Website Cloning – A Business Reality with Complex Legal Ramifications

Website cloning is the process of creating a replica of your existing website design or the content to create a new website with ease. Website cloning lets developers and designers create blueprints, test compatibility and perform updates safely before implementing the changes on your live website. Anything that enjoys copyright protection, whether it is rendered in ink or pixels, may not be copied or published elsewhere without the prior approval of the author. The information need not have a copyright notice or symbol associated with it to be copyrighted, since the copyright protection arises as soon as the author creates an original work and fixes it in a tangible medium. The contents of a website are no different than the contents of a book or magazine in terms of the copyright protection, even though web content is often seen as more disposable than works existing in a physical medium. Also, any non-digital content that is protected by the copyright law is automatically protected in its digital form as well. For example, a copyrighted novel published as a paperback will receive the same protection when it is published as an e-book. In addition to the online content, databases (both electronic and paper files) also enjoy copyright protection as long as they show a certain degree of creativity by the author such as in its organization or selection. The newest and most effective marketing tool for business exists nowadays in the digital world. Whereas a good and attractive website has all the pre-requisites to have a strong impact on the market share and positioning of a firm, it has the drawback of exposing important and not always protected content o infringements. 


Copyright Law And Web Content

It is prohibited to copy or publish anything that is covered by copyright protection, whether it is created in ink or pixels, without the express (usually written) consent of the author. Since copyright protection occurs as soon as an author creates an original work and fixes it in a tangible medium, the information does not need to have a copyright notice or symbol connected with it in order to be copyrighted. Even though digital content is frequently seen to be more “disposable” than works that exist in a physical medium, copyright protection does not differ between the contents of a website and those of a book or magazine.

Additionally, any non-digital work that is shielded by copyright legislation is also shielded when it is converted into a digital format. For instance, an e-book version of a paperback work with copyright protection will be given the same level of protection. Along with online material, databases (both electronic and physical files) are likewise protected by copyright as long as the author used some innovation in their organization or selection.


Legal Copyright and Fair Use

Small portions of works protected by copyright may be used “fairly” without the author’s consent. It is more likely to be considered fair use if the replication is done for academic study, news reporting, teaching, or research as opposed to if it is done for profit. However, because they frequently hinge on a variety of circumstance-specific factors, it is challenging to make this judgment in advance. A book reviewer paraphrasing a few passages from a book in an online book review is an example of fair use.

Technically speaking, copying a website’s client-side code is as simple as saving files. Instead, unless it is an open-source application, the server-side code, which is frequently the largest component of a website’s inner workings, is typically not accessible to the general public.


The Legal Perspective of A Website Owner to Secure the Ownership of A Web Design

Legally, the person or the organization that owns the website’s code and layout also own its copyright, unless otherwise stated. Copyright is a “natural right” that is provided to authors; they are the ones who can choose who is allowed to access, copy, distribute, change, and make their work available. Copyright does not require registration. This means that generally speaking, you cannot publish an online copy without first receiving permission from the copyright holder. Although copyright laws vary from nation to nation, their fundamental concepts are now practically universally applied.

Sometimes, the copyright owners will attach a license specifying what can and cannot be done without getting in touch with them in order to allow others to use, reproduce, or create derivative works from a work protected by copyright. The many open-source license types offer options to control and approve specific uses of copyrighted content without incurring fees or signing contracts. In any situation, it is still customarily required to give due acknowledgement to the creators of the original works.

In the business world, we have seen many cases of clients whose websites have been cloned and used by various perpetrators, in bad faith, in order to impersonate partnerships or ties with the victim, mostly for getting credibility and finally receiving money or other advantages from the market.

Given that many web design tools use open-source data, the process of webpage cloning appears to be ongoing. Of course, the immediately available recovery tools are the technical ones, by these understanding complaints to the registrar of the clone website or enhanced website security, host tracing (if possible) or even requests to Google for content delisting on the grounds of copyright concerns (known as Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaints).

Usually, If the host of the website cloning is identifiable, a victim of a website cloning may file a complaint on the grounds of cyber legislation infringement, which would have a criminal component as well as a civil element, for damages recovery. These days, the digital realm is where businesses may find the newest and most powerful marketing tools. A decent and appealing website can have a significant impact on a company’s market share and placement, but it also runs the risk of exposing sensitive and occasionally unprotected content to infringements.

Website cloning, often known as replicating a website or its design and related parts, is the practice of making a duplicate of an already-existing website. The method has delicate connected legal issues, even if the clone’s beneficiary would not need to have the scripts rewritten and would benefit from a “ready-made” marketing product.

In the business world, we have seen numerous instances of clients whose websites have been copied and exploited maliciously by different offenders to pretend to be partnerships or ties with the victim, typically in order to gain credibility and ultimately profit from the market.

Knowing that many website design tools use open-source information, the practice of duplicating websites continues. The only recovery methods that are instantly available are technical ones, therefore complaints to the clone website’s registrar, improved website security, host tracing (if possible), or even requests to Google for content delisting due to copyright concerns are all examples of immediate recovery tools (known as Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaints).

Since cloned websites can be used anywhere and can be copied from anywhere in the globe, website cloning typically involves crossing international borders. Depending on the various laws in place, a victim of website cloning may file a complaint alleging violation of cyberlaw, which may include both a criminal and a civil component for the recovery of damages, if the host of the website cloning is known.

In addition to using the regulatory tools at their disposal, website owners who may become cloning victims should be advised to take proactive measures to stop the practice as much as possible and improve their prospects of winning a legal case against the offenders.


The Benefit of Protecting the Website

Legally, it is essential for a website owner to establish ownership over the designs and intellectual property (IP) connected with a website’s construction by a web developer or an employee. Afferent contractual provisions should exist to prevent cases and situations where the law is not harmonized or is silent on the subject, despite the fact that in heavily regulated markets (like the EU) the general approach is that the website-associated IP produced by an employee while working for a company is vested in the company. A contract with a web developer should also clearly state the latter’s scope of work, the fact that the website’s owner owns all associated intellectual property rights, non-disclosure clauses, and, most importantly, warranties from the web developer, who inherently served as a subcontractor in developing the aforementioned website.

Additionally, a website typically has IP data that could be legally protected. Several examples in this regard include:

The constant attentiveness and best practices in website administration are additional forms of protection that are advantageous to website owners. It’s also a good idea to include terms and conditions on websites or disclaimers that explain the website owner’s ownership rights over the various materials contained therein as well as third parties’ rights to access and use those elements. Knowing that linking to publicly accessible websites typically does not require prior consent of the website owner, we would also include deep linking and meta-tags used for search engine optimization. Such metrics are thought to elaborate and quantify a beneficial claim for a website owner in the event of, say, a copyright infringement action, from a purely legal standpoint.

Last but not least, a website owner should have backup plans in place in case of a data breach or any other form of violation caused by someone using their website fraudulently. The major advice for website owners is to make sure that sensitive data (such as names, credit card numbers, and financial information) is not kept on servers. A website owner can avoid lawsuits from clients and website visitors related to data processing by doing this in addition to ensuring compliance with the rising data protection laws around the world.


Regulation on Information Assurance in the UAE

The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority created the “UAE Information Assurance Regulation” to provide requirements to raise the minimum level of protection of information assets and supporting systems across all entities in the UAE (United Arab Emirates). This was done in response to the rapidly evolving cyber threats, including hacktivists and organized cybercrime groups that challenge national security and compromise critical information assets. The rule aims to create a trustworthy digital ecosystem across the UAE.

In order to establish, implement, maintain, and constantly improve information assurance, entities can use management and technical information security measures provided by the IA (information assurance) Regulation. To implement the IA Regulation and apply its requirements to the use, processing, storage, and transfer of information or data, as well as the systems and procedures used for those purposes, TDRA will designate the critical entities in accordance with the UAE CIIP Policy. Information that may be owned, leased, or otherwise in the possession, custody, or control of the companies comprises data in physical or electronic form.


Case Law: Unauthorized copying of another website’s content infringes copyright, says European court

In a school project, a student from Germany utilized a picture that she found on a travel website. The project was subsequently posted on the school’s website. Due to the absence of his contact information on the original travel website, the photographer who took the shot had not given the school permission to use it in this manner. When the photographer saw that his image was posted on the school website, he filed a copyright violation claim.

According to EU law, copyright infringement only occurs when a “work” in this case, the photographic “made available to the public.” However, this term’s meaning is not defined by law. The school contended that because the content was publicly accessible online via the travel website, it had already been made available to the public and that posting it again on another website did not constitute an infringement. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) was contacted by German courts for clarification on the matter:

“Does the inclusion of a work on a person’s own publicly accessible website that is freely accessible to all internet users on a third-party website with the consent of the copyright holder constitute a making available of that work to the public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of [Directive 2001/29] if the work is first copied onto a server and is uploaded from there to that person’s website?”

In its preliminary opinion, the Advocate General of the CJEU stated that the image had already been shared with the public because it was on the travel website with the photographer’s permission, “available without technical constraints,” and did not bear a copyright notice there. Internet users had a right to believe that the photographer had given his or her permission for others to copy and use the image on their own websites as well.

Normally, the CJEU adheres to the Advocate General’s recommendation, but not in this instance. Inclusion of the work on the school website, according to the CJEU, amounted to making it accessible to a new and distinct public from that of the travel website. It amounted to a violation of the photographer’s copyright in the image because there had been a new disclosure to the public. The CJEU did add, however, that merely linking to an image or other piece of content on another website would not have qualified as a communication to the public for these purposes, thus providing a reprieve for webmasters.



In conclusion, website owners should take the necessary legal advice from the best Intellectual property lawyers to protect their reputation and standing, knowing that infringements can have a generational impact on a business, from reputational damage to more serious legal consequences, such as claims. This is especially true as long as marketing activities are closely connected to the digital world.