Pagejacking a new phenomenon

The incidence of page-jacking is an increasing problem overseas, but a New Zealand law firm advises that the law here should be sufficient to protect Kiwi businesses.

The incidence of page-jacking is an increasing problem overseas, but a New Zealand law firm advises that the law here should be sufficient to protect Kiwi businesses.

There have been several cases in New Zealand of companies including their competitor's trademarks in the metatags on their websites, but now the stakes have been raised with what's called "page-jacking", says Ken Moon, partner at intellectual property law firm AJ Park.

"They've moved on from just including the trademark to including entire blocks of text from the other website to lure searchers over," says Moon.

Moon is referring to a US case where the owners of www.women.com are alleged to have taken content from an astrology site and pasted it into the site's HTML coding to fool search engines into giving www.women.com a higher ranking than it otherwise would.

That case hinges on whether text that cannot be read can be said to be in breach of copyright, however Moon says here in New Zealand our law makes it quite clear.

"Copying is defined as including storage in any medium and they've ended up with it on the hard drive of their server and therefore a copy has been made without authority."

Moon says the New Zealand Copyright Act was introduced in 1994 which means it is relatively new and quite up to the task of dealing with this kind of issue. The Ministry of Economic Development has released a discussion paper on possible changes to the act, which Moon is glad to see, but he believes the current version is more than enough to cope with this issue.

"We had a flurry of activity about a year ago on the infringement of registered trademarks by their being included in metatags but this is the next step.”

One case in New Zealand involving copyright last year involved AJ Park's own website.

"Our own website was cloned." As Computerworld reported in August (Lock up your website - the Russians are coming), a Russian website had copied AJ Park's New Zealand site completely, inserting its name and logo in place of AJ Park's and changing the names of the lawyers involved.

"He copied all of our pages and put them onto three different domain names and then was starting to tinker with the pages and change them, but they hadn't put in all those links before we were notified."

Moon says he contacted the man who "willingly disbanded the whole idea but what he was eventually going to do with it all I'm not sure."

Moon says it was a clear copyright breach but as they stopped using the copyright material straight away the law firm didn't take it any further.

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