Combating Content Theft

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One of the things I’ve learned about search engine optimization is that search engines such as Yahoo and Google really like unique content. The more unique content you write, the more the search engines will reward you with better placement in their rankings, obviously driving more traffic to your site. Sometimes when unique content is written, others steal it, either trying to pass it off as their own or because they are lazy and want to put up information but don’t feel like writing their own content.
Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in the later. There are people stealing (or borrowing) from various domain blogs and posting either full posts or posting partial posts without adding their own commentary and without seeking permission. While I don’t mind if someone quotes me for the sake of writing an informative blog post, I do mind when people just take my content without even asking.
When I notice this, I do my best to contact the domain owner via Whois lookup to let them know I have an issue. I don’t want them to gain rankings in Google at my blog’s peril. More often than not, the offending person apologizes and takes down my content. However, there are times when the offender has Whois privacy on their domain name and doesn’t have their contact information readily available. This is annoying, and through a hosting company, I found out a way to stop it.
If a website steals content and you either can’t get in touch with the owner or the owner refuses to take down the material, you can file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint with the host, and the host legally has to take action within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. The one caveat is that you need to file an official complaint. It’s not difficult though, and you don’t need an attorney to do it for you, as there are several DMCA complaint templates available online at no cost. Simply find out the web host and email them your complaint.   The issue should be resolved fairly quickly.

1 COMMENT

  1. Elliot, thanks for the tip. I thought there was something like this, but was not 100% sure. This page is getting bookmarked by me!
    Though I don’t think it’s as big of a deal anymore. Yes it still bothers you when someone steals your content. However assuming your blog has traffic (which it does) and Google finds your site with the content first – from my understanding Google stores the original author of the content. So the first time Google sees a page, they are saying “this is the official version of this content”. When subsequent sites steal that content and Google sees the duplicate content – they automatically throw out that other page. Now if the other guy gets his content indexed first, I’m not sure how it works. I would hope this has to do with Backlinks to the two pages in question too, but I’ve never heard indication of that.

  2. Elliot,
    A lot of these people use completely automated version of wordpress and scripts to steal content. When we find them on our networks, we ask them to take the content down within 24 hours or we’ll terminate their account.
    It should be noted that the DMCA applies to the USA only. You will find that a lot of these ‘content spinners’ will host in places like panama, china etc to avoid the DMCA issues.
    – Richard

  3. A great tool we use to find all instances of infringers of our copyrighted content is http://www.copyscape.com. We screen this daily or weekly and have cease & desist letters ready to go. 99% of the time, people take the content down but then there are the International folks who just don’t care. It does look like Google has the original content creator (only if indexed) stored but we have had some instances go the other way. Then it is on to DMCA.

  4. I’m sorry to hear that this has been happening to you but it sounds as if you have the right approach for this. However, don’t forget about the ability to send search engines DMCA notices should the host be uncooperative. It at least removes the site from the indexes.
    If you have a stubborn case or need some help, let me know. I’ll gladly do what I can to assist!

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