I’m being robbed, friends. A couple of people (or maybe one person with a few blogs) has been copying every post I’ve written since coming back on the blogging scene this summer. Every. Single. Post. Words that I’ve worked hard to put together in coherent sentences in the small pockets of free time that I have as a stay-at-home mama with two small children. Word that I’ve shared from my heart to be read by you on this blog, not to be covertly taken and posted by somebody else.
Apparently I’m not the only one dealing with this right now. I know I’m not the first and, unfortunately, I certainly won’t be the last. I decided to write about this because I think it’s important for everyone to know why it’s necessary to respond and how to do so correctly and graciously.
(Note: I am assuming that if you are reading this post you understand what is considered plagiarism. If not, click the link for a definition.)
Why Respond to Content Theft?
First, it’s a matter of ethics. I own the stuff I write. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of my blog you will see that all content that I post here is protected by the law of Copyright. Meaning, nobody should post or share my written words or images without permission. Short quotes with proper citing and linking back to the original source is fine! Anything more than that is a violation of Copyright and is considered stealing.
As I mentioned before, each post I write takes a lot of time. I could spend my small amounts of free time doing pretty much whatever I want, yet most days I choose to use it to sit down with my laptop and pour my heart out or share something I’ve learned to hopefully bless others. As an internal processor, writing is a lot of work–mentally and physically–for me. But I do it because I enjoy it and feel called to do so.
Finally, it’s a matter of protecting myself from being wrongly accused and penalized for stealing content. Search engines flag duplicate content. Since indexing online content is done automatically using a bot or computer, the search engine won’t always recognize who owns the content and will flag both copies resulting in my blog being ranked lower due to plagiarism that isn’t really there. I don’t want this to happen!
How to Respond to Online Content Theft
- Take a Screenshot – If you find that some of your written work or images have been stolen, the first thing you want to do is take a screenshot of the theft in case you need it for confirmation. I personally haven’t ever been asked for a screenshot of the stolen content, but it never hurts to have it in the event that it is needed.
- Contact Blog Owner – Email the person who owns the blog that contains the stolen content. If you can’t find an email address, leave a comment on the blog post containing the plagiarism. Whenever I contact someone for the first time, I always assume that didn’t realize their action is considered plagiarism and send them a very polite message asking them to take down (or change the format of) their content. In many cases, the person is apologetic and quickly rectifies the problem. However, some people use bots to subscribe to your RSS feed, “scrape” it for content and auto-publish it to another blog, which is what happened to me most recently. In this case, you will have to go a different route.
- Submit DMCA Form to Hosting Provider – In the event that the blog owner ignores your request, you will need to contact their hosting provider and submit a take-down request. The Digital Millinuim Copyrigt Act (DMCA) requires hosting providers and search engines to follow a specific procedure for removing stolen content. You can use the whois domain search to find a blog’s owner and host information in order to submit a take-down request.
- Wait Patiently – This is the hardest part! It can take anywhere from hours to weeks for your request to be processed and your content to be removed from the other blog. In my experience, it is usually just a few days before I receive an email that informs me of what action has been taken to rectify the issue.
I hope these tips are helpful to you in responding to plagiarism. Dealing with online content theft is never fun, but following these steps will ensure that it is a fairly stress-free process. If you still have questions or want more information, feel free to leave me a comment or check out out the following links.
Have you ever had to deal with plagiarism? How did you respond? Share in a comment!