Ugh, I’ve had a hell of a week! Early last week, I was minding my business cruising one of the FB groups I’m in when I noticed a member dropped a link to a blog post. The blog post title looked very familiar to me…so I clicked on the link and it brought me to a website that had stolen an entire blog post & photos from my blog MelasmaDiaries.com.
After a lot of research, I came across this article which tells the story of exactly what is happening to my site and apparently dozens of other sites that publish information for the chronically ill. It’s disgusting that spammers would do this.
The entire process of reporting the stolen content to the appropriate agencies and the removal of the content was about 48 hours. The longest 48 hours ever if you ask me!
What Happens When Someone Steals your blog Post:
Google *can* penalize your site if someone steals your content. Google has a penalty for what is known as “duplicate content”. Duplicate content is when ‘exact word-for-word’ content appears on multiple sites. Spammers use duplicate content to get their spammy websites up and running and Google doesn’t like that so it usually penalizes sites that have the same content as other sites.
Because Melasma Diaries has been doing so great in Google search, I was terrified of anything ruining that….and the fact that this website was stealing my content could be the exact thing to ruin it! So I quickly took action and did the steps I’m about to outline below. Note…Although the first 3 steps are the most important, you’ll want to do ALL 5 steps in order to prevent it from happening again!
Below I will share with you the step-by-step process.
1. Contact the Webmaster
The first thing you want to do is find out who the website owner is and send them an email asking them to remove the stolen content. In my case, there was no contact information available at all on the blog. So I went to Whois and did a search for the website. The results revealed the webmaster’s contact email and the host’s name (GoDaddy in my case). These are the two bits of information that you will need.
Once you have their contact information or have found the contact button on their blog, send them a DMCA email. Here’s a great example of it. I sent the email but did not wait to follow onto the next steps because I knew in my case, my emails would go unnoticed because this is apparently part of a big sting operation.
2. Send a DMCA to Web Host
Your next step is to send an email to their Web host. Web Hosting companies take copyright very seriously and usually have teams dedicated to combatting this issue.
Here is a list of some of the direct links to DMCA Takedown Request forms for some of the more popular hosting services:
Unfortunately for me, GoDaddy (of whom I’ve been a long time customer) has not been very efficient in handling this matter. The day after I found the first pirated article, I found another one and thus submitted another claim to GoDaddy. Instead of getting an email saying they were working on it, I received a chastising email saying,
“We ask that you do not submit duplicate complaints. Submitting duplicate complaints only creates unnecessary work and delays our response time.”
When I pointed out to GoDaddy that there were indeed separate blog posts, they responded telling me that I should have created one ticket with both URLs…which is exactly what I would have done, had I found both of them at once..but I didn’t. I found the other article 24 hours later. Annoying!
3. Send DMCA to Google
Next, up you will want to file a DMCA claim with Google. You’ll want to visit this link and fill out all of the information & click every single checkbox, otherwise, your claim may get rejected.
Here’s what I clicked on:
- Web Search
- I have a legal issue that is not mentioned above
- I have found content that may violate my copyright
- Then proceed to fill out all of the information
Now this has proven to be the most frustrating step for me. Most people online say that Google is vigilant about removing content from the web, however, in my case, I received an email that said,
Thanks for reaching out to us.
It is unclear to us whether or not you are the authorized copyright agent for the content in question. Only the copyright owner or an authorized representative can file a DMCA Infringement Notice on his/her behalf. Please note that you will be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys’ fees) if you materially misrepresent that a product or activity is infringing your copyrights.”
This was pretty frustrating considering that if you just looked at the URLs of the images you would see the link back to MY site. Anyway, I sent a courteous email with more details of why I WAS indeed the copyright owner. Luckily, I did hear back from Google and they assured me that the web page HAD been removed from Google Search.
3. Send DMCA to Facebook
Because I had originally found the copycat article on Facebook, the next thing I did was file a DMCA with Facebook. You can find out if your pirated content has been shared on Facebook by doing a search for the title of the article in the search bar. If anyone has linked to an article with that title, it will show up in the search results.
If you find that the stolen content has been shared on Facebook, then you’ll want to file a DMCA claim there as well. You can file a DMCA claim with Facebook here. In that form, you’ll want to make sure that you include the direct link to the Facebook post where you found the offending post.
Luckily for me, Facebook had the quickest response time and removed the pirated content within a few hours.
4. Change your RSS to “Summary” instead of full post
Most of these spammer sites are getting an RSS feed of your site and then copying and pasting it into their site. You can curb this by changing your RSS feed from “Full Summary” to “Excerpt”. In order to do this you’ll need to go to your WordPress Dashboard and click on Settings -> Discussion and change the RSS feed to Excerpt.
Now the spammers will only get a partial feed of your blog post. This will do one of two things. It will either deter them from copying your content or it will force them to visit your site to get the rest of the content. Which we will handle in the next step.
5. Disable Right Click on your blog
Now to prevent spammers from coming to your site and selecting, copying and pasting your content, you can disable the right click option on your blog which will prohibit them from copying ANYTHING on your blog. I personally installed, WP Copy & Protect to disable the right click on my blog.
I hope that this blog post helped you get the stolen content down from the thief’s website. If it did, I would appreciate it if you would share this blog with anyone else who might need it.