You’re sitting at your desk, scanning through the internet. Cold drink in one hand, mouse in the other. You’re having a great time, when you happen upon an article that looks vaguely familiar. As you read on, you realize the article you’re reading is one you’ve written… but it’s not on your website.
Someone has plagiarized your work! You spent all that time writing the perfect article only to have some “scraper” copy it from your site and paste it to theirs. How dare they!
People do this all the time. They start a website with the intent to make money on advertising. They have no real writing experience or skill, so they find quality content from other websites and blatantly steal it. This is called “plagiarizing,” “scraping,” or just good old fashioned “theft.” They don’t ask your permission, they just take it and claim it. In fact, it could have been stolen from another thief. Who knows where they actually got it from, but the point is, they have it, and YOU wrote it.
But what can you do about it?
There are actually a few ways to deal with this.
How to Handle Content Thieves
The Polite Email
You can send them a polite email:
I found this article on your website. [LINK TO STOLEN ARTICLE]
I am the original author of this article. [LINK TO YOUR ORIGINAL ARTICLE]
While I am flattered that you would enjoy this article enough to want to include it on our website, you did not ask if you could use it, and I did not give you permission to take it. I am hereby requesting that you remove it from your website. If you would like, I am willing to write some new articles exclusively for your website at a rate of $50 per article.
You have 48 hours to comply with my request, or I will be forced to file a DMCA takedown notice with your hosting company.
Thank you for your cooperation on this matter.
The price you give for writing is completely up to you, if you wish to include it. Any number will do. A few things could come of this:
- The person could email you back rudely, tell you to buzz off, and either remove the article or not.
- The person could not email you back and either remove the article or not.
- The person could email you back with an apology and agree to take down the article. (As rare as it is, sometimes the person doesn’t realize that what they have done is both wrong and illegal.) They might even agree to pay you to write for them!
Typically, the person does not email you back, but does remove the article.
Whether you get a response or not isn’t really the issue, though. It’s whether or not they remove your work.
File a DMCA Takedown Notice
So what do you do if they don’t remove the article? Simple. File a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice.
- Figure out who is hosting the scraper site by going to Who Is Hosting This and putting in the URL of the scraper site.
- Find the contact information on the host’s website, and send an email the host with the below text, filling in your own info:
To Whom it May Concern:
My name is [YOUR NAME HERE], and I am the President/Owner of [YOUR WEBSITE/BUSINESS]. A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on at least one copyright owned by my company.
An article was copied onto your servers without permission. The original article, to which I own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at: [YOUR ARTICLE URL]
The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at: [THE SCRAPED ARTICLE URL]
I have contacted this person, but have had no result.
This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.
Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action, you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your servers with all due speed should the direct infringer, your client, not comply immediately.
I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights my company owns are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate, and I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.
Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.
[YOUR PHONE NUMBER]
[YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS]
I have not had any personal issue, nor heard of anybody having any issue with this method. The host company doesn’t want a lawsuit on their hands, so they usually take down the site or at least disable the URL to the article.
Good luck, and may your blog be free from scrapers!
For more information and some great alternative tips, check out my friend Angela’s post: What do I do if Someone Steals my Blog Content