Content and copyright theft is an increasing problem on the Web.
So what should you do if you discover your content has been stolen by another website?
How To Pursue Content Theft and Copyright Violation
Yesterday I discovered that some of my website content had been copied and pasted onto someone else’s website.
On the one hand it was a boost to the ego to see my content blatantly displayed on someone else’s site.
The comments were also highly favourable: “excellent words”, “brilliant article”, etc.
But I hadn’t given any permission for them to lift and re-use my content in this way for their own site. It was done entirely without my knowledge, and the violator had not even given me any back-link or acknowledgement of my site as the source of the material.
It can also have negative consequences for your search engine rankings. Duplicate content is routinely penalized by the search engines.
So action had to be taken.
I composed a “Cease and Desist Misuse of Copyright” email to the violators concerned.
And sure enough, a few hours later, the stolen content was removed from the site.
Content Theft is a Fact of Life Online
The fact is the Internet makes it very easy for people to steal your website content.
And if your content is any good, then it’s almost inevitable that sooner or later someone is going to come along and attempt to steal it.
So it’s important to be prepared and that you know what to do in these cases.
Generally speaking (some legal jurisdictions may differ) you do not actually have to have copyright statements on your website. Standard copyright law means that anything you create is automatically subject to your copyright.
However, there is a great deal of misunderstanding and folklore surrounding copyright – and especially online copyright.
For this reason it’s best to make sure you have a clearly defined copyright statement on your site. Some sites permit free use or republishing of their content for example under the Creative Commons license. Others do not.
So make sure your actual copyright policy is clearly stated. People often make their own assumptions when they don’t know the actual situation.
And by the way, you don’t have to use the © icon in order to declare your copyright. That’s another piece of copyright folklore. But some feel the © has some kind of invisible force of it’s own. So you might as well use it!
How Can I Find Out If Someone Has Stolen My Website Content?
Protecting your website against copyright theft is an important matter for website owners. There’s no 100% protection against theft but there are still many things you can do to protect yourself.
There are a number of methods and services available on the Internet to help you determine if any of your content has been copied and pasted to other pages on the Web.
Among them are services such as Copyscape, Content-cop and others.
And of course, there’s always Google. Simply doing a few Google searches for your main content keywords can quickly reveal content thieves.
You can also set up Google Alerts to ping you whenever someone mentions your content online (You should be doing this anyway for your most important keywords and pages).
The best service of all in my opinion is DMCA.com. DMCA.com must be one of the largest and most popular digital copyright protection organizations – if not the biggest, with currently over 56,000,000 web pages under their protection.
I’ll talk more about DMCA.com later in this article.
What To Do If You Discover Your Content Has Been Stolen
First you need to document the violation.
So you should take a PDF print of the offending page.
You do not have to print this out onto paper. Just do a PDF print directly to a file.
You should also take a screenshot of the page as well.
Next, send an email directly to the offender.
You can find the email address either on the website, or else just use their contact form.
If neither of these options is available, you can see if you can turn up an email address by Googling around the website name.
If this does not return anything, then you may be able to find the contact details by doing a “whois” lookup.
If this does not yield anything, then you can email the web-hosting company. This should be listed in the whois information.
Keep your email polite, but firm and to the point. I recommend you send a proper “cease and desist misuse of copyright”. You can find free templates for this kind of email on Google.
If someone has stolen content from your website and is hosting it somewhere else without your permission, then DMCA.com can also help.
Go to www.dmca.com and enter your details on the form. Include the URL location of where you found your stolen content and DMCA will go to work on your behalf against the copyright violators.
DMCA.com is also the system I use to protect the copyright of my sites.
How To Prevent Your Content Being Stolen
You can register your site for free with DMCA.com and take advantage of their FREE basic service.
You can then download the DMCA.com Protection Badge.
The basic DMCA Protection service is absolutely free of charge and it includes:
- a choice of over 25 Protection Badges for your site
- registration with the DMCA.com ProtectionPortal, which gives you access to additional free and paid protection services.
- Protected page index – a complete list of all website pages protected by the DMCA badge.
- 1 FREE DMCA Takedown per year if your content is stolen.
- 10% OFF all Professional Takedown services.
- Protected page tracking through DMCA .com’s secure Portal.
- Access to DMCA .com’s comprehensive online Knowledge Base.
It’s very easy to add your posts and pages to your DMCA Protection Plan. Just place a DMCA Protection Badge on the web page. That page will automatically be scanned and then registered in the DMCA system.
If you add the DMCA Protection Badge to the footer of your website, it will automatically add that web page that contains that footer to the Protected pages list and with that will be scanned and registered with DMCA.
DMCA.com also offers a paid-for service for website protection which includes all the above as well as a number of tools and services to help website owners protect their website content – as well as content takedowns in cases where content is stolen.
With DMCA.com’s Website Protection Pro service you can protect your website for $10 a month or $100 a year.
DMCA.com Protection Pro is an effective deterrent, management, reporting and resolution system for digital copyright protection.
Fighting against content copyright violators and keeping them at bay can be tiring work and involves overhead in terms of time, effort and expense.
To keep this overhead to a minimum I strongly recommend that you register your site with DMCA.com.
Purchase one of their excellent copyright protection plans, or at the very least take advantage of their free basic protection plan – and keep the copyright violators away from your website.
For more info about the DMCA visit www.dmca.com