Have you had your website copy or a blog post stolen?
The more I write, the more often I find my blog posts copied and pasted onto other websites without my permission. And sadly, this has happened to a lot of other writers I know. Even if you’ve been fortunate to not encounter this type of copyright infringement yet, you probably will eventually. So, let’s figure out what to do if your blog post is stolen and republished without your permission.
I came home on Saturday night after a lovely dinner out with my hubby and was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a post with a similar title to one I’d written the week prior. I was curious, so I opened the post. Within a couple of paragraphs, I knew my article had been plagiarized. The article was structured exactly as mine was, with the paragraphs mimicking my outline, content, and main points. Some sentences were copied exactly and many others were nearly the same. The “author”, tried to change it up and signed her name at the bottom.
I was pissed! I worked my ass off writing this post. I’d put in more time and effort than usual and was rewarded by it being the most popular article on Psych Central last week. I definitely felt violated by this blatant theft of my intellectual property. I’ve had many posts stolen in the past. The other posts were usually copied in their entirety, including my name as author, and published elsewhere without my permission. Now, this kind of copyright infringement isn’t cool either. But, I have to tell you that this plagiarism felt like a violation on a whole other level.
Your work is copyrighted
Every piece of original content that you post on your website is copyrighted. You don’t have to do anything special to copyright it.
I like to put “©2017 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved” on the bottom of my blog posts to remind people they are copyrighted, but you don’t have to.
What to do if your blog post is stolen
1) Stay calm! Easier said than done, but as therapists we’ve got an arsenal of tools to use!
2) Take a screen shot. Take a photo of the stolen work just in case you need proof in the future.
3) Contact the author or website owner and kindly request that the stolen content is removed. Generally, it’s easy to find a contact email address or phone number for the website owner, but not always. In this case, the offending party was a substance abuse recovery center and after a lot of digging through their social media accounts, I finally found a general email address, so I used that.
Be polite, but direct with your request. Here’s a sample email asking for removal of a blog post.
Dear Website Owner,
I noticed that you have published my article “You Don’t Get a Childhood When You Grow Up in an Alcoholic Family” on your website. This article is protected under copyright and can’t be republished without permission. I respectfully ask that you remove the article immediately.
4) File a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice. If your first request wasn’t successful, it’s time to up the ante. The DMCA requires website hosting companies to take action on copyright infringement. They take this seriously.
In order to file a DMCA takedown request, you need to find the website hosting company. You can do this with a “Who Is” search on ICANN or Who Is Hosting This or other similar sites. This will usually provide you with the contact information of the person who registered the website (sometimes the contact info is covered by a privacy screen). You can try sending the same email as discussed above to this contact or proceed to the next step.
Many hosting companies have a DMCA takedown form on their site. You might need to dig a bit to find it, though. Alternately, you can send the hosting company an email that contains: your contact information, your signature (digital is OK) as the copyright owner, the link to your original work, the link to the work that infringed your copyright, a statement that your request is in good faith, accurate, and that under penalty of perjury you own the exclusive rights to the infringed material.
In most cases, these steps will resolve the issue of stolen blog posts or website copy. It is frustrating and sometimes time consuming to deal with copyright infringement, but I encourage you to follow through on it. We all work hard on our websites and blog posts and deserve for our work to be respected by its rightful copyright!
And as for my plagiarized blog post, it was removed promptly after I email the website with my complaint.
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©2017 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
This article is not intended to be legal advice. It reflects I how I handled an experience of copyright infringement. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney