If your copyrighted blog content shows up in whole on another site without proper attribution like InformationFlash.com is doing, here’s a few steps you can take. IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer), so YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).
Send the Webmaster a Cease & Desist Letter
Get a sample cease & desist letter and tailor it to include your own content information. Identify the exact copyrighted blog post that’s showing up on their site.
The webmaster may not be aware of the plagiarism. Sometimes end users post copyrighted material on their own without the webmaster being aware. In other cases, the admin themselves may be doing the copying. Sending a Cease & Desist to the webmaster helps them understand that you didn’t give them permission to post it on their site.
Some sites like InformationFlash don’t make it easy – they don’t publish any personal information on their site, and they try to hide behind private domain registrations. They only accept emails through a contact form, thereby making it impossible to guarantee message delivery. No problem – keep reading.
Send Their ISP’s Abuse Department a DMCA Takedown Notice
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects the intellectual property rights of people who create content, like bloggers. Title II of the DMCA is an agreement between you (the copyright holder) and internet service providers (the web hosting company). As long as the copyright holders notify the ISP and the ISP reacts appropriately, then the ISP is not liable for the copyright infringement. Only the plagiarist is liable. That means web hosting companies and internet providers react swiftly and fairly to complaints of copyright infringement.
Get a sample DMCA notice to hosting companies and send it to the web host. In the case of InformationFlash, you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I took the extra measure of sending one DMCA takedown notice per copyrighted article to show the extent of the problem.
Send Search Engines a DMCA Notice Too
If the site’s webmaster and their web host still don’t react, we have another weapon: the search engines. Before doing that, find out if the site even turns up in search results – the search engines may have already received DMCA takedowns for the site in question. Go to your favorite search engine and type the name of your blog post in quotes, like this:
Look at the search results and find out if the offending site shows up. In the case of InformationFlash, it doesn’t show up – even if I add the word InformationFlash to the search. That’s awesome – Google’s already figured out that the site’s up to no good. In order to send a DMCA notice to a search engine, you have to show that their site will show up in a search for your work.
Each search engine has a different procedure for getting sites delisted:
- Bing’s DMCA Policy
- Google’s DMCA Policy (and there may also be a way to email a DMCA notice to Google)
- Yahoo’s DMCA Policy
- SEOLogic Links to Multiple DMCA Policies
There’s also a sample DMCA notice to search engines that you can use, but make sure to adapt it to each search engine.
Ask for Help From Fellow Bloggers
If you syndicate your blog with SQLServerPedia, email me about the offending site. If you blog at any other site, email the head honcho. All of us are writers, and all of us take plagiarism very, very seriously.
A cynic might ask, “But wait – how is this different than blog syndication at SQLServerPedia?” I’m glad you asked.
- You ask us to syndicate your content. We don’t go poaching content.
- We work with you to set up specialized feeds so that you choose what to syndicate.
- We slather your name all over the place, making it abundantly clear that it’s yours.
If someone takes your syndicated content without your permission, and if you complain to me about it, I will make every effort to go after the offending party with all of the resources available to me. If you want them to syndicate your content straight off your site, that’s completely okay – but they need to take it from your site with your permission, not from SQLServerPedia. You, as a blogger, are completely welcome to syndicate with as many sites as you’d like.
In the case of InformationFlash.com, we’ve already sent them C&D letters, yet they’re still using (y)our content inappropriately. I hate to have to take it to the next step, and I hate to name names in public on my blog. I try to give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt and give them time to do the right thing. If they don’t do the right thing, then I want to make sure the public knows the names of the individuals involved and what they’re doing.
My next post will explain why companies should think twice before hiring individuals who plagiarize intellectual property, whether as full time employees or consultants.
Update 6/27: as I expected, InformationFlash syndicated my content despite the post actually being about InformationFlash stealing content. Rather awkward. Here’s a screenshot of their plagiarized content, as well as a screenshot of a blog post they plagiarized from Gail Shaw. Also note the name of the user who submitted the content – either their admin account has been hacked, or the site’s administrator is responsible for plagiarizing the content. The top of the page notes that they aggregate information via RSS, but remember that we’ve already sent them a cease & desist once, and they agreed to do it – they’re just not doing it.
Update 6/28: Dreamhost contacted me and said they’re taking the site down due to our DMCA complaints. It’s not clear whether the takedown is permanent. I want to thank Dreamhost for acting quickly to protect the intellectual property rights of bloggers.
Update 6/29: I got emails with questions from the site’s webmaster and from a few bloggers, so I added the answers in a followup post with More Thoughts on Blog Plagiarism.