Stop Thief! How You Can Fight Back Against Online Plagiarism
It’s ironic that this article about plagiarism will probably be stolen and illegally published on many websites across the world! That’s the nature of the web, but can you do anything about it? How can you fight back?
This article provides you with some tactics and actions to get back at content thieves who are abusing the web and copyright laws.
Why do people steal content?
The number one reason that people steal online content is so they can make money from advertising. They will take your article and put it on a
Content is expensive and
Who is stealing the content?
The majority of thieves are amateurs who are trying to earn a bit of cash on the side. They use such simple, cheap website creation tools as Blogger, TypePad, Homestead or Moonfruit to quickly create websites that they populate with content they cut and paste from sites around the Internet. Or, easier still, they take RSS feeds from sites and have the content automatically delivered to their new sites.
Whilst most the thieves are amateurs, they are not the biggest problem.
The sums of money that can now be earned from online advertising have attracted the attention of far more
These professional content thieves don’t care what they are stealing and from whom (although they avoid
What content gets stolen?
Anything and everything! Sometimes whole sites are stolen and recreated with a new domain name.
The most commonly stolen stuff is short text articles, such as blog posts. There are thousands of them, many of which are distributed via RSS. They are perfect for driving targeted traffic and thus ad clicks.
Next are images. Why? Because they are difficult and expensive to create, yet very easy to steal. Many image thieves actually leave the pictures on the original server and link to them so they don’t have to foot the bill for hosting!
Some distance behind these two content types
How do you find your stolen content?
If you want to find out whether your articles have been copied, the cheapest and easiest way to do it is to copy and paste a unique line from the article into several search engines – try Google, Yahoo and Ask. There is a good chance that if that line appears verbatim on another site it will be found.
Alternatively, there is a dedicated service that can help, called Copyscape (www.copyscape.com). You can use a restricted but effective version for free, and if you like what you see, you can pay a nominal amount for the premium service. Copyscape looks for copies of all your website content across the web.
Searching for stolen images is much harder. The easiest technique is to give every image a distinctive and unique file name. Thieves usually don’t bother changing the file name, so you can undertake a search using Google Image search to locate pinched pictures.
The only other way is to ask your loyal visitors to notify you if they see any of your content published on other websites. They can be your team of
Fighting back! How to get content thieves to remove your content
So here are seven tactics you can use to pursue and outwit the thief:
Tactic #1 – Ask them to remove your content. If you can find out who runs the website on which the stolen content appears and you can find
Tactic #2 – Cease and desist letter. If your first request receives no response and the content remains on the website, you can step up the pressure by sending them a cease and desist letter. I recommend sending an email and a physical letter (if you can find a postal address). You can often find this information out by doing a Whois search (try www.nominet.org.uk for .co.uk domains or www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp for .com/.net domains). A cease and desist letter is often enough to scare the amateur thief. However, it is unlikely to deter the professional gang.
Tactic #3 – Do some research to find out who is hosting the website. You can find this out by doing a Whois search (try www.nominet.org.uk for .co.uk domains or www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp for .com/.net domains). In the US under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) and the UK under the European Union Copyright Directive (2003), you can contact the hosting company, explain that the site is breaching your copyright and request that the site
Tactic #4 – Report the site to its advertisers. As mentioned above, most stolen content is used to drive traffic to pages with adverts so the website owner can make money from advertising. Most of these websites use Google AdSense because it is very easy to set up. In the AdSense terms and conditions, as with those of most reputable ad networks, it is very clear that ads must not be served against stolen content. Send the advertisers copies of the cease and desist letters that you have forwarded to the offending webmaster. If the website loses its ability to serve ads, it will have lost its reason to exist.
Tactic #5 – Report the site to the major search engines. Content sites without traffic from the major search engines are like fish without water. Without the oxygen of free
How to send notification to the search engines: http://www.seologic.com/faq/dmca-notifications.php
Tactic #6 – Take them to court. If your content is registered as copy-protected material, you can file a lawsuit against the thief. You’ll need to take expert legal advice before going down this route.
Content theft is a growing problem on the web, and it is difficult to see how it will ever be prevented. If you find yourself a victim and you want to take action against the thief or thieves, use the tactics outlined above. They can be effective deterrents against the majority of amateur content thieves. Don’t do anything illegal in your pursuit or it could be you who ends up the wrong side of the law.
Useful articles and websites:
Detailed article about dealing with content theft: http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/04/10/what-do-you-do-when-someone-steals-your-content/
Site dedicated to dealing with content plagiarism: www.plagiarismtoday.com
Useful Resource to Detect Copyright Theft
The Copyscape website helps you detect thefts of your articles. You simply insert your URL into the Copyscape search box and it scans the web to see if any of your articles are published on other websites. You can then go through the search results and look at the sites it has identified. If you have been publishing online for some time you