Recently, I received a trackback from an adult site. The source turned out to be a link to this blog from a blog post on Gera’s SweetsFoods Food Blog that had been scraped by that adult site. Although I usually ignore scrapers and do not mind some better quality aggregator sites republishing my posts with attribution, obviously we do not want to have our content appear on adult sites nor allow incoming links from them.
I made a special request of Gardening Blogger Stephanie Suesan Smith to write up how to get stolen content removed from a site because I knew she had researched the process for going after sites that steal blog content. This guest post is the result.
It happens so frequently it is almost an urban myth. You are tooling around the web and run smack dab into your content on someone else’s website with no attribution. Now what do you do?
Handily enough, the law in the United States has actually caught up with computers in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This is a portion of the copyright law that lays out the steps to take if your content is stolen. These start off civil and end up with the offending site being removed, but take some time to execute. You have to follow the steps exactly, or you cannot enforce the next step.
The first step is sending a notice to remove the content to the website owner. You can obtain that information, if it is not listed on the website, through WHOIS.com. You send a letter that must contain the first paragraph and then something to the effect of the other one:
This is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The article (post) ___ is an unauthorized use of material copyrighted by ___. Remove it immediately or we will report this copyright infringement to the US copyright office, Feedburner, and Google. Their actions may include removing this site from their index and other products and banning other sites owned by you. In addition, you could be liable for usage fees for the material cited.
The owner has 72 hours or so to comply. If they fail to do so, you report their site to Google, Feedburner, each advertiser on the site, and their web host. The web host will usually force them to remove the offending material or disable the site until that is done because that relieves the web host of liability for the infringement.
The FoodBlogForum has an excellent article on all the nuts and bolts of blog copyright protection and going after an offender. Mike’s Tech blog has some interesting ways to prevent blog content from being stolen. You can also use WordPress copyright plugins.
When contacting advertisers, be sure to mention that your article or post at a specific URL has been used without permission, that you contacted the webmaster, and that your efforts have been ignored. Ask the advertiser to stop doing business with the website until the matter is resolved. This hits the site in the pocketbook and usually resolves the matter.
If it does not, you want to contact Google and the other search engines and have them de-listed. Here are the instructions on doing that:
You only want to take this action if you cannot get the content removed any other way. Once started, it usually is irrevocable — search engines are aggressive about following the law for their own protection. By the same token, contacting the web host of the offending website should only be done as a last resort. Each web host has instructions on doing so under their help topics if you search the Digital Millennium Copyright Act there.
Copyright infringement will happen to you if you write and post on the web. Some people have a very laissez faire attitude toward it, figuring it spreads their work. Others get angry and want to punish the offender and make him or her remove the stolen content. Most people overlook some infringement but draw the line at others. Now you know what to do when that line is crossed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie (@lambdakennels1) is the author of “Preparing a Vegetable Garden From the Ground Up” and an extremely talented blogger with specialized knowledge she shares in her garden blog (@icgardening), photography blog (@icphotos1) and woodworking blog (@icwoodworking). If you have a site in any of these niches do consider collaborating with Stephanie.
To learn more about why I recommend Stephanie as a role model for bloggers and businesses, read Stephanie’s interview on MurrayNewlands.
Latest posts by stephaniesuesansmith (see all)
- Creating Website Videos is Easier Than You Think - September 14, 2011
- Case Study: How to Deal with a Negative Review on Google Places - August 12, 2011
- What To Do If Your Content Is Stolen - April 19, 2011