To my knowledge1, my content has never been stolen and posted with attribution to someone else. However, a Twitter friend recently retweeted a message from another crafty blogger who found her tutorial and photos copied in their entirety on a blog full of egregious violations of copyright.
Luckily, thanks to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), US bloggers have a clear recourse to having their stolen content removed. Unluckily, DMCA claims can be made only by the copyright holder2 and relies on the copyright holder knowing that their content has been stolen. Bloggers in other countries may have some recourse as well (such as the EU’s EUCD), but you’ll need to research your own laws.
What not to do
Don’t write a rant about the site and provide links to the offending content from your own blog, on social networking sites, Twitter, etc. You can mention the blog by name, but links can unintentionally help the blog get traffic and importance in search engines. Don’t give them any advantage in drawing viewers to the stolen content.
Step 1: try to resolve it by contacting the blog owner
A little courtesy can sometimes go a long way, even if undeserved civility is the last thing on your mind. First, cool down. Step away, get a level head. Then, write a calm, succinct email or comment on the blog post stating that you own the copyright on the content and that you have not provided permission for the content to be posted on the offender’s site. State that you do not give your permission and that they need to remove the content immediately. Give them 24 hours—maybe even 48 if you are feeling charitable. If you have not heard back and the content is still up, then proceed with the following.
Step 2: send a DMCA Notice to the web host
If the offender refuses to remove your content, doesn’t respond, or there is no way of contacting them, the next step is to contact their web host and ask for the content to be removed. How to do that can vary widely, based on the type of blog or site and where it is hosted. Remember, you need to send the notice to the offending blog’s host not your own. (So, if the stolen content is on Blogger, but you’re on WordPress, report to Blogger.)
For blogs on popular hosted services (Blogger, WordPress.com, LiveJournal, etc…)
Each of the big blog services have their own methods, but they also have explicit instructions available.
Blogger Digital Millennium Copyright Act – Blogger (Google)
WordPress.com Stolen Content FAQ (Note, this is only for WordPress.com sites, not for sites run on the WordPress software but hosted at a different domain.)
LiveJournal Copyright Infringement Information
Almost all other reputable blog-hosting services will have information about submitting a DMCA notice in their FAQs or in a link in the footer titled something like “Copyright”. Head to the hosting service’s home page and look for that information to find out how to submit your request.
For blogs hosted on their own domain
If a blog has its own domain (like this one), it is a little trickier. You need to figure out what company hosts the site, and then file a DMCA Notice with that company.
Find out who hosts the site
WhoIsHostingThis.com is a quick and easy way to find out who is hosting a site. Simply visit them, and type the domain into the search box, then press “search”. They even provide links to the host.3
Find out who to submit the DMCA notice to
This part can be a little tricky, because the info is usually buried deep inside the FAQs or Help Center on the host’s site. Search for “DMCA” if you can find a search box. When in doubt, contact their customer service. Some companies have their own online form that will allow you to submit a notice very easily. Others have a specific email address or number to fax your notice to.
Send your DMCA notice
Use whatever method the host requests to submit your notice. If they provide an online form or a printable form, use those. If not, send an email, letter or fax to the company containing the following information.
- A link to your post or posts that have been cloned or copied on the other site. Include a list of all stolen content and provide URLs for where it appears on your own site.
- A link to the offending post, or a list of links to all offending items on the blog (in the case of photos or multiple posts). List everything and provide the permalink (so, badblog.com/2010/04/03/stolen-post-page.html, not just badblog.com). Provide the url for all photos. You can get those by right-clicking on the photo and selecting “Copy Image URL” (or similar verbiage).
- A statement that you—as the owner of the copyright—have not provided authorization for its use on the offending site.
- A statement, under penalty of perjury, that all information you have provided is accurate to your best knowledge and that you are the copyright holder of the content.
- Sign a faxed or mailed document, or make sure to provide your full legal first and last names in an email or form. This is not a case where you can be anonymous or try to protect your privacy. If you are not willing to attribute your legal name to the content in the DMCA Notice for fear of privacy or desire to be anonymous, you’re going to need to talk to a lawyer.
- Provide your contact information—at bare minimum an email address if you send the notice by email or contact form, a phone number and mailing address also for any other type of submission. It is best to provide as much as possible regardless of how you submit the notice.
What if I can’t find a way to request that the content be removed
Unfortunately, if you’ve exhausted the above methods and still haven’t been able to have your stolen content removed, your only remaining option is to hire a professional—in this case a lawyer with some experience in copyright and intellectual property law. Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and am providing this information with the disclaimer as such. I am not liable for consequences of your use of this information.
What to do when you find someone else’s stolen content
Please tell the original publisher! If you know the original publisher of the content, let them know their content was stolen (make sure to provide a link). As I mentioned earlier, DMCA violations can only be reported by the copyright holder. Earn some goodwill and karma and all that jazz.
Want to learn more, including how to show that you have copyright? Head over to Part Two: Proving that Stolen Content is Yours.
- It’s quite possible that it’s happened and I haven’t yet found it. In fact, just the other day, I found an inbound link to an old post from a spanish site that included one of my illustrations. Because they linked to my post, I decided to implicitly give my permission for its use. ↑
- Or their authorized agent, generally a lawyer. ↑
- If you search for this domain, you’ll find I’m hosted by 1&1 Web Hosting. They aren’t amazing, but they’re cheap and have treated me well enough for the past few years. Their DMCA notice information can be found here. ↑