What To Do When Someone Steals or Copies Your Content

[ANSWERED-VLOG] Someone stole my web content – what can I do?!

This is the first of a new blog/vlog series that I’m doing called [ANSWERED].

It should be pretty self-explanatory, and the best part is that the articles will all be short ‘n sweet and will feature a video discussion instead of my usual long drawn-out explanations.

A skimmer’s dream! Let me know how you like the new format.

All my lemony love,

Krista Goncalves RNC

Facebook Group Question: What happens if someone steals your web content?

I received this question from one of my Facebook Group members via private message. The individual had already been feeling anxious about a new program she’d recently launched because enrolment had been much lower than expected.

This was Problem #1 we chatted about first.

Then, to add insult to injury, she was horrified to encounter Problem #2:

One of her (very few) program participants had stolen some of the content and was now offering it as their lead magnet or freebie opt-in resource.

It was only by fluke that she came across the copied content too. Seriously?!?!

The real threat of plagiarism…if you work online, someone is probably going to steal your sh*t!

Unfortunately, this does happen, and often — even in the seemingly trustworthy, feel-good, high-vibin’ Health & Wellness space.

Someone stole (or copied) my web content - what do I do?

[PIN THE JUICE]

Here’s what Copyscape sums up about plagiarism – which is essentially what we’re talking about here.

Plagiarism is a serious and growing problem on the Web. Basically, anyone in the world can copy your online content and shamelessly paste it onto their own site.

If doing so is not done with the intention of quoting and linking back* to the original content creator (as well as with permission required in many cases), then after making just a few minor changes, they can claim your content as their own.

Content theft violates people's rights & discourages new web content creation ~ Copyscape Click To Tweet

That means there’s a lot of repetitive and regurgitated yuck out there.

Publishing stolen or copied work onto your own site can not only lower your credibility, that you’ve likely worked so hard build – but it can ruin your search engine rankings!

With just a few easy clicks, anyone can copy your content and republish it on their site, effectively redirecting what should be YOUR website visitors and, in turn, YOUR clients and profits.

{Above section adapted from the Copyscape website}

*Notice how I gave credit by clearly stating the source and linking to it 🙂

Here’s what I did when someone stole my web content…

As a result of my experience, I reached out to my legal go-to gal Sam Vander Wielen, Corporate Attorney turned Health Coach & Wellness Entrepreneur – and here’s what she suggested you do if this happens to YOU:

If you’re concerned about someone stealing your content, or it’s happened to you before, the first step to take is to make sure you’re protected with some simple legal documents.

 

You should clearly and conspicuously state that your work is protected and that you will pursue your rights to protect it, if necessary.

 

You should also have a clear sharing policy in your terms & conditions on your website. Once you’ve discovered someone has taken your content, pause for a moment to plan a well-thought-out strategy.

 

You’ll want to send a short, yet professional, email or letter to a) let them know you’ve become aware of your content being taken without your permission, b) directing them to take it down/remove it, and c) giving them a specific period of time with which to do so.

 

If they don’t comply and/or they’ve used your content to generate sales, I would think about contacting a local attorney to explore what your rights are.

FYI – I did NOT have any legal documents in place on my website prior to the content theft that I experienced – but I sure do now!

HERE ARE SOME STEPS TO CONSIDER WHEN SOMEONE STEALS YOUR SH*T:

  1. If you discover someone has stolen your content, you should act quickly to have it removed. Since copyright laws vary from place to place, it is always best to seek professional legal advice from a qualified lawyer where you live (and work) before proceeding.
  2. Look for contact details on the offending site and send a polite message asking for the material to be removed.
  3. Use a Whois service to find out the website owner’s name & details, and contact them directly. Enter the domain name in the search box and the contact information should appear towards the bottom of the page.
  4. Contact the web hosting company used by the site and inform them of their customer’s abuse. This information is also available through a Whois search.
  5. Send a formal ‘Cease & Desist’ letter notifying the offending party that they must remove the stolen content from their site.
    Krista’s note: various sample letters are available on the web or you can inquire HERE about DIY Legal Templates.
  6. File a notice of Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement with search engines such as Google to have the offending site removed from their search results.
    Krista’s note: DMCA is a US copyright law, but here’s more about the Canadian version.
  7. If you need proof of infringement, you can use the Internet Archive to show that the content appeared on your site at an earlier date than it appeared on the offending site.

{Above steps adapted from Copyscape}

Here’s the bottom line on stolen or copied web content:

You can’t hide or fly under the radar on the Web! Trust me, anything can and will be found.

If you’ve chosen to conduct your business online, as I have, even partially – the chances are very high that your work will be stolen at least once.

So, be sure to protect yourself right from the beginning with all of these great tips from Health & Legal Coach Sam Vander Wielen and Copyscape.

You can read more about this in Sam’s recent guest post on the blog:
“Is Your Legal Booty Covered?”

On the other side of the coin, do your due diligence in not only creating your own fresh content (or have it created exclusively for you) but also when acquiring content, like some “done for you” resources – get it only from reputable sources AND be sure to customize it.

I even encourage my web content writing clients to run my work through Copyscape (nothing to hide!), and I do the same when I’ve received a guest post or when I’m referencing someone else’s work in a post I’ve written – like I’ve done here.

Oh, and it should go without saying…don’t BE one of those unoriginal a-holes! It’s fine to emulate others and be inspired by their work, just don’t steal or copy it!

You are who YOU are for a reason – use those special gifts that only you have and need to offer the world.

Now go get YOUR legal booty covered AND prevent unoriginal a-holes…with no integrity from stealing your sh*t!