Stop Copyright Infringement Scams
You can't prevent others from stealing your copyrighted content off your web site because the very fact that it can be viewed in a browser enables others to steal it. However, there are steps you can take to stop this scam and get your property removed from the offending website.|
Every hosting company has very strict rules for it's clients about copyright infringement and content theft. If the hosting company doesn't uphold those rules they can loose their license so this can work in your favor. If one of their clients breaks those rules, you can ask the client to remove it and if they refuse you can use a DMCA report and send it to their hosting company and they will sometimes either enforce that rule or in some cases even remove the offending website itself.
You can also report the site to Google's Spam Report as well as the other major search engines and if the offending scammer has Google AdSense and are using it for illegal activities you can report it there also (the same with other PayPerClick services). There are of course legal actions you can take but the following steps may save you that expense.
How to Check if your Content has been Stolen
Protect Content from Plagierism with rel="author"According to Google's Sagar Kamdar, you can protect your content by using the rel="author tag" at the end of your article and linking to your Google profile which has a "Contributor To" link back to the home page of your website. You can also do this in an email. Rel="author" is supposed to prove to Google that you are the author of your content and for Google to not let other scraped copies outrank your content. Once this is set up and Google indexes your pages it may take a few weeks for this to show up in the SERPs. Then if your page has been scraped in the past you can check your main keywords for this page and the scrapers should no longer be outranking you for the content on your page.
Steps to Remove Stolen Content
Also see What to do if your Domain is Stolen
Stolen Copyright Examples
Example 1: Stolen ContentOne client's site had his content stolen by a hijacker using a free hosting service and this was repeated on multiple freebie sites which were all linked to his main site (which was a main competitor of the client's site). This "Thief" copied the text on the home page and also after the site was updated he had the audacity to "update" his site with the new text within 24 hours. The owner of the offending site was contacted several times asking him to remove the text with no results and then the hosting company was contacted which had very strict rules about copyright infringement by it's Free clients. All of the thief's freebie sites, with the stolen content, were taken down by the hosting company within 24 hours.
Example 2: Stolen ArticlesThe same person mentioned above also stole copyrighted articles from the same client and posted them in free ad sites across the internet. So far this has happened over 30 times. We have to write each site and request to have the copyrighted article removed or attributed to the proper author. Sometimes we have to write the hosting company to get the article removed. This has been very successful ONLY because the author of this article posted it the first time in a newsletter a few years previous to the copyright infringement which is still online with a date on it and a copy of it is also in the way back machine, i.e., we had very specific 3rd party proof that the original article was written by my client. This is what you need to prove ownership, or an official copyrighted document recorded by the US Gov. copyright office.
Example 3: Stolen Business NameThis same person (obviously not learning from his mistakes and having a few screws loose) then purchased a new domain which copied my clients business name with every link on the scraper's site directed to his main domain (a dummy domain). The sole purpose for this site was to be able to post the stolen article on his own site (all other pages on this site were total gibberish making no sense at all and filled with spam). This site's domain whois was falsified so we reported it to the site mentioned above that controls the registration of domain names and within 15 days the site was down. It came back up a few weeks later with the correct owners name on the domain whois.
We sent a DMCA report to the Host of the site and while they took the article down initially the client claimed it was his so the host had to put it back up. We were informed we needed to send in a DMCA report to the host, which we did. Then the ball was in the scraper's court to prove he owned the content or the whole site would be taken down. He couldn't do it of course so the website was taken down and has never reappeared.
Example 4: Stolen Content - Home PageAnother client had the main text of their home page copied and posted on another site that claimed to be reviewing websites. They posted it on 13 of their pages with each page focusing on another keyword. There were not only no reviews but also no links to my client's site. We found this stolen content when we noticed the site had lost all PR and had disappeared from Google's index and then searched for original text from the website in quotes and found the site with the stolen content.
We tried to contact the owner but all emails bounced. We wrote a Google Spam Report and all other engines listing this site. We then contacted the Host and they required a DMCA report which we sent (we also sent one to Google). Within 2 weeks the thief's website had totally disappeared from google's index and Google's index of the client site returned to normal and PR also. It took a few months for the keyword rank to come back, however.
NOTE: Google's claim that there is nothing a competitor can do to affect your ranking is not true as is evidenced by the above examples.
Example 5: Stolen DomainAnother example of stolen content is when you hire someone to build your site and your web designer puts your domain into their name and you end up (unknowingly) paying for a domain you don't even own. They are also using your content to feather their own nest and making you pay for it too. If you decide you want to extricate that domain from your web designer's clutches it can take months to get this resolved.
Establishing Your Proof of OwnershipI would encourage anyone who needs proof they own copyrighted articles, who can't afford to purchase multiple registered copyrights from the US copyright office, to post them in a newsletter somewhere that provides a date. Be sure you have no relationship with the owner, i.e., not owned by a relative or a friend, etc., so it will be a valid unbiased third party.
If you just post it on your own website that is not enough proof (your word against theirs). If you intend to allow the article to be posted elsewhere on the Internet do not post it on your own site or you may be tagged with a duplicate content penalty by the search engines. If you don't intend to post it anywhere but your own site then post it on your site and get a copy of Google's Cache with a date on it as soon as it's spidered (make a copy with your browser) and also print it out as well as the code. This is also effective 3rd party proof of when it was first published.
You can also write the article, seal it in an envelope and pay for Special Delivery via the post office and send it to yourself and don't open until needed, but this will only work if you have to appear in court to prove ownership and may not be sufficient proof then either. You can also take the printed copy to a notary public and have it notarized in case you need it in court some day.
Testimonies From Those Having Content StolenI occasionally advise clients who have had their copyrighted content stolen and inform them what they can do about it:
"Dear LoriAlso see Testimonies re Hijacking Web Pages
Just a note of thanks to say I really appreciate all your advice and help you have been giving me. You are a kind and caring person and a real teacher and mentor.
Best Regards: Rod Bird" Redwood Bridges
Copyright © Feb. 2004, last update 10-26-15
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More information on Copyright Infringement and Content TheftA discussion on Blatant Content Stealing