A very nasty website was stealing my blog content – and I wasn’t happy about it. Here was my successful plan of action to stop another website from stealing my content.

I used a two prong approach: the official process way, and the nasty get-it-where-it-hurts way. And I think it was the nasty way that got him to remove my content in the end.

First, the official process way. It is essential to copy the site owner in all the steps you are taking; I think it is the fear of prosecution and your evident determination to follow it through that might get them to stop stealing your content:

  1. Make backup copies of your pages and their pages to keep as evidence in case they change it.
  2. Write to the site owner, and ask them to remove the offending content. You may be able to find the street address of the site owner using the Whois database. State that they are infringing your copyright and demand that they remove the offending entry immediately failing which you will claim damages and an injunction together with costs
  3. Write to the web hosting company explaining what the site is doing and demanding that they remove the offending entry immediately failing which you will claim damages and an injunction against them together with costs for copyright infringement. Copy the site owner in on the message. The Whois database will give you a good start in finding the details of the hosting company, and they’ll usually have a form for making complaints.
  4. Write to the local Trading Standards making a complaint, and again, copy the site owner in on the message.

Now, the powerful secret weapon actions:

The motive for stealing content is usually greed. Your content helps the nasty website’s search engine positioning, and your content will typically be surrounded by Google AdSense advertising. Every click on an ad means pennies in the pocket of the thief.

These are are generally splog websites: spam blogs which are intentionally fake and are designed to get ad impressions and ad revenue.

The plan is to let Google know just what a lousy son of gun this website is and hit it where it hurts: his wallet. And make sure you tell the infringing site that you have reported him to the AdSense programme.

At the bottom of the Google AdSense advertising on the offending site is a little bit of text that says Ads by Google: click on it.

Then scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the option to

Send Google your thoughts on the site or the ads you just saw

You want to Report a Violation and say the site is infringing your copyright, as well as other possible Google AdSense Policy Violations:

In due course you will get an email back from Google AdSense asking you to write a letter with further details about the infringement. In my case it didn’t need to go that far: the offender had already removed the content.

There may be other advertisers on the splog site: contact them in writing with copies of all your other correspondence with the culprit.

It may be that other sites are using your content without realising they are infringing your copyright, and maybe a friendly email might sort things out and give you a link in the process.

And of course prevention

If you want to read more about stopping copyright theft then I would recommend Lorelle’s article on What to Do When Someone Steals Your Content.

And I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to Gary Cousins and Alex Newson for their support and guidance.

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