I always say… You know you’ve made it when people begin copying your work.
And thanks to services like www.copyscape.com it’s much easier to spot offenders these days.
Plagiarizing used to really bother me, especially when the search engines weren’t as smart as they are today. It used to be much easier for thieves to steal your rankings.
However, since the engines value quality inbound links more these days, it’s a little harder for thieves to benefit from stealing your work.
Of course, that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to try.
I normally don’t let copycatters bother me too much. They usually get what’s coming to them in the form of search engine penalties or simply lack of success. (I do believe in Karma!)
Besides, if I spent my time chasing these spineless people, it would be counterproductive for my business. So I usually ignore them.
But once and a while I’ll find a person who has gone too far.
The most recent offender not only stole my content word for word, but he stole my pictures (even the photos of me.)
And what angered me even more is the fact he’s an AdSense member and was attempting to make money off the content he stole from me.
Since he is an AdSense publisher, I figured Google would be more proactive about taking action. So I submitted a copyright infringement claim (under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
After only 3 days of faxing the claim, his AdSense ads were disabled and the copyrighted content was deleted from the Web server.
Because I didn’t press charges, the offender was allowed back into AdSense after 7 days. But at least he knows I’m watching and was forced to remove the copyrighted content.
So I was somewhat pleased with the overall results. I have to admit, though, I was a little shocked Google didn’t remove him from AdSense completely. I’m pretty sure that was a violation of the AdSense T&C’s.
What Should You Do?
If you find an AdSense Publisher (or any site that appears in Google) copying your content, here’s what you do…
1. Immediately print out all pages from the offender’s site that contain plagiarized content.
2. Print out the pages on your site that contain the copyrighted content.
3. Try contacting the offender first and ask them to remove the content. In my case, there was no contact information on the site (imagine that?) so I wasn’t able to do this.
4. Complete the claim and mail (or fax) the claim to Google. (Faxing is much faster.)
You may have noticed I didn’t mention looking up their domain name records and contacting them and/or their web host.
In my experience, if the person does not have a contact form on their site, they usually have a bogus email in their domain records or never reply to my emails.
I’ve also had horrible luck with contacting Web hosts. After all, these are their customers so they are often reluctant to do anything. So I decided to go straight to Google.
It only took Google a few days to contact the offender and the AdSense ads were disabled immediately.
This procedure will probably work even if the person doesn’t belong to AdSense, but you better believe Google is especially interested in AdSense Publishers who steal content.
Their AdWords advertisers are their primary concern, so they want to make sure the AdSense program is as “clean” as possible.
A Note to Thieves…
It may be quick and easy to steal someone’s content, but I believe you’ll always get what’s coming to you in the end. So is it really worth it?
Copyright infringement is illegal, even if it’s online. And if you steal from the wrong person, you could end up in a world of trouble should they decide to take legal action against you.
Try publishing your own work for a change. Yes, I know… that requires you to do real work and use your brain. Life’s tough, huh?
Jessica Hupp wrote a very useful and comprehensive article on various ways to combat plagiarism. I’d highly recommend you bookmark this blog post.