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Has Someone Stolen Your Content? Here’s What You Can do About it

How to Deal with Stolen Content | What to do When Someone Steals Your Content - Featured Image
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If you’re here, it’s likely, you’re dealing with stolen content. Maybe you’ve gotten your content stolen, you’ve been given stolen content from someone else, you know someone whose gotten their content stolen, or you’re preparing just in case it happens. In this article, we’ll be talking about what to do when someone steals your content.

I remember typing my name into Google one day and scrolling thru the results. I was expecting to see all the hard work I’d done and what ranked for my name, and shockingly, I’d found someone who had copied my books (covers, text, sales pages, and everything), and they’d uploaded them for sale on sites I hadn’t authorized.

They also made book trailors on Youtube that drove customers to the sites where the books were sold. I was shocked and I knew I had to do something, but at that time, I hadn’t been prepared because I didn’t expect something like that to happen to me.

It’s unfortunate, but I’ve been online long enough to notice that content theft is a common legal violation online. It’s happened to me and many others. It’s referred to by terms like:

  • Content spinning
  • Content copying
  • Plagiarism
  • Or, stealing content

But, in essence, it’s all the same thing. In this article, we’ll be talking about:

  • What is content theft
  • How to prevent it
  • and How to get justice when it’s happened

If that’s what you’re looking for, let’s jump right in!

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this article should not be substituted for custom legal advice. If you have a problem of copied content and you want specific advice on your situation, you should seek a lawyer.

What is Content Theft?

When a creator makes an article, video, audio, course, graphic, piece of artwork, or other form content, and someone else duplicates what they’ve done and places it somewhere else without authorization or proper attribution, it can be referred to as “content theft”.

Ideas and content are property just like real estate and physical property. In fact, ideas and creative property is called “Intellectual property”. To formally protect the property, you can purchase a trademark, copyright, or patent: dependent on what the property is.

The person that originates the creation should legally have the rights to the property unless they sell the rights to someone else or authorize the use.

Why People Steal Content?

Content is stolen for many reasons.

  • Many people are unaware of the amount of effort that creators put into their work
  • They may underestimate the amount of creativity, time, and physical work it takes to make an original piece
  • They may be looking for personal gain and don’t want to invest the effort to create original content of their own
  • They may not know the damages it can cause you by copying your content
  • They may not have realized how intellectual property should be treated and the process they should take for use

Regardless of the reasons, it’s quite common, and if you deal a lot with content, then it’s in your best interest to know about how to deal with copyright infringement, people stealing or misusing your work, and protocols to protect intellectual property.

How to Find Scraped Content on Your Site?

At times, I’ve seen people who buy a website that’s already operating, and later, they find out they’ve bought a site that has “scraped content” or copied content. It can be gut-wrenching.

It’s important to make sure that if you buy something like a website or a business with intellectual property, that you verify the uniqueness of the content you’re acquiring.

You can use software to help identify whether content is original or not, but it takes time to screen carefully–that’s why it’s important to take your time and do thorough investigation when acquiring a running website or business.

How to Make Sure Contractors or Employees you Hire Don’t Give you Copied Content?

One way I’ve seen site owners run into copied content is when they’ve hired help to create content for their sites. They may assign the article to a writer they’ve hired, and when they receive the article, they realize, it’s been copied.

It’s important that if you hire content creators, you know how to identify originals versus copies, or you have a process to thoroughly screen the content that’s submitted to you.

Contractors can’t be managed like employees. You simply have to do research and look at their portfolios before working with them.

For employees, you have more control. You can use software to verify employees activity, have a probation period before sending them off without much management.

For either contractors or employees, you can use software to screen and ensure the content you receive is original.

What Software Can You Use to Identify Copied Content?

If you want to make sure to avoid copied content, there are some great software programs out there that can help. Some of the software you should check out are:

1. Copyscape

Copyscape is a premium site that will search the web and tell you what sites are reposting your content.

2. Google Alerts

With Google Alerts, you can enter a portion of your website and set up alerts to be notified daily, weekly, or monthly. They will send you reports about websites who post content like what you have.

How do you report stolen content?

If you’ve discovered that your content has been copied and placed somewhere you haven’t authorized, you can report it. Some best practices are to:

1. Try to find contact info for the site owner and contact them

You can use the Contact page, sign up to a mailing list, or try to find the contact information for the site owner. When you contact the site owner, you can use a cease and desist letter that basically states:

  • Your name and address
  • The recipient’s name and address
  • Demands the recipient to stop using your property
  • and Send it via mail with a return requested

2. Reach out to their Web Host

In some instances, the violator will ignore your messages. At this point, you may have to escalate things a little more by going to their web host.

You can use the WHOIS database to find out who is hosting the website in violation. Once you find out who the host is, you can reach out to them, and inform them of the site that’s copied your content.

They have several ways of handling copied content, but they may completely take the site down for doing that.

3. File a DMCA Complaint

If someone is getting Google rankings as a result of your content, you can file a DMCA complaint. Google will review your complaint, and if they’ve noticed the violation is valid, they will remove the site from the rankings.

If they are using Google ads to make a profit from your content, they can ban the ads account and the user who made it. They take stolen content very seriously.

Considering that Google owns Youtube, the policy there is very similar. If you have a video that’s uploaded to a channel without your permission or parts are edited and stolen from you, you can report copyright infringement right within youtube or use the website here to file a DMCA takedown request for any of the Google services.

4. Contact an Intellectual Property Lawyer

If you’re reputation or property is at risk and there’s potential it can cause considerable harm, you may need to contact an intellectual property lawyer to help you, or even represent you in a court setting.

When to Use a Cease and Desist Order?

According to LegalNature, they’ve said, it’s best to use a Cease and Desist order in cases of Harassment or Intellectual Property Infringement. If someone is approaching you in a way that you don’t appreciate it or using your property in an unauthorized way, you can send a Cease and Desist letter as a warning to stop.

How to Prevent People from Stealing Your Content?

There are plugins and add-ons that can prevent people from being able to right click to copy your content. These can be useful, but it can also be irritating for those who want to share your work with proper attributions, so I don’t personally use those types of tools.

1. Add a Copyright Notice

You can add copyright notices and intellectual property notices on your website, so people are aware that you value your content and you will enforce mishandling of it.

2. You can also make it clear how you like to be attributed

You can write a statement on your copyright notice that explains how you like to be attributed when your content is used.

3. Make it clear how you like to be contacted

It’s much easier to request your permission if it’s clear how to contact you, and you’re responsive. As a result, it’s best to have a “Contact” page or somewhere it’s obvious you can be contacted for information or requests.

4. Make Sure Your Webmaster Tools are Set up

Webmaster tools is where you can regulate what content is indexed in Google (or Bing), what’s not, and manage what information they’ve filed for search user’s access from your website. They can use Webmaster tools to validate where content was published first, so it’s important to submit a sitemap and make sure your articles are being indexed.

Recommended Resources:

When to Fight Legally about Stolen Content?

If you’ve contacted the site owner, contacted the hosting company, and tried to handle the matter, but the violator is still using your content, or if you’re incurring damages as a result of the violator, you may want to get legal intervention. 

Someone using intellectual property inappropriately can cause damage to your reputation or perceived value of your brand: you could be losing sales because they’re stealing your property, maybe someone may think you support something you don’t, the violator may be earning money based on your reputation, or other damages can be caused.

In cases where you’re at risk, you may need to fight legally to get justice.

Conclusion on How to Deal with Stolen Content

It’s unfortunate that people are out there stealing, spinning, and copying content, but it’s fairly common. I’m hoping this article helped you to feel armed and confident about how to handle situations like that.

Now, you should know what to do if someone steals your content and you can share this insight with friends as well. If you have questions about this, leave them in the comments section below.

Need More Help Dealing with Stolen Content? Start Here

Rocket Lawyer

If you're looking for legal consultation or a form creator to help you make cease and desist orders or understand what you can do, Rocket Lawyer may be a great option for you.

Wealthy Affiliate

If you're looking to learn how to create sitemaps, how to operate webmaster tools, and other digital marketing skills so you can build an online business, Wealthy Affiliate is a great platform for that.

Udemy

If you want to learn more about trademark, copyright, and patents including how to use them, how to enforce them, and how to register them, Udemy has high-rated courses made by lawyers to help.

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