Did Someone Steal Your Content? Here’s What to Do
You’re checking positions for a page you wrote, and you see something that stops you in your tracks…
Another site has taken your content and has claimed it as their own. There’s no link, no byline, nothing. They copied your page and pasted it into their site.
What’s worse, the page is positioned for the keyphrases you targeted.
Unfortunately, content theft happens all the time — even to smaller sites.
Sometimes, it’s because the offender is totally clueless and thinks it’s OK to post your content on their site. They have no idea that stealing content can make their Google positions plummet (thank you, Penguin algorithm!).
Sometimes, it’s because the site owner paid for “original” content and an unscrupulous writer copied your post and sold it as their own.
Sometimes, it’s because someone wants to steal your content (and traffic) because they are too lazy to do things the right way. I had a large SEO agency do this to me.
And sometimes (fortunately, not as often,) someone is doing it to target your site specifically and to hurt your rankings.
Fortunately, you DO have recourse — and there are things you can do.
Here’s what to do if someone steals your content
Best case scenario, all it takes is an email to the site owner that says, “The article originally appeared on my site. You need to take it down.”
The site owner may email you back and beg for forgiveness. Or, you may not hear a peep out of them — but the post magically disappears.
When the above SEO company swiped my article, it took a couple of emails to the CEO to set things right again. But, I got it taken down. (Oddly, the CEO kept insisting he wrote the article, and he only took it down after “agreeing to disagree.” That still irks me to this day.)
So, what happens if your “hey, take it down” email goes into a deep, dark hole and nobody responds?
Fortunately, you have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on your side. This means you can do two things:
You can file a signed DMCA notice with the offending site’s web host. This site helps you track down the host and has an easy-to-use DMCA notice generator. Some hosts may require you to mail this information, while others have an online form.
You can go straight to Google and file a complaint. Google is typically very responsive and will sometimes respond to DMCA notices the same day (at least, that’s what happened when I’ve had to do it.)
Here’s what the form looks like — and you have the option of choosing, “I have found content that may violate my content” on another page:
If you’re short on time, there are also companies that will handle this for you. You can Google [DMCA takedown companies] for a list.
Know this process can be extremely time-consuming. It takes a long time to research URLs, to make a list of offending pages, and to submit notices.
Plus, the process is like playing wack-a-mole. You may “beat” one content thief, just to have another pop up in its place.
That’s why some people choose not to bother with it unless the stolen content is out-positioning theirs.
The good news is, it’s extremely fun to see stolen content disappear from Google’s search index. And oh-so-satisfying when it’s gone.
What about you?
Have you had someone steal your content? What did you do? Is it still there? Hit “reply” and let me know!
I have had this happen. Since I don’t derive any income from my blog, I merely posted a comment about the plagiarism being unethical. The site owner must not have bothered with reviewing feedback because the comment wasn’t deleted.
I know there are plagiarism checkers that you can copy-and-paste content into. I wonder whether there’s a service that will look for sites that duplicate chunks of my blog or of the site I manage.
@Richard — I’m laughing at the site owner not deleting your “you stole my content” comment. How funny!
I think Copyscape (via Copysentry) does what you’re looking for. It’s a little pricey if you go over 10 pages, but it could be worth it for super-important content. Let me know how it goes!
Thanks for sharing it, it’s really informative. My work have been copied by someone else and it’s kinda sad because they didn’t ask for permission to me. I don’t really know about DMCA because i’m a new blogger
@Haris — ugh, that sounds frustrating! At least you can do something about it — good luck and let me know how it goes!
Thanks for sharing this great information. Filing a complaint in DMCA or in google is a great idea. But please tell me how could I find, if my articles are stolen by someone? Is there have any way to find mirror articles?
Yup, you can use CopyScape — they make it easy. Or you can copy a random sentence from your posts, type it into Google, and see if any other results pop up. That’s the long, slow way to do it…but it works. :)
Yep, this has happened to me too.
A geezer took my bonus content download and remarketed it as his own.
He then wrote a guest post based on my own content for a very well known content writing blog.
It was gut wrenching to see 100s of comments flood in – all telling the perpetrator how awesome he was and thanking him for sharing such a great content resource.
Although I was infuriated, I kept my cool and kept to the facts when I contacted the blog in question.
I got the result I wanted. But the whole episode still makes me nervous. This is mainly because I’ve got a new monster blog post coming out soon. And I ain’t gonna be happy if someone just goes ahead and steals something that took me weeks to deliver.
Wow…just…wow! Sadly, I’m not surprised someone stole your work — you’re a great writer. I AM surprised that a well-known content writing blog uploaded it without confirming it was original content. Ouch. It sounds like you got the stolen content pulled, but not before some damage had been done.
OF COURSE you’re nervous — who wouldn’t be? Especially since it’s happened before. Here’s hoping your next monster blog post isn’t copied, and it sees hundreds of quality comments, shares, and links!
Thanks for posting!
I’ll let you know when I publish that post. The more people that know about, comment on and share it, the clearer it will be that I’m the original source of the content.
I have to keep taking client sabbaticals to work on it. But it should be out in January.
“Client sabbaticals” — I feel your pain. :) Looking forward to it, Kevin!