How to Deal with Content Theft

If you produce good content, at some point someone will steal that content and post it on their own site.

This article offers some tips on dealing with that.

The first time someone ripped my content I had two reactions. The first was, “Yeah! My content is good enough for someone to want to steal!” The second was anger – I work hard to produce content and to have someone rip it, repost it and not credit me hurts.

The Two Types of Pirate

The Shameless Pirate

This one knows they are stealing your content, feels no remorse and usually does it to either increase traffic (and revenue) on their site or increase their (perceived) credibility / expertise. Some do it for both reasons.

Often times they will retouch your article (and usually butcher the text) or obscure watermarks on your images.

The Unintentional Pirate

This person reposts your content because they think it is good and useful and just wants to share it.

They don’t pretend it’s theirs. They don’t try to hide the watermarks on your images and often times they point back to your original article.

Even thought they point back to your article, the problem is that YOUR content is driving traffic to THEIR website.

What to Do

1) Notify them that they are reproducing your content without permission and this is a violation of copyright law.

Most often, I leave a comment on the article in question. If they don’t have comments enabled, try to find a contact email and email them (ensure you clearly identify the article in question if you email them).

2) Request they remove the content promptly.

I use the following text (which you are free to use) when notifying about copyright violation and requesting content removal:

This webpage is using copyrighted and protected material. You are using the entire content of my article without permission. This is original content and I am the author and copyright holder. Use of copyright protected material without permission is illegal under copyright laws.

Please take one or more of the following actions immediately:

  • Remove the article and replace it with a short excerpt from my article with a link redirecting to the original article on my website.
  • Remove the article and write your own article with your own words and your own screen captures.
  • Remove the article completely.

I am delighted when people find my articles useful and interesting enough to be shared. I am not happy when people completely duplicate the content without permission. Short excerpts with a link pointing back to the original article are acceptable usage.

This text is based on a sample notification found in Lorelle’s article on dealing with content theft.

3) Identify other content that has been ripped and notify the owners of that content.

If someone has ripped your content, it is very likely they have ripped someone else’s as well. Just grab a sentence from the article, paste it into Google and see what comes up.

You might not think it is your business to worry about content ripped from other people. Actually, it is. You stand a better chance of being heard if other people join your voice in denouncing copyright violation.

Usually, I notify other people by leaving a comment on their article and linking to the infringing article. Again, if they don’t have comments enabled, I try to find a contact email and email them (again, ensure you clearly identify the content being stolen and the URL where it is stolen.

4) Inform Google.

Google provides a mechanism by which they will remove infringing material from their search engine and other services. Use this link to do so (this should bring you to a Google request for content removal page in your native language – probably based on your OS and browser language settings – if not, then use this link to get an English language page.)

I am sure other search engines provide similar services, but I don’t think they are worth bothering about.

Between 23-April-2012 and 30-April-2012, Google accounted for 99.33% of all search engine referrals to this site. Yahoo accounted for 0.12%, Ask for 0.09% and Bing for 0.08%.

From talking with other webmasters, this search breakdown is pretty much the same for everyone else.

UPDATE 11-Aug-2012: Google is modifying their search algorithm to take into the number of valid copyright removal notices against a site. The goal is to rank copyright violators lower, thus allowing legitimate, original content to rank higher.

This means it is even more important to report copyright violations. As Google writes: “Only copyright holders know if something is authorized, … Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright …”

Final Thoughts

I don’t mind people using my content. That is why I make it freely available. No one has to register or pay a subscription to access my content.

I don’t mind people linking to my content (in fact, I encourage it).

I don’t mind people posting an excerpt of my content – it whets peoples appetite for the content.

But I don’t like people taking my content and reposting it somewhere else because (1) it dilutes my content and (2) I get no recognition for my work (each visit to my site is like a pat on the back – more so when people leave comments).

Further Reading

An excellent article on dealing with copyright violation is this one by Lorelle.

2 Comments

  • Martha says:

    I really enjoyed the articles I’ve read so far. Quite an informative website and all the articles are well-written and stay on-topic.
    Thanks and please keep up the great work.

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