From: Taylor Bloom, Ray Ellis for San Diego Council 2016
To: Bruce Lightner
VIA EMAIL AND FEDERAL EXPRESS
Re: Unauthorized Exploitation of Intellectual Property and Copyright Infringement
Dear Mr. Lightner:
I represent Ray Ellis in his campaign for San Diego City Council, District 1. This letter concerns your misappropriation of my client’s intellectual property for use on your campaign website. Please direct all future correspondence concerning this matter to my attention.
The Ray Ellis for Council 2016 campaign has a website at http://www.ellisforcouncil.com (the “Ellis website”). We have recently become aware that the content and code of the Ellis website, which was created and paid for by the Ellis campaign, has been misappropriated and appears on the website for Bruce Lightner for District 1 (http://www.brucelightner.org) (the “Lightner website”). The Ellis campaign hired a website designer to develop a unique campaign website for Mr. Ellis. The Ellis website was paid for by the Ray Ellis for Council 2016 campaign and is customized with features that signify the owner of the underlying code.
Federal copyright infringement is blatantly apparent when comparing the underlying code and content of the Lightner website with that of the Ellis website.
You stole the code and content from the Ellis website and used it to create the Lightner website. When conducting a side-by-side comparison of the Ellis and Lightner Ray Ellis for Council 2016 websites, they are nearly identical in appearance, content, design, layout, and overall outlook. Further, the underlying CSS and HTML of the two websites is nearly identical and code containing identifying information unique to the Ellis website is present in numerous places on the Lightner website. This proves beyond doubt that the content and code on the Lightner website was misappropriated from the Ellis website.
The Ellis website has a link to the Facebook page for Ray Ellis’ District 1 campaign and the unique Facebook Identification number assigned to the Ray Ellis for District 1 Facebook page is included in the underlying code on the Ellis website. The code on the Lightner website contains this unique Facebook Identification number assigned to the Ray Ellis for District 1 Facebook page. The inclusion of the Ellis unique identification number in the Lightner code is evidence enough to support a federal copyright infringement claim.
To confirm that the content and code of the Lightner website was taken from the Ellis website, a differential assessment was conducted. A differential assessment is a tool that can be used to compare two versions of the same webpage to see the differences between the two. This is a vital tool for programmers to use to debug their software and see who changed what code and when. For example, a common question answered by differential tests is “This code used to work, but now it doesn’t. What was changed?”
Before discussing the changes found by the differential test ran on the Ellis and Lightner websites, it is important to note the fact that the test was even possible to run on these two websites is undeniable evidence that these two HTML files are simply two versions of the same file (the first being Ray Ellis’ original website, the second being the copied and pasted version that you published under your own name). To illustrate, if I run a differential test on the homepage for Google and the homepage for Facebook, the test will fail, as those two websites have no overlap whatsoever. The Ellis website contains 1,081 lines of code, and the differential test run on the Ellis and Lightner websites only uncovered 66 changes to Ellis’ original codebase. All of these changes are minor content changes to names and images.
There is no possible explanation for the overwhelming similarities between the Ellis and Lightner websites, other than the Lightner website was copied and pasted from the Ellis website. This is blatant intellectual property infringement.
The Ellis website contains unique class names that indicate who created the underlying code and content. These class names begin with the name of the Ellis website’s designer, Efund. The class names located in the Lightner website begin with the name of the website designer Efund. Efund has confirmed that it was never hired by the Lightner campaign to develop a campaign website and has no relationship to the Lightner campaign whatsoever. The presence of the class name of the designer who was paid by the Ellis campaign to create the Ellis website on the Lightner website is evidence enough to support a federal copyright infringement claim.
Thus, as the overwhelming evidence described above shows, you have violated the intellectual property rights of the Ellis campaign. We request that the Bruce Lightner for District 1 website be taken down within 72 hours or we will be forced to take further legal action. Should you wish to discuss this matter further please feel free to contact me.
Taylor A. Bloom, Esq.
cc: Tony Manolatos, Ray Ellis