You cannot be me by stealing my Content – A friendly letter to the Content Scraper and Plagiarist
Dealing with Online Plagiarism
The World Wide Web is full of content thieves who aim at making a quick buck the easy way using other peoples content. As a writer, I use several tools and techniques to find if anyone is stealing my articles. Yesterday I got an alert that one of my articles published less than 10 days ago was republished in another site. It was a hub on the reasons why not to be friends with ex where I have shared my personal experience on the subject too. It was an article I wrote while in tremendous pain because of an injured right hand and shoulder, and not to mention the cast on my left leg which was making it difficult for me to even sit properly. I wanted to scream and shower abuses at the thief. But I calmed down and tried to read what was going on in the thief’s mind. As far as my little knowledge of Astrology goes, he may have Mercury in his horoscope associated with malefic planets like Rahu which is responsible for what he is (thief).
With the recent content theft which affected so many hubbers and their efforts to take a stolen content directory site down, I decided to write a friendly letter to the content scraper and plagiarist instead of the usual DMCA notification.
Letter to a Content Thief and Response
Given below is the letter I send to Mark (name changed, but he is a Guy).
I am at awe seeing that we wrote articles with the same title and even same wordings. It is quite rare that 2 people think and express alike. From your writing it is evident that we even have gone though the same experiences in life. Just like me, you too fell in love at first sight, was blindsided by your Boyfriend and went for a rebound relationship and break up. I won’t be surprised if you tell me that you too wrote about the reasons why being friends with an ex is a bad idea with a right hand and shoulder injury. I am happy to meet you and look forward to hear from you. I hope you get well soon.
Hugs and Warm regards
Anamika S Jain
I was sure that I would get a response back. I wrote the letter to make the person feel guilty without using harsh words. I wanted to make him aware of the pain and efforts I had gone through to write the article. I also wanted to let him know that I am me because of my experiences. It is the experiences I have gone through that have helped me to write articles which would be helpful for many. I wanted him to realize that he cannot be me by stealing my articles. I wanted to tell him that blind stealing can only make him look like a fool in front of his readers. There is no doubt that love at first sight, blindside breakup or a rebound relationship can happen in same sex relationships too. But such instances can be quite rare. As I thought, the response from the content scraper came with just a single word, ‘sorry’. I went back to his site again and found my content removed. I felt a sense of accomplishment. I have managed to get my content removed within an hour of finding it. I was also sure that he would think twice before stealing content again. I may also have succeeded in making him realize that it is wrong to steal the content of people who put their heart and soul on it. And maybe that would stop him from stealing again.
How to deal with Content theft?
How to Deal with Online Plagiarism? What to do when you find that someone has stolen your content?
Many people indulge in the unethical behavior of website content theft. Many say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but believe me that it is not a good feeling when you find your content stolen by crooks projecting it as their own. They not only steal your deserved page views and money you could make out of it, they also can De-motivate you from doing what you are good at, which is writing. While you can be happy that you are the one capable of creating content worthy of stealing, action has to be taken against these content scrapers and plagiarists. Sometimes, it can even damage your reputation in front of search engines if the duplicate material is spotted on more than one website. Thanks to Google's Panda Update which demoted many scraper sites who were previously ranking ahead of the original sites. Hopefully, the Google algorithm will continue to improve.
Some people may not be aware of what a copyright is or re-producing content is wrong. Such people are normally easy to deal with. Once they are made aware of the situation, most of them remove the content with an apology. Some others are aware of the copyright and related rights, but they still steal your content hoping that they would not get caught or they would be able to make some gains out of it before getting caught. These people too most of the time remove the stolen content when they receive the copyright warning. Some thieves are professionals who have become habituated of stealing content. They have neither guilt nor shame even when they get caught. Even if they remove your content after receiving notification, there is no guarantee that they may not steal again. Some content thieves despite of your continuous efforts to get your copyrighted work removed from their website or blog may not respond to you at all. Either they hope that you will get tired trying and give up or they think that you cannot do them any harm. It is up to you if you want to prove them right or wrong.
Here is what you should do if you find that you content is stolen.
- Go to the site and take a screen shot of the page and keep it for your reference.
- Send a copyright warning to the content thief.
- If no response is received, send a Cease & Desist Letter to the Content Thief giving him a time of 5 days to take action.
- If you have failed to get a response to that too, send a copyright warning to the web host with proof to take action.
- If you still see no response from website owner, send a second email about the copyright infringement. If possible, send a snail mail also which can get you a proof of delivery (POD).
- Send a follow up mail to the Hosting Company. Normally when informed about a copyright infringement offense, the hosting company approaches their client after verifying your claim and asks them to remove the offending material from the site. If the content thief does not heed the warnings of the hosting company, they will usually end up with their website being removed from the web server.
- If you have not got any response still, go ahead and send a DMCA complaint with Search Engines. Often the thief would end up getting his site De-indexed from search engines and also lose his revenue source.
- Still angry? Try maligning the copycat by writing articles, poems and forum posts. (Some do that, but I really do not recommend that. I do not prefer to give any sort of publicity or link juice to a thief who has stolen my content). I would suggest writing general articles spreading awareness about copyright and consequences of stealing content. You can also vent your anger by posting on sites that allow you to post your complaint about content theft like ripoffreport dot com, consumerist dot com and complaintsboard dot com if you wish. That should cool you off.
- Last option with you is prosecution. Approach a good lawyer, and file for damages. Most of the time, just a letter from the lawyer would do the trick. It has for me!
Let us fight plagiarism. Let us not allow anyone to get away with stealing our content.
Copyright © 2012 Anamika S Jain
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