Have you ever discovered that a website had copied an article or a photograph directly from your site violating your copyright? It happens to me all the time and can be a big problem as far as search engines go. Duplicate content is not only a no-no for good SEO and site rankings, but it can also steal your traffic if the site that stole your content ranks higher than you.
The biggest and clearest case of copyright infringement is when they take an entire post, word-for-word, hotlink your photos and post it on their site as their own content. Some will actually give a credit link but unless it is in excerpt, a full content copy of your post is not in your best interest.
So what can you do about it?
Likely, contacting the webmaster will not work. In fact, you’ll be lucky to find contact information on the site itself.
That’s where this tool comes in handy:
With the WHOIS tool from DomainTools (it’s free to use) you can find detailed information about the person who owns a domain name. You can find out their name, address and email address unless they have privacy enabled, then you must contact the domain registrar. Another useful piece of information you can usually obtain from a WHOIS search on a domain is the hosting company the offending site uses. Usually you can look at the nameservers in the WHOIS (for example: ns1.hostgator.com would mean Hostgator is the hosting company) and learn who the domain is pointed to that houses their content.
You could try to contact the domain owner directly but let’s face it – if they are “scraping” your content, they likely aren’t going to respond to your emails.
So you have to go ABOVE them – to their hosting company.
Before we talk about that, let’s talk a little bit about DMCA. DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that attempts to address the special copyright challenges we are faced with digital media.
Copyright in general is hard to prove and certainly is costly to attempt resolution with. But, because of DMCA, web hosting providers are required by law to review and remove offending content if it is a clear copyright issue.
You have 3 options (aside from hiring an attorney) when it comes to using DMCA to try and have your rights as the copyright holder of your content enforced.
- Contact their hosting company
- Contact the search engines
- Contact their advertisers
All three of those entities are not likely to approve of sites that scrape and plagarize content and will take appropriate measures to remove it. Hosting companies will probably simply remove the content directly but if it is not the first complaint against a site, they may choose to shut down the site entirely. Search engines could potentially remove the site from appearing in all search results and ad companies might see a DMCA violation as a breech of terms and not good business to have spam bloggers within their network and refuse to display any further ads on the site.
Option 1, contact their hosting company is the most direct, simplest way to resolve the issue.
Generally you can go to the hosting company’s website and obtain their contact information. You will want to look around for their abuse department, if they don’t have one you might need to email, call or live chat with them and ask them where you can fax a DMCA takedown request.
Then you need to draft up a DMCA takedown request with all the required information.
I’ll make it easy.
Below is a sample DMCA takedown request letter. I have used this one twice without issue, the offending content was removed. Feel free to copy it and use it as a starting point and modify it for your purposes. Use this at your own risk. Each hosting company may require different information.
I am not an attorney nor do I play one on TV.
Sample DMCA Takedown Request Letter
Fax: hosting abuse department fax #
Attn: Abuse Department
Re: DMCA Complaint
We own blog name (blog url). A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on at least one copyright owned by my company.
An article was copied onto your servers without permission. The original ARTICLE/PHOTOS, to which we own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at:
original article link
The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:
copied article link
Per WHOIS, the offending website owner can be contacted here:Registrant Name:Registrant Street1:Registrant State/Province:Registrant Postal Code:Registrant Country:Registrant Email:
This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.
Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your servers with all due speed should the direct infringer, your client, not comply immediately.
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.
You do have rights when it comes to copyright infringement on the web. Don’t let someone steal your content when it is as simple as drafting a letter to a hosting company to have it removed.