What to Do When Someone Steals Your Blog Post

Your Words Have Value!

If you’ve ever found your articles reprinted without your permission — and I’m talking more than what’s considered fair use — then you’ll love today’s article. Ang England explains what scraping is and how to approach a website that’s stealing your content. (Hint: You may be able to turn it into a lucrative opportunity!) Please welcome Angela as this week’s guest blogger and feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts or experiences with content theft. ~ Melanie

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Unfortunately in the blogging world there is one thing we’ll all have to deal with sooner or later — content scraping. This is when someone steals a post or article you wrote and publishes it on their own site.

While this used to have some serious SEO implications, these have been recently minimized by Google in new algorithms that help determine which post was the original and which is the duplicate. However, this content scraping is, quite simply, theft. Theft of your work. Theft of potential readers. And a sign of incredible laziness (or ignorance) on the part of the thief.

Perhaps you discovered the theft in a Google Alert you set up (and you should definitely be doing that), when a friend DM’d or emailed you to say “Hey — isn’t this your post you wrote last month?”, or just by pure happenstance. Whatever the method of discovery, I have some tried-and-true ways of dealing with content thieves you might find useful.

Stay Calm and Be Polite When Dealing with Content Thieves

My initial knee-jerk reaction is usually, “How dare they!?” but this is rarely a useful response. If this is a live human being, it’s probably better to try emailing them or using their website contact form if possible to inform them that you are the copyright holder of the post in question (Be sure to link to which post you are talking about). My initial email or comment usually goes something like this:

“Hi! My name is Angela England and I’m glad you found my article about lavender essential oil useful, however this article is protected by copyright and cannot be republished without permission. You can remit a one-time reprint fee of $XXX via paypal to <my paypal address>. Alternatively, I am available to create an original piece on this topic specifically geared towards your audience for $XX. Otherwise this article needs to be removed within 24 business hours. Thanks so much! “

There are a couple of important things to notice in my sample email above:

  1. I used a statement rather than a question. A question can be answered negatively and legally can be ignored. Had I asked, “Would you mind taking it down?” They could have replied, “Yes I mind”. You must say “This article needs to be removed….”
  2. I invited the content scraper to hire me or pay me. Obviously you can only offer a reprint fee option if that option is available for that particular post. However, I generally charge about $50 more for a reprint fee than I offer for creating an original article for that person. I would rather them hire me to create a new piece than to have duplicate content floating about all over the web. Besides, lots of people don’t realize that blog posts and websites aren’t a free-for-all. Educate them by offering to hire yourself out. This not only creates a potential win/win situation, but also makes it very clear that your words have VALUE and aren’t up for grabs.

Filing a DMCA Complaint Against Content Thieves

One time out of 10 I get a new job when I send that email. One time out of 10 I get a reprint fee paid to me. Five times out of 10 the articles disappear — usually without a single word of acknowledgement to me at all. So what happens the other three times when there is no response, no reply, and most importantly, my article is STILL up there?

Sometimes, especially if it looks like a legitimate website, I will actually just send an invoice via Paypal. In the invoice I price it higher than my initially stated reprint fee (call it a pain-in-the-butt tax), and will include a notice that payment needs to be remitted with 48 business hours or else the stolen article at http://yourthievingwebsite.com/mystolenpost/ needs to be removed. Sometimes this will work, but sometimes it won’t.

If that doesn’t work, you move to filing a DMCA complaint. I usually will do a WHOIS search and find a contact email address and resend my request to that email. I will also contact the host of the site with an official DMCA complaint. And I will contact Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. It’s not hard to fill out the form and it is, in my opinion, important for bloggers and writers to protect their work. The more often content scrapers “get away with it”, the more the problem will continue.

Depending on how much time I have and my feistiness level, I will contact any advertisers on the website as well. All ad networks have rules in place about the type of content that is permissible, and illegally obtained content isn’t usually approved content. Sometimes the ad networks will remove ads before Google gets to the DMCA complaint — either way, mission accomplished. (Usually I only contact a website’s sponsors if someone responds to me with an ignorant email saying something like “But it was on the internet and everyone knows if it’s on Google it’s free to use”.)

I hope this helps you as you battle content thieves and scrapers. Don’t be afraid to contact them and tell them your posts need to be removed. Your words have value and deserve to be respected.

30 Days to Make and Sell a Fabulous Ebook**********

Angela England’s mission is to empower and educate others about blogging, freelance writing, and social media. She is the author of 30 Days to Make and Sell a Fabulous Ebook. You can read more of her helpful articles at AngEngland.com and Untrained Housewife.

59 Responses

  1. techandlife September 26, 2011 / 9:54 am

    I have this problem right now on my site but the solution isn’t easy. There are no contact details or email address on the scraper’s site. And when I do a WHOIS, I find the domain name has been registered by proxy, i.e. there are no contact details for the real owner. Point is, anyone serious about plagiarising content doesn’t give away their contact details easily.
    Anyone any suggestions on how to follow this up?

    • Angela England September 26, 2011 / 11:00 am

      You should be able to still following up with the proxxy contact email – they will forward to the genuine registrar. Also – Google will still blacklist the site and deindex the stolen content with the DMCA filing as well. :-) Been there, done that and it totally sucks.

      OH and if you have the ability to leave a comment on the post, I would leave a comment also. That usually will be forwarded/emailed to the site owner. Something like “This article is a copy of this original copyrighted piece *your url here* and needs to be removed.”

      Sorry you’re having to deal with this – it is VERY frustrating.

      • techandlife September 26, 2011 / 1:18 pm

        Thanks Angela. I was going to try the proxy contact but I’ll do it now – it’s the only route in. Unfortunately comments are closed on all posts.

  2. Annie @ Mama Dweeb September 26, 2011 / 12:36 pm

    This is such helpful information! I am going to bookmark this since I have bloggers ask me multiple times a month what to do about it. Thanks Angela!!

    • June Hollister October 14, 2011 / 8:15 pm

      I agree with you Annie this is such helpful information. I too am going to bookmark this as well since I have blogger.com. Thanks Angela this is great.

  3. Cindy Reed September 26, 2011 / 1:00 pm

    Fabulous article. I am sharing this link with my students, many of whom include integrated blogs on their service websites.

  4. Marybeth @ babygoodbuys.com September 26, 2011 / 1:49 pm

    Fantastic article! Reading the first part I was thinking, “too much work. Invoice, Schminvoice. :) Just file a DCMA and take them down.”

    After reading through all of your suggestions, I found a TON of information that means real action taken against the offending site. I truly appreciate this post!

    • Angela England September 26, 2011 / 8:17 pm

      You be surprised how often someone will actually go ahead and pay that invoice. If you’re willing to sell reprint rights on that post you might actually get paid! OR have the opportunity to educate someone who turns out to be a potential client (assuming they aren’t a total flim-flammer-scaper-site – you KNOW the kind I’m talking about…)

  5. Katie September 26, 2011 / 2:11 pm

    Great article Angela! I am bookmarking this!

  6. Katie September 27, 2011 / 1:01 am

    What if you don’t have a legal copyright registered in the US? To many people, a blog is just a blog, but still should hold rights to what is written as I’ve seen many people get rather creative with their blogs (like Books of Adam[whom I’m sure has taken such precautions]). Can you still pursue the person and demand it get taken down and take legal action if they refuse? I’d figure not.

    • N.V. Binder September 28, 2011 / 2:17 pm

      You don’t have to formally register to be a copyright-holder in the U.S. You become a copyright holder when your work is set in fixed form (e.g., written down, drawn, videotaped). At that point, you have the legal right to protect your work using the DCMA and other acts.

      In fact, if you are serious about protecting your work, you should put some kind of rights/license statement on your blog. Example: “This blog is Copyright © 2011 by Blog Author. All rights reserved,” or “This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license and can be copied and shared for noncommercial purposes.” Make sure you include accurate contact information in case someone wants to pay your license fee.

      Registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office could help you defend your copyright in court, but it is not required.

  7. Ashley - Embracing Beauty September 27, 2011 / 8:14 am

    This is fantastic! I’ve came across someone stealing my content just recently and I didn’t realize the options I had. I just left it alone not wanting to argue with someone but you’ve given me the courage to pursue this! I do have one question though, in a separate incident, I noticed that someone took a few paragraphs of my post and included it in between their own (or someone elses!). Would you pursue this the same way?

    • Angela England April 29, 2013 / 9:23 am

      If someone takes only a paragraph or two and then lists back to my original content/post I wouldn’t complain. If someone steals a few paragraphs and combines them with other stolen paragraphs I would definitely say something!

  8. Gina @TheTwinCoach September 27, 2011 / 8:35 pm

    This is such a great article (thanks to Melissa from MomComm for reposting the link)! I have a couple of questions. First off….what sort of Google Alert to do you have that notifies you of posts that may have been copied? I have alerts for my name & my blog name, but how does one do it for post content???
    Thanks so much fo sharing all of this info!

  9. AdSprad September 28, 2011 / 10:56 am

    Thank you for this guest blog, I learned a lot and feel empowered. Kudos for having patience with ignorance. It is tough with so much ignorance on the web, but education is a part of that solution! =)

  10. Angie September 29, 2011 / 8:49 am

    I am confused as to how you find the offensive copying? Is there a service that scans for copies of your articles or are you just relying on being notified by your fans? I get google alerts for key phrases and my name, but do I have to do that for each post? Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  11. Dion September 29, 2011 / 8:45 pm

    Many thanks for using this chance to go over this, Personally i think firmly about it i take pleasure in learning about this specific matter. Yeah! I am quiet confused too that is there a service that scans for copies of your articles or are you just relying on being notified by your fans?

    • Angela England April 29, 2013 / 9:25 am

      You can use copyscape, google alerts created for specific posts, and often if you are including links in your posts to other posts you will find the copied content when you get a track back alert on your blog.

  12. Cindi @ Moomettes Magnificents October 3, 2011 / 10:46 pm

    Great advice, because it WILL happen to you. I had such person tell me it was a “compliment” that they did this. They did take it down after I called them out on it hehe

  13. Kimberley @ A Year of Projects October 19, 2011 / 2:00 pm

    This is a great post. I had to deal with this in the past and I really didn’t know what to do so I ended up doing nothing at all. I am going to bookmark this post. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  14. Fadra November 2, 2011 / 8:06 am

    Who knew I would need this article right after I found out about it? Thanks ANGELA!!!

  15. WALEED AHMAD November 21, 2011 / 4:33 am

    Hey i am working on my blog for more than 3 months and today i found that some one is stealing all my work and they are republishing my original articles on their blog. My blog is hosted by blogger and they are also using the blogger service to republish my articles, what i am gonna do to. I mailed the m but they didn’t replied, they stole more than 280 articles of mine, what i am gonna do, its not easy to apply for all those articles. Any how i placed a DMCA notice against them and put all the URLS that are stealing my original content. What they are gonna do known, Will they remove the Duplicate articles. Is these any fee they charge to get these articles removed from the search results or blog. Please Guide me what to do next. Many other blogs are using my articles too they are using them without the Original source link, its impossible t place a notice against all of them.

  16. Chris Jean December 3, 2011 / 5:55 am

    I agree that the key to deal with this is to stay calm – but I’am afraid that easier said than done. Lucky I haven’t had to deal with anything like that yet.

  17. Sonja Chan December 11, 2011 / 8:14 am

    I have alerts for my name & my blog name, but how does one do it for post content??? This is a great post. Thank you for this guest blog, I learned a lot and feel empowered. I too am going to bookmark this as well since I have blogger.com.

  18. Josh December 31, 2011 / 5:23 pm

    Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to have to take some of these steps. : (

  19. seo January 31, 2012 / 12:27 pm

    Hi would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  20. Laura February 15, 2012 / 6:49 am

    It happened with me a few time. Unfortunatelly it is sometihng that we won’t be able to stop. Simply if you do something good it will be copied, take it as a compliment :) Plus gooogle will always credit you since you are the original source.

    • SeaWorld Mommy August 9, 2012 / 8:09 am

      Unfortunately I’ve read that even though you are the original content provider, the other site may actually cancel out your ranking, and they get the Google mention and YOU become the duplicate. Such a complicated issue!

      SeaWorld Mommy recently posted Army Specialist Espinosa of Cocoa Beach Surprises Daughter at SeaWorld http://wp.me/p11fpi-f4

    • Angela England April 29, 2013 / 9:27 am

      So if I’m at the grocery store and I want to help myself to one of those delicious apples I can just tell the manager “hey dude, chill. Everyone steals sometimes. You should take it as a compliment that I like YOUR apples better than any of the other grocery stores.”

  21. John February 16, 2012 / 2:45 pm

    Great article Angela, I have several article stolen and they have ended upon what look reasonable sites. You have provided a good proceedure and the encouragement to go after these scum bags.
    Some fools have had a go at spinning the article and it ends up gobbledegook but still clearly my article and worse still it is direct copy with no links.
    Stay Well Stay Happy
    John

  22. sid February 22, 2012 / 10:28 am

    great info. I was worried about this info. You saved my blog. Keep good.

  23. Kelly Fitzsimmons February 29, 2012 / 7:43 pm

    Hello Everyone,

    So this happened to me yesterday for the first time and I’m just too busy to chase this content thief down.
    Question#1 How do find out per Google, if this affects my SEO?

    Question#2 I checked the site and it scraped links to 2 other articles(follow) but the page is PR 0 and an obvious sniper site, does having this content theft linked to me hurt my SEO?

    Sorry I’m a SEO newb.
    Thanks

  24. Jessica April 22, 2012 / 11:16 am

    Content piracy seems to have gotten worse lately. Luckily the guys at Google are deindexing these sites :)

  25. Mandy May 31, 2012 / 8:05 pm

    This is way too long and complicated. This is a trivial problem. Make a DMCA notification *to the websites’s ISP/host*, not to Google. It will be taken down quickly. For non-U.S. hosts, don’t mention the DMCA, but make the same kind of notification under a general copyright claim. Canadian, European, and even most Asian hosts will take the page down.

    To find the ISP, there are various websites, but if you have a Unix command line, such as the Mac OS X Terminal.app, do this:

    $ host bloggingbasics101.com
    bloggingbasics101.com has address 96.30.36.104

    Then:

    $ whois 96.30.36.104
    OrgName: Cogswell Enterprises Inc.
    RAbuseEmail: abuse@wiredtree.com

    [Irrelevant lines omitted.]

    If there is no abuse e-mail, go to the Copyright Office page to find it:
    http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/a_agents.html

    If it’s not there, Google for it at the ISP’s site: “site:wiredtree.com dmca|abuse”

    Then send a DMCA notification by e-mail to the ISP. It is very, very rare that this won’t get the page offline.

    Never, ever directly engage with a website owner. It’s hard to find their contact information. They may be deliberately stealing the content so they don’t care about your complaints. They know that your lame claims to sue them are bogus. If you were serious your attorney would be the one sending them a letter (by postal mail), not you (by e-mail). And you don’t want to get into endless debates with idiots on copyright law. The ISP is quick and easy.

    • Angela England April 29, 2013 / 9:34 am

      If there is no contact information and a they are obviously a scraper you shouldn’t wAste your time. I talk about that above. However, if it is a company blog, a real person who just doesn’t know better, etc its often more productive (and polite) to send a heads up. I have received over the course of my blogging career over a thousand dollars in reprint fees and two good paying gigs because of my willingness to do this.

  26. Vinay June 4, 2012 / 11:50 am

    Thanks for the great blog post. I am a regular blogger and do creative writing frequently. I luckily came across your site and was amazed that I am not alone who is duped by article thieves. Article thieves are around and are prowling on our sites. I have written various blog posts for my clients. But sometimes when I had submitted my articles for their review, in the hope to get payment for them. The clients play a trick and publishes these articles on different article directories and don’t pay for the articles and blame that these are duplicate articles, which I have stole. Don’t know how to tackle this issue.

  27. Kris June 26, 2012 / 7:59 pm

    Angela, this post is much appreciated. I have just had someone steal my post word for word, and feel a little indignant about it! I’ve followed your advice and am hoping for a simple resolution.
    Thanks for posting this article.
    Kris

  28. Sana July 6, 2012 / 11:16 am

    Thanks Angela for this article. Somebody is stealing my articles from ezinearticles and it’s very frustrating for me to put up with it. I am going to file a complaint against that thief. Thanks once again.

  29. Alan Mead October 3, 2012 / 7:55 am

    Thanks a LOT for this article. Your cooler head will help me prevail. I just found out about a quite a bit of scraping from my site. I woke up ANGRY this morning ready to write a scathing blog post outing the offenders. I realize that wouldn’t be very helpful. I’m going to try your more productive methods!

  30. moshe November 26, 2012 / 7:24 pm

    thanks !

  31. moshe November 26, 2012 / 7:25 pm

    thank for the article

  32. Rachelle February 18, 2013 / 9:06 am

    Great information! Definitely worth bookmarking. Thank you for the pointers. :)

  33. Laura Bleill April 29, 2013 / 1:40 am

    Thanks for the template in how to respond. I just personalized it for a site in my community that lifted a significant amount of content. Although it used attribution, I felt it was still over the line. I don’t think people understand that attribution isn’t enough.

    • Angela England April 29, 2013 / 9:32 am

      I see this especially with tutorials and how tos….if you put all the information on your site and then casually mention”oh yeah I stole all this good content frm So and So” there is still no reason for the reader to click through. Blissfully Domestic has been doing some amazing curation lately that we spend a lot of time on weeding through all the posts and pulling it ten favorites of something…..we tease with a pic, a one sentence description, and send the reader back to that site for all the details.

      That is the difference between curation and copying. Good luck! Report them if they don’t respond.

  34. dollarsNrupees August 22, 2013 / 7:32 am

    My blogger post content is copied by another blogger. I found that after I deleted my blogger account and migrated all the posts to my new website (mentioned in the title). What should I do now?

    • Melanie Nelson August 22, 2013 / 11:53 am

      You should contact them and possibly file a DMCA complaint.

  35. Robin August 25, 2013 / 1:07 am

    Thank you for the nice tips. I have disabled the copying of text from my blog using a script. It works fine, at least it is making the task much difficult for content thieves :)

  36. JD September 7, 2013 / 5:41 pm

    Does this apply to facebook posts as well? I found another page copying my posts word for word right down to the punctuation without any credit to me. I’ve asked them for a simple credit, but they won’t do that. Can I file a facebook copyright complaint?

  37. Michele C. Hollow September 10, 2013 / 4:09 pm

    Thank you for this helpful post Melanie. I was just scraped again!

  38. Michele C. Hollow September 10, 2013 / 4:10 pm

    Thanks Melanie. You are the voice of reason. I was just scraped!

  39. vato February 5, 2014 / 9:51 pm

    Hi,
    Thanks a lot for this great article, I have a similar problem, I have a blog and a shop about vintage cameras, and ebay sellers are stealling my descriptions and reviews to sell their cameras on ebay.

  40. John July 26, 2014 / 8:12 am

    Angela, I will save this article for future reference. I have had swiped in the past but not bothered to chase up. Now I know how to do it. Also I agree with your comment “it is important for bloggers and writers to protect their work. The more often content scrapers “get away with it”, the more the problem will continue” If I complain in a way it may help others it we all complain it will help reduce the low life thieves.

    Ta

    John

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