What can you do when someone steals your content?

There is nothing more frustrating than discovering that someone has taken your content and just blatantly stolen it, especially if you have spent hours researching your topic to ensure the content is valuable and accurate. Whether that content is written work like blog posts,  a book, a teaching/coaching program or other material like images, video, audio etc you have rights! In this article I focus on written content and in particular articles.

One of the more frustrating parts of content theft for me centres around article marketing and in particular my articles which are being sent out of thousands of article directories at a time.

This Friday I was checking out my reports inside an article marketing directory who provide a link to let you know where your article is being hosted on other sites. I randomly clicked on a few and found one blog that has used the article but not included my resource box. They had included my name (as I searched the site they hadn’t bothered adding an author name to any of the others I looked at) and as I went to find a way to contact them there wasn’t one.

Using Google Alerts

Because I have a Google alert set up on my name (very important to manage your reputation and read what people are saying about you/how people are using your name) I am alerted every time an article is posted on a site and sometimes I arrive to find they have removed my resource box.

This is very annoying because for someone reading the article they may assume I have a connection to the blog and am a writer for that blog – which I definitely do not want happening.

To counteract this I will leave a comment in the first instances. I write a comment and let them know as this is my article they need to include my resource box or they should remove my article from their site. That usually works and at the same time if they have a “contact us” form I will send a notice through there too.

The trouble is that many of the people doing this (I won’t even bother call them bloggers because they are not) will not bother to include any kind of contact info, some of them won’t allow comments on posts, so what else can you do? Well what you can do is focus on sending out information to the companies they use and what you want to send out is what Google calls a “Digital Millennium Copyright Act” (DMCA)  Copyright Infringement Notice.

All the details you need are included on the Google site and it outlines exactly what you need to do and the wording you need to use.  If the person using your content has a blogger blog or has Google adsense included on their blog (their adsense account will be closed down) then you can use this method to notify Google.

How else can you get them stopped?
Using the same template and wording (it’s a good idea to create one and use it over and over, just changing the appropriate details of the article) you can also send a notice to

  • The domain company they use
  • The hosting company they use
  • The blogging platform they use (if they are using a free platform like blogger, WordPress or any of the others)

Sometimes an email will be enough and the company will contact the offending person and tell them to remove the work. Other times (especially with Google) they will ask you to fax in a written letter or write to them directly.

Weighing up the costs of this extra work

You really have to think about whether it is worth the time chasing people and there are some instances when I will and some where I might but probably won’t, here are what they are :

If anything has been taken directly from this blog I WILL because this is the only place I am including this content right now as I build my authority in this area so I do not want it appearing on other blogs/sites.

If it is an article I MAY NOT because I have sent it out to hundreds of other sites and to be honest I probably wouldn’t get much traffic from the scumbag rubbish that placed it on their site anyway.
If is is a book I have written I WILL because that is my hard work, it is my effort that went into writing it and I am not going to allow someone to just take that.

If it is an image I have bought (I spend A LOT of money on images from stockexpert) I probably won’t even bother – to be honest I don’t keep tabs on things like that – too time consuming. But if it was an image I had created from scrath as an artist of course then I definitely will make some noise about it.

Is there a service?

It would be great if there was a service that would do the chasing for you! For a small monthly fee if anything comes up they would make contact with the site and have it removed. It’s a shame none of the article marketing syndication sites offer this – or do they? Perhaps it is not worth their while in manpower hours it would take to chase this around.
I read a blog post last year some time about a blog owner who contacted other article writers on the same blog where hers had been posted and got together to close down the site. It took a lot of work because she had to search Google for the writer and the article to find contact details. I am not sure if I am that committed – not over an article anyway.

I do give people a break – at least once!

Sometimes innocent mistakes are made, especially by people new to this industry, they truly do believe it is okay to tamper with an article and change it by removing the resource box. There are also those who truly do believe that if content is on the internet it is free and they have a right to just take it and use it.
I always know when someone has just made an error and not realised it because they will get in touch and apologise, they will add the resource box or they will remove the article (I guess they decided as none of the other authors are complaining they will continue doing what they are doing and just remove me!)

This is not about fair rights

There is of course something called “fair rights” (I am in no way legally qualified to talk about this so please do your due diligence and check it out for yourself) which allows you to quote from a book you are right about. That’s fine and is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about a person taking your content and adding it to your site exactly as you have written it so that someone reading it will assume that they are the author.

I hope this article has been useful for providing you with information on what to do when someone steals your content. Remember you have writes as the original owner of that content and it is a good idea to let it be known online that you will fight for your rights!