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Plagiarism: Take Down Stolen Content

Ok, you discover that someone stole your landing page — word for word, spelling errors included, and even your pictures.  Well, some might say that imitation is the highest flattery.  And for those social networking experts (or, perhaps addicts), you work really hard to create blogs, tweets, vlogs, press releases, podcasts, online TV, search engine marketing, video recording and other online tools to attract readers.  So, what can you do to take back control?   First and most important, act immediately — time is money, and the longer you wait, the more consumers you loose.

  • Use a web site copier application — like HTTrack web site copier or  Firefox Screengrab — and document the copycat content.
  • Consider implementing the “polite” online etiquette of looking for a “contact” or a <”webmaster”> and send a firm message that requests that the content be immediately removed.
  • Use a WhoIs service to find out (1) web hosting company’s name, address, and email and (2) the web site regitrar’s name, address, and email address and seach the US Copyright Office to see if there is a DMCA Designated Agent.
  • If the there is a DMCA Designated Agent, then send the offending party a take down notice demanding that the copycat site immediately be removed and possibly with a reservation of additional rights (e.g., your right to find out the identity of the person who posted the copycat content).
  • If there is not a DMCA Designated Agent, then send a “cease and desist” or a “demand” letter notifying the offending party that they must immediately remove the stolen content from their site and consider demanding damages or reserving additional rights.
  • File a notice of Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement with search engines that find the infringing URL in its search results — Google, Yahoo, MSN and others — and demand to have the offending site removed from their search results.
  • If you forget to copy the infringing URL, then you might be able to obtain proof of the infringement by using the Internet Archive to show that the content appeared on your site at an earlier date than it appeared on the offending site.

And, there are sites like Copyscape adn Copysentry that make it easy and affordable to detect and notify you if there are copies of your content on the world wide web.

Finally, if you think that you need the help of an attorney after reading this, then you probably do.  That is, these suggestions are not supposed to be a substitute for legal advice and if you think you need legal help, than you should contact a qualified attorney to further discuss the details of your concerns.

Last Modified: December 5th, 2009