What Can You Do If Your Content Is Stolen? Three Solutions

By Ali Luke

It happens to every blogger at a certain point: their content is stolen.

The first you’ll know about it is, usually, a pingback notification from a blog linking to one of your past posts. When you look in more detail, you’ll realise that the link was originally an internal one – and your whole post has been reproduced.

Usually, it’s through an automated system, with some low-quality, scammy blog reprinting your whole post.

Occasionally, it’s by an individual who simply doesn’t know better – they reproduce your post, keeping your name and probably even a link back to the original in place.

If you’re not sure whether people might be stealing your content, Kristi Hines has a great post on KISSmetrics: Content Scrapers – How to Find Out Who is Stealing Your Content & What to Do About It.

So what can you do?

You’ve got three key options:

  1. Do nothing at all
  2. Contact the blog owner
  3. Contact their web host

Here’s how they break down.

#1: Do Nothing At All

If you want, you can simply ignore this theft. It may make you angry, or upset – but you may decide that it’s not worth wasting your energy pursuing it.

The blogs stealing content in this way are invariably very low quality, and unless they’re outranking you on Google for your own posts, you’re unlikely to lose traffic as a result of them reprinting your post.

It is possible, however, that if you get lots of links from low-quality blogs, Google may penalise you because it thinks you’re buying links or exchanging them. (Alternatively, you might find these links actually help your rankings – but personally I definitely wouldn’t count on that.)

#2: Contact the Blog Owner

In situations where you can find contact details, emailing the blog owner is usually enough to get your post removed.

Keep in mind that the person stealing your post may simply not know any better. They could be quite young, or very new to blogging. You don’t need to threaten legal action at this stage (though if they refuse to remove your post, you might want to).

#3: Contact their Web Host

By law, web hosting companies like Dreamhost and Hostgator have to take action against sites that are infringing copyright. (Your posts are automatically copyrighted when you publish them on your blog, unless you explicitly license them for reuse under Creative Commons.)

To get a site (or a post on it) taken down, you need to submit a DMCA Notification to the webhost. DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

You can find the host company by searching on whois.net for the domain name – look for the “whois server”. On the company website, search for “DCMA takedown” or similar. Here’s DreamHost’s instructions, for instance.

You can also submit a request to Google to remove the content from their search engine.

Note: The DCMA may not apply in your case if you and/or the site stealing your content are outside the US. Read Do DCMA Notices Work Outside the U.S.? for more details.

 

Personally, I’ve never had to escalate to #3 – I’ve either ignored content scraping or I’ve emailed the owner to ask for my content to be removed.

I’d always advise contacting a site first before submitting a DCMA Notification: it’s probably much quicker, and in some cases, the site may have stolen your content unwittingly.

(This actually happened to me earlier today – I found out that a blog I read had published an article from a guest poster that was heavily based on one I wrote two years ago. The host blog had acted in good faith and believed the article was unique. A quick email to them sorted it out.)

Has your content ever been stolen? What did you do about it? Share your experiences in the comments.




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4 Responses to “What Can You Do If Your Content Is Stolen? Three Solutions”

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for this!

    Last year, someone “reblogged” one of my posts. She gave me full credit and a link, but rather than just posting the intro copy followed by a “read the rest” link, she posted all six tips, just cutting some copy from each one so that she wasn’t technically posting the whole thing.

    I emailed her thanking her for promoting it, but explaining I felt she had posted too much of the content. She apologized but explained that many of her readers had already re-reblogged it (tumblr) and there was no way to remove it across all those blogs. Fortunately, she assured me she would ask for permission next time she wanted to use one of my posts.

    She did send me a decent amount of traffic, so I felt bad about getting on her case about it. Still, lots of her readers read what she posted and never clicked through to my blog – one person in the comments added a tip that I expressly said NOT to use in the intro copy of the original post – but they hadn’t read the original.

    In short, I’ve been feeling irritated, and then feeling guilty for feeling irritated, so this post is a great relief. I feel like I did the right thing in speaking up, even though the re-blogger didn’t mean any harm.

  • Anish Gupta

    Thanks for sharing this information with us. It is very beneficial for me as someone copied the data on my site and I was clueless. Now I will follow these steps so that Google may penalize him and remove his copied links.
    Thanks a lot.. 🙂

  • Rianti

    this is difficult. the internet is free of information and almost everything is easy to be copied, edited and reposted.

    i think contacting the owner is the best thing to do. since ignoring will definetely make you angry. and contacting the web host can be your last resource… if you dont want to take it to the court that is

  • Marc

    Another thing you can do is contact the advertisers, if there are any. A lot of people/companies don’t want to be associated with a site that is stealing content. One time I had a blog that was stealing my content and they were using BuySellAds. I noticed they were stealing content from other blogs as well so I contacted BuySellAds and they removed this site from their ad network. It doesn’t automatically get your content removed, but taking away their ability to make money might lead them to remove your content or the site is likely to eventually go offline if they don’t make any money.

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