Earlier this week, I posted about another website that copied an article I wrote word for word and changed the byline to their CEO (read the post here). I’m happy to report that the page has been taken down by the site owner.
I filed a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation notice with the web host. Within 6 hours of sending the complaint, the web host wrote back that they have requested the site owner to bring the page down and if not down within 24 hours, the site will be suspended. That did it as the page was removed.
This incident is not a remote experience. I’m sure many writers and web publishers out there are aghast that their content and writings are showing up on the Web without attribution to them, or worse, claimed by another person as theirs.
As a site that accepts article contributions, I’ve seen instances where the same exact article is submitted for publication by 2 different authors. I even published an article contribution that turned out to be stolen from a subscriber. Upon receipt of the newsletter, the subscriber sent in a copy the page of his book where the same exact article came from. I apologized to the writer and changed the byline to him (the writer then went after the plagiarist).
So how can content publishers protect themselves from intellectual property thieves? My advice is to uphold your rights and fight content thievery with available tools.
Until there is a fool-proof way to prevent anyone from copying your content, the DMCA is your best friend and the best route to take. File first with the site’s web host. Send the search engines especially Google the DMCA complaint. The web host typically acts fast with this type of abuse and will either take down the page immediately or contact you that they have given notice to the site. Google takes about 2 weeks to respond, and they will remove the page from their database.
Here are the steps you need to take to file a DMCA complaint:
1. Contact the site owner first and let them know that they are using your content without your authorization or consent. Request them to take down the page. Give them 24 hours or so. If they do not comply, file the DMCA complaint.
2. Prepare your DMCA complaint.
3. Check the web host of the plagiarist. You can either go to WhoIs database and check the technical and administrative contacts, or use the Tracert function in your PC’s Command Prompt. Check with the host listed as the technical contact – sometimes they are simply the domain registrar or the site may just have moved into a new host and the WhoIs entry has not been changed. My experience is that tech support folks are typically very helpful when they know you are filing a DMCA complaint and they will even help you identify who is the right webhost of the site.
4. Submit your DMCA complaint. Most webhosts accept DMCA submissions through an email to their abuse department. Search engines, however, are more stringent and requires you to either mail or fax the DMCA complaint. Send your complaint to:
Google, Inc. Attn: Google Legal Support DMCA Complaints
1600 Amphitheatre ParkwayMountain View, CA 94043
OR fax to: (650) 963-3255, Attn: Google Legal Support, DMCA Complaints
5. If the site is using Google Adsense, send the DMCA complaint to the Adsense team as well. Repeat offenders can have their account terminated.