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. Bloggers need to learn the steps that they can take to make sure their content doesn't get boosted and what to do if it does.
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 on my website. 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. However; I had not granted them permission. I have a policy on my blog and I highly suggest that you add one to yours as well. This lets 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."
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 in this instance.
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!
Now when you search for "How to create the perfect post" you see a notice at the bottom of the Google search. Score one for the good guys.
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.
So, what do you need to do to protect your blog content?
1. Create a reposting or permission page on your blog.
2. Check your linkbacks to your blog to make sure your content isn't being taken without your permission.
3. 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 have to but, if you do please file a takedown notice with Google.
Have you dealt with content theft from your website? How have you handled it?