Not that long ago, there was a conversation around the geeky blog community about content theft because many of us were having our content pulled without our consent, including me. It’s not the first time I have had my content taken without my permission and it probably won’t be the last, but I do have safeguards in place to help me with the process of getting the stolen content taken down. And I am going to share all of that with you in this post.
I’m going to divide this post into two sections. The first will be what to do before your content gets stolen and the second being what to do after. If after you read through this and you are still struggling, or need some legal advice due to your content being stolen, try contacting a professional such as those at Dhillon Law for advice.
Before Your Content Has Been Stolen
Creative Commons License
A Creative Commons License is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted “work”. Wait, but don’t we not want free distribution of our work?! Yes, and creative commons licenses help put parameters as a starting point. You can define whether people can freely take your work or they can only do derivatives, whether any work based on your can be used commercially or not, and clearly define attribution credit. For an example of this at work, here is what my creative commons license is.
You can have a Creative Commons button created at https://creativecommons.org/choose/ and you definitely should use this tool because it gives you an embed to add to your site and makes the license identifiable for computers in case of issues.
Creative Commons licenses are a great starting point, but you should absolutely also have a clearly defined copyright notice on your site as well. The copyright notice gives you a chance to add more detail about your policies. However, copyright notices should still be fairly brief in nature, as they are usually found in the footers or sidebars.
Here is my current copyright disclaimer which I have placed on my sidebar, so it is on every page of my site.
A Geek Girl’s Guide © 2019. All Rights Reserved. Do not use or reproduce content without permission. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michelle Stallings and A Geek Girl’s Guide with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. A Geek Girl’s Guide claims no credit for any images featured on this site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to it’s respective owners. A Geek Girl’s Guide is in no way responsible for, or has control of, the content of any external website links or embedded streaming videos. Information on this site may contain errors or inaccuracies. If you own rights to any of the content and wish to have it removed please contact us.
You can see it is more detailed than purely a creative commons license, but still covers things fairly briefly. It covers things from use of my content to recognizing the use of other’s content such as imagery. It is essentially one sentence max per note you want to define.
Overall, whatever policies you set in place, you are the one who has to enforce them. They aren’t deterrents for theft but protections for you.
After Your Content Has Been Stolen
Unfortunately, even with all of the protections in place, there is always a chance that your content will still be stolen. So now let’s cover what to do when that occurs.
Create a DMCA Takedown Notice
You will need to have a formal takedown notice when you begin approaching this issue. I’ll break down the specific uses in the below sections which depend on who you are contacting.
DMCA notices are definitely detailed, so that is why I am giving you a DMCA Takedown Notice template that you can use when you need to email any of the contacts that clearly breaks down everything you need to include.
Contact the Site Owner
Once you have created a DMCA notice, the first thing you should do is contact the site owner to request they take down the stolen content. This can just be an email. You will want to pull from your DMCA notice for this, mainly the parts that explicitly state what the content is and where it is on their site and yours. Including links to your policies is also a good idea. You will also want to include that refusal to remove your content or lack of timely response will lead you to reach out to their hosting provider. If you can resolve the issue with them prior to reaching out beyond them, that is ideal. It is also required by many places that you attempt to resolve the issue with the site owner first.
Contact the Site’s Hosting Provider
If you end up not resolving this with the site owner, you can then go to the hosting provider with your official DMCA Takedown Notice. They have the power to tell the site owner to remove the content or they will shut down their site, since stealing content usually violates their terms of service. Contacting the hosting providers do involve very specific details, which is why I gave you all a DMCA Takedown Template to use so you do not miss anything.
How do you find the hosting provider for a site? You can use Who Is Hosting This, a site that will look up who the hosting provider for a website is.
Some providers have forms on their sites for filing abuse claims that you can use. WordPress.com has a specific form to fill out is the violating website is a wordpress.com site. Other’s you have to email them directly, such as contacting their support services.
From there, the provider will review the notice and take care of it from there. They will contact you about the process, whether you need to give more information or if they want you to confirm the content removal. So keep an eye on that until you know the issue has been resolved.
When Is It Worth Pursuing a Takedown?
Different people have different opinions on this so it really is up to you. I personally will always at least review the content and check for some specifics, like:
- Is the post copied verbatim?
- Does the post have appropriate attribution?
- Does this site have ads? (Potentially making revenue off my content)
- What kind of site is it? (RSS feeds versus a blog kind of comparison)
- Do I have the time to take care of this right now?
And the ultimate question is: Did this site have my consent to post this? The answer is going to be no 99.9% of the time for me because I don’t cross-post my content or let reposting occur even with my consent.
Ultimately, it is your call. I honestly do not think there is really ever a good reason to let content theft slide, which is why I wrote this whole post and provided resources to help you out if and when the time comes to have to deal with this issue.