Bloggie Wednesday: What To Do When Someone Steals Your Blog Content

Bloggie Wednesday: What To Do When Someone Steals Your Blog Content

© elhombredenegro

Picture this: you’ve spent a crazy amount of time creating beautiful blog posts for your blog. A lot of time goes into taking photographs, editing the images, researching and writing. You’re pretty damn proud of your blog and so you should be.

Then you receive an email from a reader that she found several of your articles (including the photographs) on another website. These were republished without your permission. They may or may not have credited you for the articles but at the end of the day, it was published on another website without your consent.

WHAT THE @^%$^#*!@#???!!!

May I just say, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt? ;)

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence amongst bloggers and content creators. There are websites that claim to trawl the Internet for the “best content”, lift the content, curate them and put it on their sites. You might think “but it’s a link back to me. Isn’t that a good thing?“. Genuine, organic link backs are good. This is just plain doggone thievery.

You may also see a lot of sites like this that have advertisements from Google Adsense peppered all over the page. What they’re doing is earning money off YOUR content. Are these the sort of links you want when other people aren’t just taking your content (along with all that hard work you’ve put in), they’re making money off you as well?

You may also notice that every time you post something new, these websites display your latest posts as well. How does this happen? What they do is they have your RSS feed linked to their platform. This means that whenever you publish something new, they publish it too.

It’s frustrating as hell and I get it. I’ve seen my content copied and pasted in many spam websites. It’s bloody infuriating but you can do something about it. Here are a few ways I’ve found that helped me:

1. Contact the web adminstrator.

If there’s a Contact Me page, send them a polite but firm email telling them that they’ve used your content without your permission. Don’t just tell them to take it down. Give them a deadline and what will be done if it’s not met. E.g. “please take it down within the next 5 business days [insert deadline] or I shall proceed to take legal action against you.” Tough, but it works.

2. Contact the webhost

Sometimes, there isn’t a Contact Me page on the website. This is when I know that the website is really dodgy when there’s absolutely no way I can reach the owner of the website. This is when I’ll contact the website’s webhost. Do a WHOIS search on the website (try WHOIS.com) and you’ll see who the domain registrar and webhost are. Contact the webhost instead and inform them that the website (give them the URL) has stolen your content. Most if not all webhosts have it in their Terms and Conditions that the content in each website must be genuine and not stolen. The webhost will usually take action against the website and pull it down.

Bloggie Wednesday: What To Do When Someone Steals Your Blog Content

© Insider Shop

3. File a DMCA takedown notice

A DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a US copyright law that makes production and dissemination of copyrighted work illegal. A DMCA takedown notice is a notification to either a web hosting company or a search engine that they are either hosting or linking to copyright-infringing material. It provides them notice to remove the copyrighted works. Web hosts are required to remove or disable access to the material, while search engines have to stop linking to it.

If your webhost is based in the US, EU countries or any country that has a notice and takedown system, you can lodge a DMCA notice for your stolen content. I did mine with Google as it’s a free service. Having said that, they take a long time to process your notice (at least they did for me) and you do have to fill in a lot of details of the copyright-infringed material.

4. Seek support from your blogging community

Never underestimate what a group of bloggers can do. I’ve seen bloggers helping bloggers spread the word about stolen content and to alert other bloggers who may have their content stolen too. I’ve seen bloggers helping bloggers leave comments on websites or brands’ Facebook pages where content was used without permission. By letting fellow bloggers know that your content has been stolen, the website(s) that stole it, etc, it also helps them check if their content was used without consent.

5. Set up alerts every time your blog is mentioned

Web services like Google Alerts and Mention can help you track down the websites that have mentioned your blog. This is particularly useful when dodgy websites lift your RSS feed and use it as their own (often there’ll be a link back to your site with “to read more, please visit this website blah blah blah“). For some unknown reason, Google Alerts has never worked well for me despite my setting up so many references to Beautyholics Anonymous. They’re also slow in reporting any link backs. I much prefer using Mention.

6. Add an RSS feed footer

If you’re on WordPress, it’s worthwhile downloading the RSS Feed Footer plugin where you can input text and even images in your feed footer. This will appear at the bottom of every post in feed readers like Feedly and email subscriptions. You can write “this post appeared originally on [blog name]” or “if you’re not reading this blog post on [blog name], this means that the content has been stolen“. Something like that. You get the gist.

7. Block the IP address

Some time ago, I was getting track backs from a particular website that lifted my blog content via my RSS feed. I tried contacting the web administrator to no avail. In the end, I went to my website’s cPanel and blocked the IP address of that website that lifted my content. That website stopped publishing my content automatically after that.

These are some of the methods that have worked for me. Perhaps you know of a way to stop dodgy websites and people from stealing your content too. Please let us know in the comments if you do. I’d love to know more.

Don’t be discouraged when you realise your content has been used without your permission. Instead, quickly take action against them and inform your fellow bloggers if you see their content stolen too.

Together, we can nail the bastards. ;)

Source: Who is Hosting This?, Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Bloggie Wednesdays is a series of articles just on blogging. They contain tips, how-tos, discussions about anything and everything you need to know about blogging and how we can be better bloggers. If you have any suggestions, tips and tricks about blogging you would like to share with us, or if you have any questions you would like me to address, please let us know in the comments.

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10 comments… add one

  1. Sara-May

    Some great advice here Tine. There’s nothing worse than finding out your content is being scraped, and apart from the legal-ish and DMCA stuff, I love that you’ve mentioned the power of other bloggers! It’s so important to forge friendships in the blogging community – it means there are a bunch of other people effectively looking out for you!
    Sara-May recently posted..Cool, Calm and Contoured {Express Makeup}My Profile

    1. Tine

      My sentiments exactly. I found that the beauty blogging community had more power in taking down stolen content quicker than filing a DMCA takedown notice, especially when it’s brands using bloggers’ images on their websites/social media sites without the bloggers’ permission. How stupid do those brands think we are that we wouldn’t know if the images were or weren’t taken from other bloggers eh?

  2. Monica P

    Good post! I’m certainly going to book mark for future use.

    Monica.

    1. Tine

      Thanks Monica. Hope you find it useful and never need to use any of the points made. :)

  3. Allison

    Tine, thank you so much for writing this. I bookmarked it. As I mentioned via email to you a couple of months ago, I was able to get the site that stole one of my posts to remove it with a strongly worded email. I was lucky. I was unaware of several of the suggestions you made in this post including the RSS feeder plugin that I will try. There is another creepy site that has stolen my pictures and posted them on their site. I’ve been too lazy to watermark all my pix so I’ve gotta get crackin’ on that…but I think this weirdo would publish them with the watermark. Anyway, thanks again
    Allison recently posted..Milani Anti-Feathering Transparent LiplinerMy Profile

    1. Tine

      It was my pleasure, Allison. Sometimes I don’t watermark my images either. I’ve seen stolen images edited to crop the watermark out; that’s how dodgy the thieves are. Heck, I’ve even seen images stolen from blogs, cropped and used by brands to promote themselves when the images were swatches of products of another brand! That was when a lot of beauty bloggers got together and really gave that brand’s Facebook page a piece of their mind. Needless to say, that brand took the image down pretty quickly but with nary a word of apology. The cheek.

  4. Icaria

    Great post! Been there done that! It was so frustrating and infuriating but I was glad when I saw the site that had stolen one of my posts removed from Wordpress. *fingers crossed* it wont happen again. :)
    Icaria recently posted..Laura Mercier Caviar Stick…My Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Icaria. That’s great news! I love it when these stupid thieving sites are taken down. Do sign up for either Google Alerts or Mention (both are free) to see who links to your blog. It’s another way to catch those RSS feed parasites. Good luck!

  5. Kaye

    Im anxiously waiting for the day where this may happen to me – in a big way that is.

    I’ve been alerted to occasions before where my full posts or images have been used without permission, but nothing too serious. Fingers crossed it never happens and if it does, I can always come back here for your tips :)

    I actually read a post in a bloggers facebook group page recently where I food magazine allegedly copied a bloggers recipe, photo styling and the works without credit. On contacting the editor they obviously denied any copying and it was nothing other than coincidental. It was definitely something to think about. What would you do?
    Kaye recently posted..SensatioNail Australia Has Landed – Full ReviewMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Food recipes is where things get tricky. There has been plenty of news on bloggers allegedly nicking other bloggers’ recipes to pass as their own, food magazines nicking bloggers’ recipes and passing them off as their own, etc. Apparently it’s some sort of grey area where there’s no form of trademarking on recipes (how do you even TM recipes??). Even if the recipes are incredibly similar down to the styling, they’ll just say it’s nothing but a coincidence, even if the original recipe was published by the blogger first. One very popular American food blogger accused one of the previous Masterchef contestants for stealing her recipe from her published book and putting on his blog, down to the words used. He said it was his grandmother’s recipe. She said even word for word? In the end, I have absolutely no idea who won.

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