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How to Collect Online Evidence of Intellectual Property (IP) Theft

In a previous article, we discussed the importance of protecting your website content from intellectual property (IP) theft. By keeping a complete archive of your website—including all edits and deletions—it becomes much easier to prove that original content from your site has been stolen by another party.

But keeping accurate records of your own website content is only half the battle. Should you discover your IP on another site, you also need to capture this third-party evidence. Consider, for example, a leading fashion brand that finds an e-commerce store selling hundreds of fake versions of its clothes and accessories. How would the company capture all these images and descriptions of fake products for use during litigation? 

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The same goes for website copy, graphics, photos, drawings, and videos that have been stolen from your website. To keep offenders accountable, a crucial first step is collecting evidence of this IP infringement.

Are Screenshots the Answer?

How should you collect this evidence? An obvious answer is taking screenshots—and it is indeed a solution that many organizations resort to. However, screenshots have some problems and limitations that make them a less-than-ideal way to collect online evidence:

  • It’s time-consuming: Taking manual screenshots is a slow and frustrating process, especially when you’re dealing with a situation like that mentioned above where there are hundreds of product listings to capture.
  • It’s expensive: Giving someone the unenviable task of screenshotting an entire website is not only a slow and inefficient way to capture evidence, it’s also expensive. Screenshots might seem “free” but given the time that has to be dedicated to it, it actually has a massive opportunity cost attached to it. 
  • Screenshots lack context: Capturing even a single lengthy webpage can result in multiple screenshots that have to be stitched together to make sense. Multiply this by a few hundred webpages and you’re left with countless screenshots that lack context and give you no real understanding of how a website is structured or presented. Moreover, if the quality of the screenshots aren’t high enough, you also can’t zoom in to study the finer detail of a page. 
  • You can’t capture video: While you can screenshot a static image (or simply save it to your hard drive), capturing a video is far more difficult. If you’re lucky, you might be able to identify the platform that the video is being hosted on and find a tool that allows you to download it in a format like MP4 or be required to watch it to record it. But even in this best-case scenario, this is still slow and frustrating work.
  • Screenshot evidence is not defensible: Arguably the biggest limitation of a screenshot is that it simply won’t stand up in court. A screenshot lacks the hash values and metadata needed to prove the authenticity of a webpage copy. So should the original page be edited or deleted, it would be very difficult to prove that your screenshot accurately reflects what the content originally looked like.

Automated Capture of Authenticated Evidence

Thankfully, reliable cost-effective alternatives to screenshots exist. Pagefreezer’s own WebPreserver forensic preservation tool was designed to simplify online evidence capture by automating collections and providing defensible exports that can be used in court.

With WebPreserver you can: 

  • Collect website and social media evidence with two simple clicks
  • Use bulk-capture features to collect entire websites and social media accounts
  • Provide OCR PDF output for eDiscovery systems
  • Quickly collect and authenticate videos from websites, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Generate MHTML and WARC files to provide forensic ready evidence
  • Maintain complete control over chain of custody
  • Let WebPreserver automatically scroll through timelines and expand comments

You can also watch the video below to see WebPreserver in action:

 

For legal teams looking to collect online evidence of IP theft, WebPreserver can greatly cut down on the time and effort needed to gather this information. Instead of spending weeks or months taking screenshots, WebPreserver enables them to automate the collection process and capture entire websites or social media accounts with minimal effort. And unlike with screenshots, they’ll have access to authenticated records that will stand up in court.  

Want to learn more? Check out our page, The Essential Online Investigation Guide for Websites, Social Media, and Team Collaboration Tools. Or see WebPreserver in action by clicking the button below.

See How It Works

Peter Callaghan
Peter Callaghan
Peter Callaghan is the Chief Revenue Officer at Pagefreezer. He has a very successful record in the tech industry, bringing significant market share increases and exponential revenue growth to the companies he has served. Peter has a passion for building high-performance sales and marketing teams, developing value-based go-to-market strategies, and creating effective brand strategies.

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How to Collect Online Evidence of Intellectual Property (IP) Theft

In a previous article, we discussed the importance of protecting your website content from intellectual property (IP) theft. By keeping a complete archive of your website—including all edits and deletions—it becomes much easier to prove that original content from your site has been stolen by another party.