Take Action on Content Theft

The internet is great: you can publish all sorts of work and get paid for it almost immediately. But, unfortunately, it also makes it very easy for people to steal your work and repost it. It’s up to you to take action against this sort of content theft — even if you sold the piece in question to a publication, odds are they won’t take an action, because you probably only sold first serial rights.

What can you do?

Email the offender: Not all ‘content thieves’ actually think of what they do as theft. Maybe they copied a post from your blog to theirs in full, but they figured it was okay to do so as long as they attributed the post and linked to your blog. If you send a polite email, you might be able to keep that link active but get the blogger to only post a small quote from your post. If they liked your work enough to repost, they should understand that they’re reducing your ability to earn money if they repost your work.

Send a DMCA notice to the offender’s web host: If it is not immediately obvious who hosts a site — myblog.blogspot.com, for instance, is hosted by blogspot.com / Blogger — you can find out through WhoIs.net and similar sites that provide domain name look-ups. Send the host an email asserting that the material posted on the site in question is infringing on your copyright.  (Performancing has some sample DMCA notices available to help you out.) From there, it’s up to the host to remove the material.

Send a DMCA notice to Google and other advertisers: This is your weapon of last resort — if you’ve heard nothing back when you sent an email to the individual infringing on your copyright or their web host, you can send one to their advertisers, which can lead to advertisers withdrawing from a site.

Take legal action: If you can prove that an individual infringing on your copyright has made money off of your material, you may have grounds for a civil suit. However, before pursuing this route, talk with a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law.

3 Comments

  1. Jonathan Bailey   •  

    First off, a great overview of your options for dealing with content theft and thanks for the link to the stock letters!

    Two things I would want to add though are that, first, a better place to find out the host of the site is domaintools.com. It has much more complete information. Whois.net is going only going to show you the registration data for the domain, not who the host is.

    Second, there are times to send a DMCA notice before sending a cease and desist, especially with spammers and other cases of obviously intentional plagiarism. If they know they did wrong and it can be shown, then there isn’t much point in filing a cease and desist.

    Still, a great guide and thank you for helping to get the word out!

  2. thursday   •     Author

    I’d argue that there is still a point to filling a cease and desist — some intentional plagiarists only plagiarize so long as they haven’t been caught. Most web hosts also prefer to see some evidence that you tried to handle the matter with the infringing party prior to contacting them (it makes it easier for them to defend their actions later on, if necessary).

    But yes, this is a crucial issue, and thank you for your additions!

  3. Pingback: Incurable Disease of Writing » Blog Archive » Just Write BlogCarnival

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