairly sure it is copied from my website with the odd word changed but do plan on getting my other half to look tonight for a more impartial view.  I know they looked at my website for inspiration, they just clearly don't have too much imagination to change it as several sentences are identical.  It is at least a different colour though!

I don't plan on accusing but more mentioning that their website is very good but has a few too many similarities to mine for my liking.  I will let you know what happens.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Kevin_McCallum:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
27th Feb 2014 08:19

We'll be the Judge of That!

Luke wrote:

I am fairly sure it is copied from my website with the odd word changed but do plan on getting my other half to look tonight for a more impartial view.

Luke, how about letting us, the panel, decide?

Website addresses, please....

Thanks (3)
Replying to johngroganjga:
avatar
By JoeOBrien1983
28th Feb 2014 15:23

Absolutely.

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

Luke wrote:

I am fairly sure it is copied from my website with the odd word changed but do plan on getting my other half to look tonight for a more impartial view.

Luke, how about letting us, the panel, decide?

Website addresses, please....

 

I agree with this! It has been a considerable time since I enjoyed a game of 'spot the difference'.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By andrew.hyde
28th Feb 2014 12:37

Copyright vs Trademark

It's quite a common error to assume that copying a phrase like 'Our business is your business' is copyright infringement.  It ain't necessarily so.

It's good manners to acknowledge a quote (such as the Ira Gershwin lyric I just used), but this is not substantial enough to be copyrightable.  If I used the whole lyric, that might well be a copyright infringement.

Where you have a short phrase that you want to protect, you can sometimes register it as a trade mark as long as it is distinctive ie not an everyday phrase (you could not register 'How do you do' for example).  A couple of examples that the European Court of Justice has approved are

'Vorsprung durch Technik'

'Have a break, have a [well-known chocolate biscuit]'

Even if it's a trade mark, that doesn't stop you quoting it. It does stop you infringing it eg using it out of context to promote your own product or service.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By JDBENJAMIN
28th Feb 2014 13:12

This happened to me about 10 years ago. The culprit was.....

...an unqualified accountant who copied my website almost word for word. He has long disappeared. I just laughed it off, as I doubt whether I lost a penny of business as a result of the plagiarism.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By David Winch
28th Feb 2014 14:08

Just A Geeky Thought

Has the offending practice copied your code or just mimicked the appearance of your pages and copied the wording?  Do the links on their pages point to other pages on their site or on yours?

If you don't know already, you can see the code of a page by right clicking and then clicking on "View page source" or equivalent.

I've no idea whether this makes any difference in terms of breaching copyright.  It's just idle curiosity.

Thanks (1)
7om
By Tom 7000
28th Feb 2014 14:52

Hmmmm

You can copy mine if you want....I get heaps of clients out of it

I have reviewed about 20 competitors mines easily the best

I wouldnt worry too much about the website no one looks at them anyway....really..other than other accountants

Its all about the traffic you drive to the site, not the site

 

But then...hey...what do I know :)

 

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tonyarm
28th Feb 2014 15:46

Tom7000

What's your web address then?

Thanks (0)
7om
By Tom 7000
28th Feb 2014 16:02

web address

www.ttca.co.uk :)

 

I mnearly put PWC.com...for the jest... but then thought the ICAEW would want a word in my ear for passing off

 

Any pointers on improvements duly considered and implemented :)

Thanks (0)
Replying to Cloudcounter:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
28th Feb 2014 19:40

Old Chestnuts and Evergreens!

Tom 7000 wrote:

www.ttca.co.uk :)

Any pointers on improvements duly considered and implemented :)

 

Pointer 1: The photo caption

Treetops staff in new tax deductable jackets! :(

Treetops' staff in new tax deductible jackets!  :)

 

Pointer 2: the strapline

"Nurturing you and your business from acorn to mighty oak"

Aren't those fir trees in your logo, Tom?

Thanks (0)
Giraffe
By Luke
28th Feb 2014 16:12

Thanks all
I had another accountant that I trust look through the two sites. Their conclusion was that it was similar to mine, probably based on mine but not copied. They also thought mine was better, which could have just been flattery!!

So, I sent an email declining meeting up but wishing the other accountant well and made no mention of the website. At least it is cleared from my mind and I will not feel coerced into any further tip sharing with that particular person.

Thanks all again for your comments, they helped me clarify the situation and hopefully put a stop to a future relationship I would likely have resented.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Old Greying Accountant
28th Feb 2014 17:38

Question is ...

... where did you get your website inspiration from!

Thanks (0)
Replying to Michael C Feltham:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
28th Feb 2014 19:47

Uninspired

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

... where did you get your website inspiration from!

Websmiths, with their crappy over-promise to our clients of "free unlimited access" to our services that came as standard with their sites.

I now have an alternative blurb: "Any accountant who doesn't know enough to charge something for his services doesn't know enough to be a help to your business!"

Thanks (0)
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
28th Feb 2014 19:24

We'd All Like a Luke...

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

Luke wrote:

I am fairly sure it is copied from my website with the odd word changed but do plan on getting my other half to look tonight for a more impartial view.

Luke, how about letting us, the panel, decide?

Website addresses, please....


Luke wrote:

I had another accountant that I trust look through the two sites.

Awwwww no! Aren't you going to let us look too, Luke?

Am I going to have to stalk it out of you?

Thanks (0)
Replying to Michael C Feltham:
Giraffe
By Luke
28th Feb 2014 19:57

My inspiration came from attending web design and marketing courses. These made me want to focus on viewing the website from the point of view of potential clients and the appropriate 'call to action' rather than just listing what I do, which is what my previous website did.

I spent a good few days a year or so ago writing the whole thing from scratch myself, not revamping the old website but starting totally from the beginning again. By that stage my practice was a few years old and I had a 'feel' I wanted to get across. I then tested the website on some current clients and accountant friends in addition to the usual friends and family, and took feedback on board.

The amount of personal involvement is probably why I am so protective of it.

I'msorryihaven'taclue - please don't bother to stalk me, it's not that exciting! I would rather not give out the website address.

Thanks (1)
Replying to WhichTyler:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
28th Feb 2014 21:09

Understood...Giraffes are Naturally Shy Animals

Luke wrote:
The amount of personal involvement is probably why I am so protective of it. I'msorryihaven'taclue - please don't bother to stalk me, it's not that exciting! I would rather not give out the website address.

No problemo, Luke. Understood.

Come to think of it, if you had given it an outing on Aweb then you'd invite even more copy-catting.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By KWest
02nd Mar 2014 14:39

Plagiarism

There are sites that will detect text plagiarism and if it is substantial that can be reported to Google who might then act to block the plagiarised content. There is also an excellent site, which I think may be a part of Google - http://www.tineye.com that will quickly identify copied graphics and the sites that are carrying them.

Thanks (0)
7om
By Tom 7000
03rd Mar 2014 12:25

Deduct (a) i ble

 

Whilst I was top of Class A in Maths...

I was only half way down class B for English...

My thanks for spotting that...

I was also at the bottom of Class C for Biology...I like pine trees though it reminds me of the Alps

 

I O U a beer :)

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By drrnb
03rd Mar 2014 21:45

Helpful tools

To keep an eye out for future plagiarism try the following:

http://www.copyscape.com/ - content

http://www.imageraider.com/ - image

Thanks (1)
Share this content