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.

60 Responses

  1. Hailey March 7, 2017 / 7:43 am

    Thank you for sharing this. Such a helpful article and I have learnt a lot from it. I’m a new-ish blogger, so anything and everything I can learn I’m most grateful for. My sister recently found one of her posts on another website. It was more of a “I found this great post from Nikki about xxx and……” Then continued to use massive chunks of her content word for word. She wasn’t sure if she should feel offended or honoured that someone used her post. Tricky situation but I will pass this on to her she will find it helpful I’m sure.

  2. 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 β€œget 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

  3. 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.

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

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

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

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

  6. 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?

  7. 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 πŸ™‚

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

    Great information! Definitely worth bookmarking. Thank you for the pointers. πŸ™‚

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

    thank for the article

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

    thanks !

  13. 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!

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