IT’S AN ENTREPRENEUR’S NIGHTMARE TO FIND THEIR CONTENT BLATANTLY BEING USED ON ANOTHER WEBSITE WITHOUT PERMISSION.
When someone steals your stuff, whether it’s your copyrighted content (articles and blog posts, images and photographs) or your company’s trademarked property (company name, logo, tag line), it’s called INFRINGEMENT and it’s illegal. Sadly, however, it seems to have become a rite of passage to have your content stolen and re-posted on another site. But what are you supposed to do in order to find and remove stolen content?
First of all… stay calm. It happens often and you are not alone. You are also not helpless. If you are certain that the stolen content is a direct copy of your original work of authorship, or a slightly-revised-to-try-to-make-it-look-original copy, you have recourse. It is possible to have the content removed.
- Send a cease and desist letter as your first offensive action. Obtain the contact information for the owner of the website, which is available in the navigation bar or footer section of most sites. Write to them directly and tell them they are in violation of your copyright or trademark and to remove the content immediately. Provide them with the URL on which you found the content so they know exactly what you’re referring to. Make it clear that you are prepared to take further (legal) action if the content is not removed immediately.
- If your stolen content resides as an article on an article-sharing website, contact that website’s administrators and inform them of the infringement. Provide them with the URL to the stolen content and the URL to the original content, presumably on your website or on another article-sharing site. Administrators of article-sharing websites are usually quick to remove stolen content.
- If the content appears on someone else’s site, and the owner of the infringing website fails to remove the content, your next course of action will be to contact that website’s hosting service (the hosting platform on which the website resides). You can find out this information by going to whoisholdtingthis.com and entering the URL on which your content has been posted without your authorization.
- Use the information you obtain in #3 to contact the hosting company and notify them that a website on their platform is using your stolen content. This is called a DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE and hosting companies are required by law to shutdown a website containing content deemed to be stolen until the content is removed. A DMCA (Digital Millennium Takedown Act) notice must include a link to the infringing content and the date it was published, a link to the original content and the date of publication, as well as a statement by you that clearly states you are the original author, photographer, designer/creator of the content in question.
- Go to Google. This is a more complex process and if you deem it to be necessary, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to help you with this. The process begins with filing a DMCA complaint with Google, a US company and therefore required to be compliant with DMCA law. Start HERE and search under help for “filing DMCA notice.” This article may also help.
Check out my DIY Legal Toolkit for more information on how to protect your content and all aspects of your business. It also includes a sample DMCA takedown notice.