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Help! Someone Stole My Blog Post!

angry bread

Maybe you got a suspicious pingback on a blog post.  Maybe something fishy turned up in your Google Alerts.  Maybe someone else stumbled across it and brought it to your attention.  No matter how you discover it, having your blog posts stolen can leave you feeling angry and violated.  Luckily, there are a few things you can do.

Is it really that bad to have my posts stolen?

As I’ve made my way through the world of web writing, I’ve often come across the attitude that content thievery is flattering, or that it isn’t worth the time and effort to get plagiarized articles taken down.  Not true!

Aside from the fact that you should feel offended that someone else is swiping the words, ideas, and images that you slaved over, it’s your intellectual property and using it without your permission is a crime.  And then there’s the Google issue; the search engine scans the web for duplicate content and assumes that anything that appears in multiple places is less important and therefore pushes the content farther down in search results, which ultimately hurts your pageviews.  If your blog is monetized and duplicate content is hurting your traffic, they are taking money out of your pocket.

Even if the offender thinks they’ve done nothing wrong (remember Judith Griggs?), you should always pursue your legal options.

Start with a warning.

As hard as it may be to believe, there are people out there who think that everything on the internet is free and they are welcome to do with it as they please.  Always give the benefit of the doubt and try to contact the plagiarizing site’s owner first.  Send a strongly worded message explaining that you are the owner of the content, you didn’t give your permission for its use, and you are demanding that it be removed from their site.  Be clear that if they do not comply, you will pursue legal action.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get results from this initial contact.  If you can’t locate contact information on the website, try doing a WhoIs search on the website to find out who owns the domain.  If you’re  unsuccessful in making contact or you don’t get a response from you initial request, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Send a legal notice.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act exists to protect your intellectual property from unauthorized reprinting.  A DMCA cease and desist letter, also called a Takedown Notice, is the first step in taking legal action, but in order to be official it must contain certain verbiage and be filed by mail or by fax. (Your WhoIs search should provide this information.)  You should send cease and desist letters to both the site owner and the site’s web hosting service; see good examples of both of these letters at Plagiarism Today.

Request the site’s removal from Google.

Google takes DMCA violations very seriously and will remove offending sites from their search results.  To report a violation, visit the Google Help page and select “Web Search” from the list, then follow the directions to have the copied post blacklisted from turning up in searches.

Hit them in the wallet.

Content scrapers and plagiarists are generally after one thing:  easy money.  If you notice your blog posts are being reprinted on a site with Google Adsense ads, reporting them to Adsense will result in the forfeiture of their Adsense account, including any unpaid revenue they have earned fraudulently by stealing your stuff.  Take that, dirty thieves!

To report a plagiarizing site, visit the Google Help page and choose “Adsense” from the list, then follow the directions to file your complaint.

Still not satisfied?  Pull the plug on them.

If you run across someone who really plays dirty, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) can help you fight back.  These folks are like the internet’s police force, with the power to revoke someone’s domain entirely if they are proved to be in violation of ICANN’s terms.

When should you contact ICANN?  Some websites might not respond to multiple cease and desist letters, or may take down your post only to re-post it days or weeks later.  Sometimes after a content thief has their hosting account shut down in response to a DMCA Takedown Notice, they just find a new hosting service and set up shop all over again.  You may find, during the course of investigating and filing other notices, that the information provided in your WhoIs search is falsified.  If this sounds like your situation, file a complaint with ICANN.

Whatever actions you need to take, you should always be persistent, and always keep a record of your legal actions in case you need to keep pursuing the issue.  It might take some time and effort, but in the end we are all better off for shutting down (or at least severely crippling) one more freeloading scumbag.

Rhonda Greene is the owner of Mrs. Greene and editor of Dollar Store Crafts. When she’s not blogging, you’ll likely find her playing outside, watching cheesy comedy movies, or talking to her cats.

photo: psycholabs, creative commons

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14 Responses to “Help! Someone Stole My Blog Post!”

  1. Wonderful article, Rhonda! Stumbling and pinning it for a reference (that I hopefully will not need… but you never know). It amazes me that so many people don’t understand that copying someone’s words (and photos, etc) is plagerism and copyright infringement. Thanks for getting the word out and your advice on how to tackle the slimy people that scrape the internet for a quick buck!

  2. Fabrizio says:

    Great article thanks ever so much !

  3. Great article and thank you very much for the link. I just wanted to give a heads up that the act is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), not Media. Other than that, the advice is pretty good.

    Thank you for talking about and drawing attention to this issue!

  4. Hi! Thanks for sharing the info….I hope I never have to encounter any of what you said…yikes, what a pain! :( Great info :) Thanks! (aka nucheysmommy)

  5. Great Post, I hope to never need this information! I have come across blogs that use copied content, and told the owner of the content that they’re being copied… and always with a heavy heart!
    With all the reports of copied content I’ve heard lately, it seems as if getting your content scraped is something that will happen to most of us eventually… : (

  6. Kelli says:

    This is all great info! I have been thinking about adding a “please do not copy my info” type of thing on my blog, but I’m not quite sure how to word it. Do you have any suggestions or links to good examples?

    • DNMEBOY says:

      Look up “creative commons license notice” you can find a pre written notice for your site in the form of an html snippit that you can simply copy and paste into your blog or site html.

      I found this post because this same exact problem just happened to me. Some guy literally copied and paste my blog post onto his own blog. He atole my photos, video, everything. I left comments on his blog and he deleted them and disable comments. I emailed him and was ignored. I found him on Facebook and messaged him and was ignored again. I gave him fair warning and asked politely that he remove my content from his site before filing a complaint with google. Hopefully my content will be removed from his blog. His entire blog is made of content that is clearly copied and pasted from various blogs online. The really stupid thing about it all is that this thief left a comment on MY blog post with a link to HIS blog post which was my stolen content….If he hadn’t I might not have ever known he did it. I might just have to find the owners of the other content and alert them.

      I also found a site that lets you check he web for duplicates of your site although I can not remember the name of it. Its worth looking into. I found 3 other people who have stolen the same blog post and contacted them as well.

      Anyway, thanks for the article here, it was really a great help.

  7. Excellent article! I just Pinned the link. I once came across a site that was stealing entire posts from my blog as well as many others. It took a good week, but the site was shut down…I wonder if he just moved somewhere else though. :(

  8. Melissa says:

    I haven’t seen any of my stuff stolen but there is someone who I follow on Facebook that has a ton of stuff that isn’t their original content and there is nothing saying, look at the great project from, or I found this project on blahblahblah see how great it turned out, or anything like that. What should/can I do? I don’t want these other little bloggers getting squashed. This person is even up for a blog award as the best lifestyle/homemaker blog. That’s what really irked me.

  9. Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl says:

    Rhonda, thank you for this article! It couldn’t be more timely! I just had one of my tutorials reprinted in full on another blog. I sent an email asking them to remove my content, but they could keep one photo and a link back. I haven’t heard back, so I guess I need to break out “the big guns.”

    Thanks again.

  10. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this post. I wish I had known all this information last month when someone stole two articles I had written and posted!!! They justified it by saying that I would be getting great exposure…whatever happened to asking nicely first?

  11. Connie Mace says:

    Excellent advice and information here! Sadly, stolen content is happening all too much these days. I was sent this link by a friend and plan to pass your link on to someone whose content was stolen.

  12. kathleen says:

    Hi, Rhonda. Very good info. I just found out that I had a post and photo stolen. I’m posting about it, of course. :) I’m including a link to this post in mine. If that’s not okay, please let me know, and I will remove it immediately.

    kathleen

  13. Becca says:

    Thank you for the great info. This recently happened to me and several other quilting bloggers. Before I managed to get home from work and all my info gathered to file a complaint, the site had been taken down. I’m going to link this for a quick post on Google+. Thanks!

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