How To Handle Stolen Content
No matter how much we like to believe in other people, the fact is that every now and then some of our content will get stolen.
Whether we realize it or not, this is simply how the Internet is set up. Stealing something and then pretending to be the owner is very easy. Essentially, one just has to click Ctrl+C and then Ctrl+V. All there is to it.
If someone steals a short article of yours, then the thing is not so tragic, but if a whole series of articles gets republished with no attribution, or maybe even a product of yours (like an e-book, for example) gets stolen, rebranded and then sold by someone else then it’s no longer funny.
How to Protect Yourself Against Content Theft
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as protecting yourself against content theft. If someone really wants to steal your content they will, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it.
What you can do, however, is make your life easier when searching for stolen content and when you decide to eventually go after the thief.
How Copyscape Can Help You
Copyscape is where you can start your crusade against content thieves. Basically, it’s a service that helps you to find your content, in case it’s been republished somewhere on the internet, and then gives you hints on how to get it down.
You can either use the search function on Copyscape, but this requires you to check each of your pages individually, which will naturally take some serious time. Or you can take advantage of the Copysentry service that scans the web automatically, and informs you whenever a new copy of your content’s been found.
There’s also Copyscape Premium that lets you scan the content you get from other people and tells you whether it’s genuine or has been stolen from somewhere else. This will make sure that you don’t end up being the one punished by Google for publishing duplicate content, and eventually from getting into all sorts of other trouble.
Fighting the Thieves
If your content does get stolen and you find the person who stole it (or their site) then you can start going after the thief.
The firs thing to do is get the email address of the person who either runs the site or owns the domain. You can do it through a who-is lookup or a Google search, sometimes even by looking at the site and finding an email address mentioned there.
What you do is start by sending an email to that address asking for the content to be taken down, and making it clear that you’re ready to take legal steps if ignored.
If the person doesn’t respond (which is usually the case) you can pursue people who stand above the thief, so to speak – companies like: their domain registrar, webhost, and affiliate network through which they’re doing their business.
What to do with these companies is to file a subpoena, and ask them to give you the information about the thief. However, keep in mind, this is where it starts to cost you money, so go after the thief only if you find it worth the effort (consult an attorney first).
Once you get the thief’s data you can contact them individually and ask them to take down the content. If they don’t respond the only thing left to do is file a lawsuit.
If you do so, depending on the location you’re based, it can cost you a lot of money, so you need to make sure that this is indeed worth the effort.
In most cases, if someone is just stealing your posts then taking legal steps isn’t the best “investment,” but if they’re stealing your products and then reselling them to other audiences then it’s a different story.
Remember that we’re not giving any legal advice here. Always consult your attorney before taking any legal steps or spending any money on subpoenas.
Do you have any experience with content thieves? Feel free to share.