Every time we publish on the web, it’s a leap of faith. Of course, our first thought is “boy, I hope someone reads this” and not “wow, I hope someone doesn’t steal this.” But there is plenty of content theft occurring on the internet. If you're a blogger, you need to know how to protect your blog content and the steps to take if your content gets boosted.
The reason that I’m writing this is that I’ve had quite a few articles taken from my website and I’m sure that it’s happening to other writers as well. Most recently, a social media company took text directly from my blog and used it in an infographic word for word. I happened to see it on Pinterest and tried to contact them via Twitter and email. And I wrote about it, of course. This infographic has gone viral and has been posted on Social Media Today, Bit Rebels, PR Daily and Entrepreneur. I also filed a takedown notice with Google. If your content is taken per the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you may submit a claim to Google. It’s fairly quick to complete.
The content thief didn’t respond via Twitter but several days later sent me an email saying that it was a “clerical error” and they’ve added a link to their post and adjusted the infographic. Operating with a “better to ask forgiveness” type policy is the wrong way to go with online content. Always ask permission if needed and always give credit for content that isn't yours.
I’ve found most of the people who have taken whole posts without permission from links back to my site that were in the body of the article. Make sure you’re checking your linkbacks on your posts.
For the record, had they asked, I would have gladly given them permission to use it with credit. I'm sure that there are rules for taking text to use them in graphics but I don't know what those are or if they are the same. They did take text from other websites and gave them credit on the original infographic.
Do you have a republication policy?
I have a policy on my blog and I highly suggest that you add one to yours as well. This tells people know if it’s ok for them to use your content or not. My notice clearly states: “To be clear, you do not have permission to take material from my blog and run it on yours.”
From my republication policy:
- You may publish a quote of 100 words or less from the original article with a link to the original article.
- If you republish a partial post, it must be exactly as it appears on my website with all links intact.
- Special permission needs to be granted in order to republish more than 100 words from this website. Full articles are not permitted to be republished without permission from the owner of this site.
I subsequently received an email from Google saying:
Thanks for reaching out to us.
In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have completed processing your infringement notice. The following URLs will be removed from Google’s search results in a few hours:
Please let us know if we can assist you further.
Yes, another reason to love the Google gods!
The person who took my content then contacted me to see if I would have this lifted by Google since they added a link to my website. I have not done this since I feel that they didn’t respect my intellectual property or the copyright laws and they shouldn’t be rewarded for making a small amends once they were caught.
How you can protect your blog content
- Create a reposting or permission policy on your blog. I used this as a guideline:
- You agree to publish a quote or excerpt of, at maximum, 100 words from the original article.
- You agree to republish the partial post exactly as it appears on this website with the proper formatting and all links intact.
- Check your linkbacks to your blog to make sure your content isn’t being taken without your permission.
- You can try a website like Copyscape to check for plagiarism.
What to do if your content is taken? Of course, you can ignore as some writers do but why? That's your intellectual property. Contact the website owner via Twitter, email, phone or whatever method you can find. One person ignored all my communications but received a phone call from me. Yes, he was surprised and yes, he removed my copy when I insisted. His excuse was “that it takes a long time to write on a blog so he just likes to take content from other sites and give them a link.” Seriously? No.
I hope you won't need it but if you need to file a takedown notice with Google. You can file a DMCA takedown notice with Google but if the stolen content is on WordPress, file one here: Automattic DMCA Notice. Also, please note that I am NOT an attorney and this isn't legal advice. Read the whole legal agreement before completing it and signing it.
Have you dealt with content theft from your website? How have you handled it?
P.S. I’d love to meet you on Twitter here
And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.
How to File a DMCA Takedown Notice by Sara Hawkins
What to do When Your Online Content is Copied by Sara Hawkins
Photo credit Stocksy and BigStock Photos.
Thank you Peg! You always post awesome information. I do not understand why some people think that it would be okay to steal blog posts. On one hand… be thankful that you are doing something so compelling & interesting… that others are trying to jump on the wagon. Thank you for always doing your best & bringing great value to every post. Have a great week!
jaredeasley You’re welcome! I guess there’s an advantage to podcasting over blogging there, right? No one can steal your podcast.
I don’t know why people think it’s ok to take content, it seems that people feel everything on the internet is free for the taking. We all learned about plagiarism in school.
I appreciate your comments. You have a great week too!
PegFitzpatrick jaredeasley Oddly enough – Someone recently took my podcast & downloaded the mp3 & put it on their page instead of linking to my site. I am not worried about it because anyone that listens to the show will know that it is me, but I was curious why that person did not link to my site instead? http://youtu.be/XF2ayWcJfxo
jaredeasley Silly as it seems, maybe you should just post on your posts or in a policy to please link back to your website/original podcast if you use it on your site.
PegFitzpatrick jaredeasley I never anticipated needing to do this before. Thank you for the insight Peg!
Great info and resource Peg. I’ve had my posts and photos stolen so many times. Once a post was scraped and posted on 14 different websites within 48 hours. Crazy. So many DMCA take downs to file…
reneedobbs Wow, Renee! I bet it happens more with foodie blogs, that’s a bummer. I think that people feel recipes are meant to be shared and not realizing the work it takes to create and perfect a recipe
I’m assuming you already have a republication policy on your blog for your content and photos.
PegFitzpatrick I have an FYI page that covers copyright and other information.
I knew someone who boasted of “often asking for forgiveness rather than permission,” and that “appearance is reality.” She was the new executive director of an NPO. The funny thing is, as her board of directors, we ended up choosing not to “forgive” her because in the end, “it’s what’s underneath the surface that counts.”
Just as with trolls, plagiarists have a special place in Google hell. Am I being too harsh? If so, I’ll ask for your forgiveness.
This is great information! Thanks so much for sharing.
You can also make it impossible for anyone to cut and paste fro your blog. That seems to work pretty well.
Michael Bely says
Dealing with individual thieves is very tedious. But if your content is stolen by automatic crawlers, then the good way to fight with it is to include in your content links to your website. Let thieves promote you if nothing else is left…
Peg, You hit the nail squarely on the head in so many places. YES, have a republication policy and YES insist infringers take your content down.
We think about this topic a lot. To bloggers who have given up: the tools are out there to help you, so use them … don’t give up!
sm4hcare Very funny. Shocking that the ED of an NPO would be so careless with her career. I guess it’s the way that people without skills are getting by.
I agree with the Google hell, wholeheartedly.
rodeenas Glad you liked it!
RAAckermanATCerebrations How do you do that on your blog?
Michael Bely Excellent point!
Thanks so much for this great article. I’ve had this happen. The interesting thing is when I went to find a way of contacting the person, he or she had virtually no way of doing so on the website. I think I finally managed to track down an email and pretty much hounded the person until I saw it was taken down. Very frustrating. I think a specific republication policy is a great idea.
jenhavice Very frustrating indeed! I think that this type of person doesn’t want to be contacted. I hope you put up a policy on your website, I think that having one is helpful. You can point people to it if it happens again.
Margaret Montrose says
Dear Peg I hope everyone likes this little verse on ‘theft’ – I still run a Patent Agent for my engineering stuff but haven’t had a ‘war’ in this world yet;
Free Download’s prostitution of the Artist,
The product of a lousy Moral State;
Where government’s engaged in screwing everyone,
So we screwing someone else is just his fate.
Because Socialism proposes that free’s proper,
We expect to live a life upon the dole;
But life is mighty shallow if none prepared to hallow
It’s endeavours with the inspiration of their Soul.
Why should you have the labour of the artist
Without paying him the rightful fee he’s earned?
Would you go to work all day if there wasn’t any pay?
So why should be the artist’s labour spurned?
The artist’s work is not just what he shows you,
Which you fancy that just anyone could do;
For it’s taken skills and pains that are far beyond your brains
So it’s right that you should pay him what he’s due.
To cheat him you no doubt imagine clever,
Because cheating has become our Moral stance;
But cheating is just kicking – would you enjoy a licking?
In the life of free-loader’s lousy dance.
For nothing worth is born without a struggle,
While creation is a lonely life of pain;
To acquire it without paying is contemptible – while saying
That the artist’s work’s not even worth the name.
If we want the joy the Artist’s flights provide us
Then it’s time that we stopped thinking that it’s free;
Stop financially abusing then acknowledge him by using
Every method we can find to pay his fee.
Art’s creation is an act of love and passion,
Should we fancy such devotion is a wraith?
Yet when you refuse your due that’s exactly what you do,
Would you give your Love a stone to show your faith?
So think on this you passionate freeloader
Who expects to get his life upon the cheap;
If you don’t keep art alive by enabling it to thrive
The artists will have died – so you won’t reap.
Margaret Montrose Thanks, Margaret. It’s my first poem comment. 🙂
Margaret Montrose says
PegFitzpatrick Margaret Montrose Thanks Peg, there are many more where that came from!
Sonia (Sunnnee) says
Hi Peggy, I found this post from Blogher and it happened to me. Another blogger not only copied my entire post, but reposted on their blog. She credited it back to me, but it would have been better if she has just asked. Also, I recently read a post about a blogger on a well-known Mom blog that came under fire for copying a post and created the same context. What is worst is that she posted the content on their blog and they came under fire for it when the original blogger was alerted about a post she did years ago. The post was removed, the blogger was fired and her reputation was ruined. It is just not worth it. I can understand someone telling their “story” from their own point of view, but if something inspired you to write it, credit it back period.
I’m so sorry that it happened to you. I’ve had it happen in a few different ways, the whole post, the title and main ideas, the idea and all the research, it’s crappy any way it happens.
Ruining your reputation as a blogger definitely isn’t worth it. I can’t imagine the thought process of the people cutting and pasting someone else’s writing on their blog and putting their name on it. They know it’s wrong.
Great post – Thanks for the tips 🙂
Thanks for this post, but what if some steals your blog or website design and steals others designs as well. I know a repeat offender and she really boils me because it seems as those she has the talent to recreate the designs (or knows how to steal codes). I don’t see why she wouldn’t just create her own design.
Sandra Sealy says
This is such an excellent post!
I’m a writer based in the Caribbbean in the midst of rebranding and found your great resource on Pinterest (yay for Pinterest, right?).This came at just the right time when I’m now building my stories and posts.
Actually there are writers who don’t even want to post ANYTHING on the web for fear of theft. Reading this has made me a fan. 🙂
thanks – really good info, and much appreciated!
Cheryl Black says
Oh this is sooo timely. I spent the week – an entire WEEK – having cease and desist letters issued and DMCA takedowns. About a dozen domains had taken a range of complete paragraphs to whole pages to …get this my entire site. My little 16 year blog was placed in a folder and reduced to a billboard of random links at the top and bottom of every page.
Most of the whois information was false and 3 or 4 domains had some sort of privacy lock on their account. So, I had to contact the host provider to disable the domain in question. The tool I used for that is: WhoisHostingThis [dot] com I am still not done. Two incidents involved my entire site being downloaded. Clearly not an “error” of any kind. So, I will be seeking damages for these egregious acts.
I love the idea of adding a republication policy to my legal notice. Great idea! I will think about it over the weekend.
hi, Someone already stolen my website Content but what can I do now ?
Judith Sullivan says
Hi Peg, Would we be infringing on any copyright to post or will we have to reword:
You do not have permission to take material from my website and reuse or republish it, with the three exceptions noted below.
• You may publish an unedited quote of 100 words or less from the original page or post with a link to the original page or post without permission – we reserve the right to rescind your use.
• If you republish a partial post, it must be exactly as it appears on betafeetpodiatry.co.uk with all links intact.
• Special permission needs to be granted in order to republish more than 100 words. Full articles or quotes of more than 100 words are not permitted to be republished without our written permission.
Thank you so much for writing this post. I have been thinking of starting a blog and would love to have my content protected.
again thank you for this post 🙂
Janice Krako says
Very informative Peg! Thanks for this post and so many others, always learn a lot from you ????