My website is copied! Now what!
It is one of those moments that feel slightly surreal. The scene: Sunday 10am, me frantically shooting new photos in my living room for a Marks & Spencer's campaign and rushing upstairs in the office every ten minutes to check the results and decide if I need more (which I do, every time). Husband and child are out of the house for a few hours, so everything is in GO GO GO mode.
Then I decide to check Twitter and maybe post a sneaky peek of the campaign when a message from fabulous fellow blogger Anna Lysik of "Don't cramp my Style" blog pops up.
Anna is reasonably upset as she's just discovered a website in the States that has copied her entire content - and we're talking hundreds of blog posts. What's worse, the posts have been attributed to a "Yasmin" and not to Anna. Anna does her research and finds my posts on the website as well before raising the alarm.
Now, as I said, it's 10am, I'm in a hurry, and I kind of dismissed the gravity of the situation (unlike Anna, I have yet to process the gravitas of the situation). It takes me exactly 33 hours to finally act. What would you do in a situation like that? Should you care?
DO I NEED A COPYRIGHT NOTICE?
Here's a notice to have on your blog footer or side bar which I have taken from the Wordpress Support website - see what I did here? I credited the text below to its author. That's not so hard now, is it?!
"© [Full Name] and [Site Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. ..." Get the full notice from the source please!
I agree it is long, and looks less cool than wearing loafers with white socks. Only Michael Jackson could pull this look off. This does not really fit with my footer. I don't feel it belongs anywhere on my blog. Maybe on the contact me page?
A copyright notice will likely prevent another blogger or author copying from your blog but if your website content is being copied by an 'aggregator website' (which is the case here by the way) then I have to say there's little this notice will do to prevent the administrator of that website. So you'll need to show them some tough love.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF MY CONTENT IS STOLEN?
Anna was looking for a photo of hers on Google and kind of bumped into the offending website. BY SHEER LUCK. You might not be so lucky (I know I wouldn't) and might not notice until some time has passed and your website has been PENALISED FOR DOUBLE CONTENT (more of that in a bit).
To find out if your content has been copied, the easiest way is to set up Google alerts. I use them A LOT for my non-blogging work (legal) and now it seems I will be using them to sort out copyright infringements too. Here's a good article on setting them up (very easy but you need a Google account - if you are a blogger and you have Google analytics then you have a Google account already, yes?)
You can also simply copy and paste a paragraph from a few posts on Google to see if the wording comes up in a website other that yours!
OK, MY CONTENT IS STOLEN, NOW WHAT
My photoshoot is not going to plan, I am losing the light in the front room, I cannot concentrate and in between photos I run upstairs to see Anna's messages and research this whole bloody mess. I kind of bury my head in the sand at that point, thinking it will GO AWAY.
And go away it does. NOT.
So here's what you've been waiting for PEEPS. The 3 steps to sort out copyright infringement.
1. Check for contact details on the website that infringes your copyright and write to them pronto.
If an email address is advertised, send them a DMCA TAKEDOWN Notice to cease and desist from infringing your copyrights. Fuck, the legal terms here are so sexy (I have not mentioned but as a lawyer I LOVE drafting complaint letters and this is my ultimate IN YOUR FACE I FOUND YOU OUT SO TAKE IT DOWN BITCH moment. Here's a good example of such a notice on IPWatchdog.com.
They can choose to ignore you. Or there might not be an email address or contact form or something similar.
Usually, if it's a photo or something simple, you can sort out the removal easily over a friendly email. Heck, you might not even mind for someone to use your photos as long as they have credited them back to you! BUT if friendly doesn't do it, go to step 2.
2. If you cannot contact the administrator of the offending website, or you are not on the same wavelength (they ignore you etc) then go to their HOSTING PROVIDER. Like yesterday!
So contact the hosting provider and say you want to submit a DMCA, and ask for the correct email address to send this to. I had to go to CLOUDFLARE and it took me some 10 minutes of copying and pasting original URLs and the infringing URLs on their "content abuse form" and that was it, I had submitted my DMCA with them. In my case I had to contact CLOUDFLARE on this form.
How do you find the hosting provider? Simple. CLICK HERE and type the offending website. Below is the results page. Scroll to NAME SERVERS and that's the host.
Next find the Host on Twitter (best for quick results) and say you want to send a DMCA, and ask for the correct email address to send this to. I had to go to CLOUDFLARE and it took me some 10 minutes of copying and pasting original URLs and the infringing URLs on their "content abuse form" and that was it. Here's the CLOUDFLARE form.
3. If all else fails go straight to GOOGLE. To submit a DMCA you will need to have verified your website with Google. If you have not, please google this as this is a whole different post.
Once you have verified your website (takes a few minutes) go here and start a new form.
All the infringing URLs that you submit will be show in your Google Webmaster Tools.
I will update you as to how this goes but for the time being, I have lost 4 hours of my life and that's 4 less hours on my family, my sanity, my reading and my blogging. Actually, I blogged about it so maybe there will be something good coming out of all this M-E-S-S.
All comments welcome, especially if you have something positive to contribute, definitely can use some hand holding right now and more advice in case I haven't done all I should.
The irony of this thing. This post will be showing on the offending website the moment I hit PUBLISH. CRINGE.