What do you do when a site blatantly steals your blog’s content? This is a growing problem for bloggers but thanks to tools like CopyScape its not hard to find them. The challenge comes when you want to do something about it.
A few days back I found a site which had copied (word for word) all 8 articles in my Adsense for Bloggers series of posts.
It especially concerns me as this is a site that not only gave no backlink to my articles or even a mention of who the original author was (they post it as if it is original content). They didn’t ask permision and were running the articles on a site that is commercial in nature and is making money off my own work.
So what should one do?
1. Contact the site concerned – First port of Call should always be to contact the webmaster concerned and politely explain to them that they are in breech of copyright and that you wish them to remove the content immediately. In 90% of cases where I’ve done this the content has been removed within 24 hours and there has usually been some sort of apology.
2. Whois – Run a Whois check on the site concerned. There are numerous services around that do this – I use the CopyScape service and on the page in question got information on the site with details of the owner of it.Whilst it doesn’t tell much it does give one or two avenues for further action.
For example in this case it gives me a name of registrant of the site and an email address.
It also tells me who the site is registered through and who is now hosting the site.
3. Contact the Site’s Hosts – This is what I have now done after not hearing from the webmaster concerned. I told the the company that hosts the site in question that it is hosting a site in breech of copyright and asked them to contact him on my behalf and ask for him to remove the content. If this does not happen I will ask the host company to remove the site as they are supporting a copyright breech. So far the company has been most helpful and is attempting to help out.
4. Contact the Site’s Advertisers - What is the motivation of a site stealing content? Well they are obviously doing it in this case to earn a few dollars on the side. What is therefore most likely to get them to take some notice – take their earning capacity away. In this case the site seems to have previously advertised with Adsense (the code is in their ‘view source details’) although the ads are not showing and I suspect they may have been banned. They do have another advertiser who I today emailed notifying them of the site’s activities which are against their rules and conditions. I asked them to stop dealing with this site.
5. Shame the suckers! - I guess that is what this post is about. Name and Shame them – expose them for the thieves that they truly are. (update – after a couple of months the site in question was removed by hosts of the site for doing this same thing to others – this post worked in highlighting their activities and I’ve since removed links to it as it is no longer there).
6. File for them to be banned from Google and other Search Engines – Next on the list of action you can take is to file a notice of infringement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with Google. This has the potential to get the site in question banned from Google. Other Search Engines have similar procedures. I’m yet to go to this length with any site because by this point they have usually responded. However in this case its my next step.
7. Legal Action - I guess this is a last course of action that I am yet to take but the avenue is open to me. The Whois search gives enough to go on to start such proceedings.
I’m sure there are other methods of getting some action on copy theft – but this is what I’ve done so far. Feel free to add your comments, suggestions, experiences and thoughts below in comments.