When you find success in business, people can (and will) try to rip you off. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world with no ethics. They think the only way to succeed is to capitalize on others hard work.
In this episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast, you’ll learn how to shut them down, and how to get their money. Plus, how to avoid being ripped off in the future
Hello everybody, Anton Kraly here, and welcome to another episode of E-Commerce Lifestyle. As always, anything I mention throughout this episode, like links, like videos, I will have them all posted up on ECommerceLifestyle.com, so feel free to hop over there if you want to get more deep into the conversation we are about to have. Or if you just want to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on it.
So today, what I wanted to talk about was originally going to be business ethics advice at a little big higher level, but then I thought more about what I wanted to share with you, and I thought a better topic would be what to do when someone rips you off. And what I mean by that is what to do when someone copies you, right? When someone steals your work.
A little backstory as to why I’m bringing this up and as to why I wanted to get this message out today. You may or may not be aware that at one of my companies, Drop Ship Lifestyle, which is an eCommerce education company, we have a coaching program.
And the way the coaching program works is we have a team of coaches that are all members of Drop Ship Lifestyle that have been successful with the system. They’re proven to be able to help people and to kind of share, just feedback, one on one, with newer members that are going through Drop Ship Lifestyle.
Basically someone enrolls in Drop Ship Lifestyle, they’re going through, let’s just say supplier research, maybe they get stuck at a certain point throughout my training videos, and if that happens, they can book a call with the coach, they can get on Skype for 30 minutes, they can do a screen share if they need actual live help.
They can just get unstuck and keep moving forward on their journey to building a highly profitable, semi-automated, drop ship store. So that’s just to put this in context.
Last week, I think it was, maybe right before the weekend, we have a slack channel for basically all of our companies, and one of our channels is for the coaches. And one of the coaches, who is a great guy, someone that I connected with in person a bunch of times, helped a bunch of students through our coaching program.
He made a comment and said that someone had just scheduled a call with him, and when he scheduled this call, he posted the URL to his store so that the coach could kind of go through it, take a look at it, and get prepared for the call, and he realized, the coach realized, that this student’s store was an exact clone of the coach’s store.
So I don’t think obviously that the student knew that he was booking a call with the owner of the store he ripped off, or his VA, or whoever built the store for him ripped off, but the coach posted in the slack channel.
He was like, “Hey everyone. What do you think I should do here? This store is literally a rip-off.” So that’s what I wanted to discuss here, and since it has been resolved, it seems like it was kind of a misunderstanding, but the student, or the person, that had copied the store has since removed everything that was plagiarized and everything’s fine.
Which is obviously the outcome you’re always looking for, but this is kind of something that, when you’re in business, you’re going to experience. So that’s what I want to talk about. What to do when this happens to you because if you’re in business long enough, it probably will.
Before I get deep into that, I wanted to share what I constitute, or what I think really is being ripped off. I’ll give you a couple of examples. One would be if you’re just selling, I don’t know, I’m looking at my computer monitor stand right now.
If you’re selling computer monitor stands and someone else builds a computer monitor stand store, that’s a tongue twister, and it has the same color scheme as yours and sells for the same suppliers as yours, that’s not a rip-off. That’s competition.
That’s something that you have to deal with, it’s something you have to do better than your competitors, but that’s business. That’s not being ripped off.
What’s being ripped off, and what happened in the situation I was just referring to, is that literally unique product descriptions that the coach that works with us has written for himself were copied and pasted, unique content pages were copied and pasted, unique graphics, and images, and icons were copied and pasted.
This unique work, right? Not just someone else … he doesn’t sell this, but it’s not like he had a pet store and someone else opened a pet store. It’s like this person took all these unique images and words and copy, and put them on their website, and that obviously is being ripped off.
So what do you do when this happens to you? Well the first thing that you should always do is just reach out to this website that’s copying you. And you can do that if you know who it is, you can contact them directly, maybe on Facebook.
If you don’t know who it is, just look for the email address on their website or a contact form and that’s step one. And what we do during the step one process is basically just reach out to them with a firm message saying, “Listen, someone directed us to your website. We noticed that you’re using lots of our unique and copyrighted content and imagery. Please respond to this email. It has to be removed within,” usually, we say within 24-48 hours, “Or else we’ll be filing a DMCA to have your website removed and to have all the content removed.”
That’s the first step, just reaching out to let them know that we know what they’re doing and to give them the opportunity to actually take it down. Now when we do this, we say, “You have 24-48 hours.” But simultaneously, what we’ll do is actually file one of these DMCAs. DMCA stands for … let me see. Make sure I get it right.
I’m pretty sure it’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and basically what that is is a way for when you get plagiarized online for you to reach out to different web hosts and have them remove stuff for you. Because listen, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of very, very shady people out there.
If you do go with that first option I mentioned, which is filling out their contact form on their website or emailing them, they might just be someone who just doesn’t care and they’re just going to ignore you, and that happens all the time.
And if that happened, then normally what you would have to do, if you really wanted it down, is find a lawyer and sue this person and go through this whole process. But again, the good news is you don’t have to do that.
What you should do and what we do is you contact the other person’s web host, internet service provider, so in the scenario I’m referring to in this episode, it was a Shopify store, so if you go on Google and just type in “Shopify DMCA”, I’ll post a link below this episode also to that, all you have to do is go to the website’s URL on Shopify and then it asks for the website that’s copying you, so you copy and paste the URL.
It asks for your website, so you copy and paste the URL. It asks what’s being copied, so you just fill that in in a little contact form and you submit it. And what’s good is with Shopify, if you are being copied. Again, not just someone selling in the same industry as you, but someone literally stealing your work, whether that be unique words or unique images, then they will remove those pages from the website.
Usually, that takes 24 hours or so. It depends how busy they are I guess. That’s how you do it with Shopify. Now you might find that the website that’s copying you and that’s stealing your content is hosted somewhere else.
Maybe they’re a WordPress site that’s using Host Gater. And if that’s the case, you would go on Google and type in “Host Gater DMCA“. You would go to that website or that URL on there on their website, and again, fill out the URLS for the people that are copying you, the URLs of your website, and then just fill in the little description box of what’s being copied from you, and again, they’ll take it down.
All of these companies, the hosts, they’re the ethical companies, so the Shopifys, the Host Gaters, the Liquid Webs, all these companies, and even, this goes further.
If someone is stealing your emails, which we’ve had happen to us, like people are copying, pasting our emails that we have written for our email lists, and they’re sending them to their email lists. And when that happens, you can file DMCAs with their email hosting providers.
So maybe they’re emailing through Infusionsoft or Klaviyo, or they’re using whatever. Anything. Mail Chimp. You could file DMCAs with them and then they’ll shut down those peoples’ accounts.
So it’s not a fun part of business by any means when you have to do this stuff, but I do want you to know that, again, if you’re in business long enough and if you’re successful, this will happen to you because again, there’s a lot of sick people out there that think all they have to do is copy someone’s hard work to be successful.
I’m not going to get into it in detail, but I’ve had people that have been doing this pretty aggressively for the past year or so, and it’s not fun because you have to file DMCAs all the time because if they copy.
Let’s just say, your unique emails for example and they’re using Infusionsoft, then you can file the DMCA with Infusionsoft and that account will get shut down, but then if they start using, whatever, Mail Chimp. Then Mail Chimp is not going to know that this person is a scammer and then you have to wait and file a DMCA with them.
Then they’ll take it down. And then they might sign up with ConvertKit, which is another email system. Then you have to file a DMCA with them and so on, and so on.
So again, it’s not fun and it’s not something you’re going to have to deal with until you’re successful, but once you get to a point where you’re making really good revenue and profit, people will think that they can just copy you.
I apologize also if I’m throwing around too many software names and it’s over everyone’s head, but the general theme remains the same. When you get copied, don’t think that you just have to go out and sue the person that’s copying you.
You can just go through the companies that they’re using to power their business, and the companies that they’re using to power their business will take down the infringed upon content.
The only other thing I’ll say regarding should you sue the people that are copying you or not, that’s an interesting thing and it’s something that you can do and you actually can get a lot of money for.
I’m not going to give you examples of this in my 7 figure business, but this is something we’re actually going through, where people have stolen a lot of stuff from us, like literally straight up just stolen tons of our unique content, and it’s all documented, videos going on for over a year showing everything that’s been stolen, that continues to be stolen.
And what you can do when you have this kind of evidence and this kind of proof. If you know that person is making money through the content that they’re stealing from you, so again, if they’re stealing your whole website design, if they’re stealing your emails, if they’re stealing your business, what you can do is actually sue them and take the money that they made.
That is not a fun process. You do have to go to court, you do need lawyers, it’s going to take time, but listen, if someone’s stealing your stuff and they think they can just get away with it, and if you’re filing DMCAs and they’re just ripping you off on the next host, and the next host, and the next host, then guess what?
They’re going to have a pretty bad day in court because no judge will ever side with them, and you’re going to be entitled to all of the money they ever made by selling the infringed upon content. And what’s actually good about that is you get their top line revenue, not their net profit.
So it sucks for them because they’re going to be in a hole for probably forever, but guess what? That’s what happens when you think you can do business by straight up ripping people off and thinking that, for some reason, you deserve it and that you can get away with it.
Not something that’s going to be applicable to most people listening to this right now, but that’s the route you’ll have to go if someone just won’t quit, and yeah. You take them to court and you take everything.
So I wanted to share that method also. Another thing that I wanted to share with what to do when someone copies you, and maybe you’re running a drop shipping store, you’ve been up for a while, you’re making $30,000, $50,000, $60,000 a month in sales, and someone comes in and does rip you off and they …
Maybe you email them through your contact form and they don’t respond and they don’t change their website. Then maybe you file a DMCA, and let’s just say Shopify takes their site down, but then let’s say a month later, it pops back up and they’re just trying it again maybe under a different Shopify account or store name.
If you find it to be a recurring theme like that, then what you’re going to want to do is reach out to the suppliers that you have relationships with and just let them know that this new website, this URL, they are not just a competitor of yours, but they’re involved in some very shady business tactics, which is just straight up stealing.
If you, again, have a relationship with your suppliers and if someone is being persistent, and again, they think they’re above the law and above all ethics where they can just keep trying to copy you, then you should definitely contact your suppliers because guess what?
No suppliers, just like no software companies want to work with people who have no ethics, and they won’t approve them for accounts. They just won’t allow them to sell their product.
So as long as you’re doing business on the up and up, as long as you have ethics, and morals, and you treat people right, people will still try to rip you off every day, but the good news is, you will win in the longterm because even though it takes work to file these DMCAs and to have to sometimes contact your suppliers about it and to sue people.
At the end of the day, if your business, again, is the one that’s legitimate, you will have the other person shut down, and if they make any money from the work that you did, you will get all of that money and you’ll be entitled to it.
The law is definitely on your side, and these losers who have no ethics never, never, never win in the long run. They can get short term gains. They can have even maybe a year or so where they get hot and they have marketing experience and they just rip you off, and maybe it takes that long for the legal process, but again, at the end of the day, you’ll just get the benefits from all that stolen work that they took from you.
Finally, one thing I guess to close this out with is, I want to let people know, this probably sounds like a negative episode overall. I’m just talking about the amount of extra work that goes into running a successful business that has to deal with, again, these sociopaths that will rip you off.
I do want to say, listen, this is part of the reason that with any big communities online, for example, one of our private Facebook communities, the biggest one, has over 6,000 people in it right now, and this is one of the reasons why I always encourage people to share.
I always encourage people to share things like a new traffic source they used or whatever promotions they’re running. Just things that can provide value to the community, but at the same time, it’s one of the reasons why I tell people, don’t just talk about your store.
Don’t post links to your store because, for example, online, this one group, customer group we have, there’s over 6,000 people in it, and to think that all of those people are good, upstanding, ethical people.
Obviously I wish I could say they were, but I don’t know who they are. I don’t know them. And guess what? If you go out to a bar and there’s 50 people there, just think about … 50 random people in a bar, there’s probably going to be one or two assholes in there, right?
That start fights with people, that are out of control, that just aren’t on the same page as everyone else. So think about if that happens in a group of 50 or so people, what you’re going to get in a group of 6,000, and they might not be vocal, they might not be out there just talking about how shady they are because they’re not.
They’re going to be there in the background kind of creeping around, looking for things that they think they can capitalize on. So again, I wish it wasn’t a reality of business.
With that in mind, just keep what you’re doing and the specifics of your actual products I would say, not to yourself, but to your inner circle, your masterminds, the small group of people that maybe you talk business with that you trust, and for everyone else, feel free.
I talk about what we’re doing in business because I think it helps everyone, so I’d encourage you to do the same, like in our Facebook group and on our forum and comments on this post with what you’re doing if you think it will help anybody.
If anyone does still rip you off even without knowing who you are, just know that you have recourse and as long as you follow through with it, justice always is served and you’ll always win.
So hope you guys found this one useful. If you did, definitely let me know. I’m trying to keep the conversation going on over at ECommerceLifestyle.com, so just go to eCommercelifestyle.com, click on episodes and then go ahead and look for this one. It’s going to be called “What To Do When Someone Rips You Off“. So hop over to ECommerceLifestyle.com and I will see you then. Thank you everybody.
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