Let’s say you’re on a competitor’s website. Your scoping out their page to see what they’re up to with promotions, social, specials, etc. You come across a services page and notice that the content reads familiar. TOO familiar. And then you realize that you wrote it yourself a few months ago. The realization can be infuriating, and then there’s a sense of desperation. Can they get away with it? The answer is: it depends on how much you care. Hopefully your answer is “very much”, so let’s proceed.
Without going through every single one of your competitors’ websites, how would you know if your content is being stolen? Mentioned in the previous blog, Copyscape is a great resource for finding out if any of your pages have been lifted. Once you find a website that stole content from your site (with at least 30% of the content being similar), it is time for the three-step process:
- Cease and Desist
Typically, this is the first and last thing you’ll have to do. Calling and/or e-mailing the company and demanding that their content be taken down should be enough. Webmasters don’t want to deal with any implication of legal action or bad faith/karma by having a conflict with another business in their industry and even their relative location. It is good to be stern with the person you are contacting, with a sense of intimidation and urgency, but using any threats is not ideal. With the ball in your court, there isn’t any reason to give them leverage by making any excessive threats or claims. Follow up with them in a week or two to see if the content was removed.
The DCMA , or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, supports the copyright and works of a business digitally. Google takes the DCMA very seriously, and allows for you to petition having your works removed from another person’s website if copyright was infringed. This action can be taken as soon as you want, if you believe that the content thief won’t be ready to comply or is non-responsive
Cease and Desist
This legal document, typically put together by a lawyer, requires the website owner to discontinue posting your content on their site or legal action will ultimately be taken. If you’re aggressive in your pursuit for content being exclusive to your site, you may request this document immediately by all means.
There are cases where your content may be featured other places, while giving you credit, that may have a more nebulous legal implication. For example, if you wrote a blog, and your blog was taken and put on another website while still giving you complete credit and no manipulation was done, this may be more in your favor in the form of brand recognition and links back to your site. Be sure to keep in mind this only applies to content that was implicitly taken from your site with the purpose of being used on another website with absolutely no credit to you.