If you are publishing great content online to build your digital brand, chances are, you will likely find your content republished on other sites. As frustrating as it may be to find the content you’ve poured hours into creating has been stolen, there are steps you can take to have your stolen content removed.
The greater the quality of your content, the greater the threat of having your content stolen. To arm yourself against content theft, there are three key steps you must be prepared to take.
First, you have to be able to find out if your content is being stolen. Second, you have to be able to determine if you can take legal action. Then, you have to go through the process of getting your content removed.
Now, if you’re busy creating content, you probably don’t have much time to ward off content thieves. Follow these three steps to handle stolen content.
How to Handle Stolen Content
Step 1: Determine if Your Content is Being Stolen
When it comes to stolen content, it pays to be vigilant. There are a few ways to find out if your content is being stolen.
Copyscape offers a free plagiarism checker that you can use to find copies of your content published online. Enter your URL in the search box and you will be given a list of 10 results for free. If you desire a more in- depth service, you can upgrade to the premium version for a fee.
Google Alerts is a free tool that you can use to take a proactive approach to monitoring for stolen content. Create an alert for a phrase in your content.
Conduct a Search
You can also conduct manual searches for stolen content. Enter an excerpt from your content into the search box of your favorite search engine and review the results for any instances of stolen content.
Step 2: Determine if you Can Take Action
Finding stolen content is only part of the battle. You also have to evaluate the situation to determine if any laws have been broken and whether or not you can take action
The U.S. government provided a useful resource that can help exploited writers remove their content from unwarranted websites. This resource is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It was signed into U.S. law in 1998, and it takes care of criminalizing the utilization of copyrighted work.
However, before opting to use the DMCA, you have to assure that your “stolen content” isn’t actually protected by The Fair Use Act.
When you publish content online, you are automatically protected under copyright law. However, The Fair Use Act allows non-copyright owners to use the content in the interest of promoting “the progress of science and useful arts”. In other words, even if you have copyright ownership of a piece of content you wrote, others may still be able to legally use or alter it.
Here are four factors to consider in evaluating Fair Use from the US Copyright Office
- Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
- Nature of the copyrighted work
- Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
- Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
Step 3: Get the Stolen Content Removed
Now that you’ve determined your content has been stolen and you can take action, you have to determine the best course for having the stolen content removed.
Option 1: Contact the Site Owner or Hosting company
While this may sound like a simple option, sending your request directly to the source can result in action. Visit whois.icann.org to identify the site contact and send a request for removal. Be sure to include the link to your content on their site and ask them to remove the content to avoid a DMCA Takedown filing.
If the site contact does not respond to your request, you can also contact their web hosting company to report the website that stole your content. The hosting company may take the site down.
Option 2: File a DMCA Takedown Notice Online
If you ascertain that your content is indeed “stolen”, you have to make sure of the following before filing a DMCA Takedown Notice:
- You have the right to assert infringement of a copyrighting license. If you don’t own the copyright, your takedown notice will be declined.
- You have to assure that the alleged copyright infringement is not protected by any enactment such as The Fair Use Act or any free speech laws.
- All work must be in digital form, and this includes media such as images, videos, texts, and audio files.
After you’ve gone through these prerequisites, you can finally move onto filing a DMCA Takedown Notice online.
Visit the Google DMCA dashboard and file a takedown request.
Filing a DMCA takedown notice doesn’t guarantee that every part of your copyrighted work will be removed from the web. Keep in mind that you will have to submit a request for the different locations on your website that have been infringed. You must take into account the fact that the alleged infringer will have access to your DMCA takedown notice and may file a counter-notice which is essentially them defending their side. In the event that their work does get re-posted, you will have to resort to other means.
Option 3: Send a DMCA Takedown Letter
If you are not using an online form to file your DMCA takedown, you will have to provide certain pieces of information that are mandated by the law in the requested format.
Your notification must:
- Be in writing
- Be signed by the copyright owner or agent
- Identify the original copyrighted work (or works if there are multiple) you claim has been infringed
- Identify the material that is infringing your copyrighted work
You must also include:
- Your contact information so that the designated agent can easily contact you
- A statement that your complaint is in good faith
- A statement about the information provided being accurate
- A statement that you are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right
Step 4: Find a Designated DMCA Agent
Lastly, you can use a designated DMCA to complete a takedown on your behalf.
You may find your DMCA agent here.
Have you had to face stolen content online? Which option led to the fastest result? Let us know in the comments below!