How to Protect Your Online Writing Material From Plagiarism and File a DMCA Complaint With Google: Stop Online Thieves
Is That The Real Elvis or A Big Fat Copycat?
Copyright and DMCA: Educate Yourself Now!
My Personal Experience
Recently I was browsing through my hubs (articles) only to discover a neat little © sitting happily alongside three of my hub titles. Imagine my fury when on further investigation I discovered that my three hubs had been copied and published on two other writing sites by two different writers (I will call them writers as the other names I wish to use would see me violate every rule in the book and most likely be banished from Hubpages for eternity).
Needless to say it took considerable time for the colour red to subside and my breathing to return to (almost) normal; however once I could function on a reasonable level I continued my investigation. To my horror the copied articles were complete replicas of my articles; even the google adverts and my personal photos were copied. In fact on one of the sites; I won't mention the name (scribd.com) my name appeared on the top of the article next to the culprits profile. I was disgusted; not only had my articles been stolen but the 'WRITER' (for want of another word) who had stolen them in the first place was a right lazy sod and couldn't even be bothered to type his own name.
The second site was owned by the article copier himself. Unbelievably this guy was equally as lazy and my article was complete with quotes, jokes and personal references. The only thing that was missing was my photo.
I must tell you I hadn't a clue what to do. However, I was that mad I decided to track the two little thieves down. Mission Impossible: My Mantra.
What I Did Next!
- Firstly I had to identify the domain; the domain is the name of the Internet host, for example: about.com, helium.com or hubpages.com
- Secondly I had to make contact with the domain owner
- In the case of scribd.com I was able to contact their support team through the main page where I left a request and my email
- While I waited for their response I googled everything and anything that had the remotest thing to do with copied content; I found a few interesting items among two of which were...
a) The Whois Record
b) The DMCA aka Digital Millennium Copyright Act
- I received an email a little while later from the scribd.com support team requesting more information on the supposed copied articles
- I responded with a copy of the DMCA and with great restraint kept my reply professional and to the point
- I received another email the next day; I was informed that my content would be removed within the next few days
- Within 24 hours the copied content had been removed: thank you scribd.com
- Result :)
- Copier number two was a little harder to track down as the domain was owned by the culprit in question
- I left a message on his comments page but I got no response
- I filed a DMCA complaint with google as there was google adverts on his page (most articles rely on adverts to make money; no adds no money)
- Google is a search engine, therefore they have a responsibiltiy with regard to the content on their pages (copied content must be removed)
- Using the Whois Record, I ran a domain search and found the owner contact details including his email
- I also looked up where the domain was registered
- I sent him a very polite email complete with a DMCA complaint, along with a copy of the DMCA complaint I had filed with google and advised that another DMCA complaint was being filed with GoDaddy.com where his domain was registered
- As I had this persons complete contacts; I also advised that if my content wasn't removed within 48 hours I would have no other option but to sue
- Within 48 hours the domain was closed down and back on GoDaddy.com
- Result :)
What is The Whois Record?
The Whois record is an invaluable database among which includes a store of registered users of an Internet domain; in other words their contact details.
All you need to do is type in the domain name and hit search. In most cases the domain name is visible on the main page or is part of the url: for example http://hubpages.com/flowers-poetry-song. The domain name being hubpages.com.
What is The DMCA?
The DMCA (digital millennium copyright act) was introduced in 1998 to address copyright issues that had been made prominent by the world wide use of the Internet. The basic principle behind this act: to exercise your right as the owner of the material in question. Be it an article, photo, video or other specific medium posted on the Internet. If you are aware of plagiarism regarding your content, file a DMCA complaint with the responsible body immediately.
Sample DMCA Complaint Document
I am (your name) the exclusive rights holder for the (list the names of your copied articles and their urls ie Beautiful Flowers in Spring: http://laura.hubpages.com/hub/beautiful-flowers).
These exclusive rights are being violated by material available on your site at the following urls (list the name of the copied articles, as they appear and their urls ie Beautiful Spring Flowers: http://writersgroup.com/beautiful.spring.flowers).
I have in good faith belief that the use of this material in such fashion is not authorized by the copyright holder, the copyright holder's agent or the law and therefore infringe the copyright owner's rights.
Under the penalty of perjury in a United States court, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am the copyright owner or authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights for the material in question.
I hereby demand that you act expeditiously to remove the material claimed to be infringing.
My contact information is as follows (list all contact inclusive of address, phone and email)
(Your full legal name)
All You Need to Know and You do Need to Know!
Summary: What to do When Your Content is Copied
- Locate the domain (usually on the main page or in the url (example hubpages.com))
- Leave a message regarding your complaint (support team, contact page, comments or forums (if available))
- Locate the domain owner (Whois Record)
- Send an email requesting that the copied content be removed
- File a DMCA complaint with the domain owner
- File a DMCA complaint with any advertising agents with adverts on said page ie yahoo, google
- File a complaint with the search engine ie google, yahoo or bing
- Inform your main domain of the copied content if you are operating on a sub-domain ie Hubpages, Helium
- Follow through to ensure your copied content is removed
- Always be professional and accurate
Protect Your Content
- Google your article headings regularly to check for duplicate content
- Google 'Plagiarism Checker', enter text in the box provided and the url in the box provided and run a search to check for copied content
- If you write on HubPages; check out the © symbol alongside your article headings on the account page and follow instructions as laid out by HubPages
- Register your articles online
- Use the © symbol, the year you wrote it and your name on all your articles and materials
- HubPages has already provided this for you: go to edit on your hub and on the right hand side (down the page a bit) you will see Display Options, click here and you will see a copyright notice, you have two options; no notice and your copyright, chose your copyright (your user name)
- Brand your content
As writers and artists we work hard to create our material and indeed express ourselves through our creativity and other such mediums. We put our very being into our work, sharing ourselves with others. To find oneself violated through plagiarism is infuriating. Plagiarism is a very personal attack and is a serious crime against the owner.
Our thoughts and ideas mostly stem from our imaginations slowly growing into the detailed material we publish on line. To find our hard work and personal efforts stolen by another is not just a horrid feeling it's down right soul destroying.
I sincerely wish all creative artists, writers and bloggers the very best: keep up the good work and remember: Protect your content.
Hello all, I just wanted to add an update to keep all you talented people in the loop. Recently I have had a number of hubs copied. I complained to Google and am very happy to say that Google removed all but one copied article. The one remaing had no Google adverts and was using a different search engine so they had no jurisdiction.
The remaining article did have a huge Amazon banner advert so I complained to Amazon. While Amazon couldn't remove the article they did provide me with the sites contact (saving me a lot of investigation). I filed a DMCA with the site directly advising that Amazon had provided their details and lo and behold the article was removed.
Another amazing thing: one of the sites in question wrote to me and asked if I would be interested in writing for them, and what were my rates. So you see guys and gals we must no matter how boring or time consuming follow up with complaints and remove our copied content. It's so worth it. Good luck.
What do you do when you find your content has been copied?
© 2011 Gabriel Wilson