How To Defend Yourself When Someone Plagiarizes Your Website Text

Posted by on Apr 22 2015

I hate when people steal text from my website and used it on their own website. Dirty rotten scoundrels!

So what do you do? First, understand that most hosting companies and domain name registrars will take down a site that is fraudulent or that plagiarizes someone else’s site, as long as you can show them proof. Even Google has a process to help you. They’re on your side.

Next, gather as much information about the offending site as you can. Print out all pages from their site where the plagiarized text resides. Go to WhoIs Search and get all their registration information. Also, try Alexa and find whatever contact information you can there.

Finally, write to the offending site owner and tell them that you found plagiarized text on their site. List the URLs of the offending pages along with the copyrighted URLs of your own pages. Give them two or three days to either delete the pages, or re-write them so that they no longer include your text. This is not the time to play nice! Tell the offending site owner that you are copying their hosting company and domain registrar on the letter, and do so.

Make sure when you write this email or letter, you don’t use any passive language, and do not say “please.” Demand your rights. It is illegal and unethical for them to do what they did and they need to stop doing it immediately.

Always put a copyright statement on your site. If it took you a long time to write your text, you should be the only one benefiting from it, not some unethical person who is looking for a shortcut. Even better, copyright your site with your national government (in the USA, visit the Copyright Office website for instructions on how to copyright your website).

I have written to the four sites that stole my text. Two of them are in Australia. Did they really think because they were on the other side of the world that I couldn’t find them by doing a simple Google search?

And you want to know a real hoot? One of these people actually called me, asking about becoming one of my clients! I went out to her site and saw my text on it. How dumb is that?

Don’t let people make you crazy. Stealing text and images is rampant on the internet, and while there’s no excuse for this bad behavior, you have to decide how far you want to go to get them to remove your text from their website. At some point, it becomes a huge waste of time and energy if you let it consume your day. I’ve found that 85% of people will comply with your request within a week. Then decide if you want to take any further steps against those who continue to misbehave.

   

14 comments for now

14 Responses to “How To Defend Yourself When Someone Plagiarizes Your Website Text”

  1. Anonymous

    Karyn,

    I am sitting here writting to you with my jaw dropped. I cannot believe people would do this. It shows how much they enjoy your work (in an odd way) but it also shows how little they think of their own capabilities and integlligence.

    Good luck in getting them!
    Sandra

    03 Feb 2006 at 10:49 pm

  2. Karyn GreenstreetNo Gravatar

    Sandra,

    What I found really amazing was that they didn’t just steal a phrase or two, they stole PAGES of text from my site.

    Thank goodness for Google.

    Karyn

    03 Feb 2006 at 11:13 pm

  3. EmailHosting.com

    I would guess this happens all the time. It’s so hard to monitor.

    04 Feb 2006 at 3:35 am

  4. Maryam

    Karen, you have my sympathies. I have had an entire website including look, feel and BANDWIDTH stolen as the yutzes (plural) that did it put the full links to my image files. That really cut to the quick. And they had the temerity to upbraid ME for “not being willing to share as we’re all in this together”. I called their ISPs and got the suckers shut down. Another graphic I made has been on countless websites and we’ve fought every one. Most people simply don’t realize what they’re doing is wrong (though ignorance is no excuse) and a simple reference to: http://www.whatiscopyright.org sets them straight. You might want to put this URL on the main blog page when you write your follow up. Education is everything! Especially when it’s a newbie – most of the time they truly think that anything on the internet is free. Whatiscopyright.org is very explicit and written for the plagiarist.

    Another good reference is copyscape.com, which has banners and further protections you can put on your site pages. The one file I KEEP FINDING all over the energy coaching world (my niche) on other people’s websites, I put the CopyScape banner on the head and footer. That’s stopped a lot of it.

    Google does rule indeed…

    Good Luck!
    Maryam Webster

    04 Feb 2006 at 9:43 am

  5. Barry Zweibel

    I use the copyscape tool, as well, scanning pages on a somewhat regular basis – and I, too, am amazed at how many sites so blatantly cut and paste from mine to theirs.

    What I’ve found, though, is that most often it’s not the site’s owner who has done the deed, but their web designer. And once I show the site’s owner how much has actually been scraped from me (I send them the copyscape URL which beautifully highlights the duplicated text), they typically apologize and quickly have it removed.

    Every now and then there’s a particularly silent/non-responsive person and I have to turn up the heat. But for the most part, they’re more embarrassed than I am annoyed.

    04 Feb 2006 at 4:51 pm

  6. Karyn GreenstreetNo Gravatar

    Hi, Maryam,

    How did you ever discover that someone had linked to a graphic on your site?

    Karyn

    04 Feb 2006 at 2:49 pm

  7. Anonymous

    Hi Karyn,
    You can take a look at your sites stats in whatever hosting tool you use and if you do depth stats, you can see where the image is being called *from*. When I saw that http://www.dumbasscoach.com (not their real URL) was calling on 20% of my bandwidth, I went and looked, then looked at the source code of the plagiarized pages at multiple sites. A check of the offending site’s source code clearly shows the links back to your own site. And if the links are being hit a lot, it will show up as bandwidth hogging in your stats. A distinct no-no and very illegal. So check the source code wherever they have an image inserted!

    Cheers,
    Maryam Webster

    05 Feb 2006 at 9:08 pm

  8. Ellen BrittNo Gravatar

    Karen this is so timely, as one of my students just asked for advice about this very topic. I’ll pass this on to her…thanks!

    Ellen

    21 Jul 2009 at 1:36 pm

  9. Karyn GreenstreetNo Gravatar

    Glad you found it helpful, Ellen. I have this problem so often that my virtual assistant has a monthly “task” to handle plagairism problems. She’s good at it, too! 🙂

    Warmly,
    Karyn

    21 Jul 2009 at 2:35 pm

  10. Geoff BurnetteNo Gravatar

    Hi Karyn,

    Great article with solid info I had not thought about.

    I just got my blog set up in the past few months and put a lot of time and effort into quality high content articles. It hadn’t occurred to me to be sure no one has/will use my material for themselves w/o permission.

    I appreciate the heads up.

    Thanks,
    Geoff Burnette

    04 May 2010 at 9:16 am

  11. […] Go after the most egregious thieves, especially those who are direct competitors.  Here’s how. […]

    28 Jun 2010 at 12:08 pm

  12. […] 2. Go after the most egregious thieves, especially those who are direct competitors. Here’s what to do once you discover your text has been stolen. […]

    01 Jan 2013 at 3:42 pm

  13. Jan ZobelNo Gravatar

    Great article. I DO think, as others have mentioned, that people think anything on the Internet is free (and freely available for anyone’s use). As I reduce my tax practice and head towards retirement, I’m on the lookout for appropriate tax folks to refer my clients to. One woman got excellent reviews so I looked at her website before contacting her. There I found 2 pages of copyrighted information that I send out to my clients. It has deadline dates, costs of my services, ways of reducing my fees, etc. She had just removed my name and inserted hers and put it on her website. Interestingly enough, my version wasn’t on my website; she took it from a paper copy. This is not someone I want to refer clients to!

    02 May 2015 at 4:56 am

  14. Tina ClarkeNo Gravatar

    With images when you know which graphic has been stolen you can re-save your graphic with a different file name. Then make a graphic that says “I stole this photo from http://yourwebsite.com I am a thief” (or whatever you want to say) and save that under the old file name. That way it will appear on their site. Of course you only want to do this for a while as they are stealing your bandwidth. I refuse to jump through other people’s idea of HOW I should complain, so I never bother to do it their way, I just complain to them to their advertisers host domain host clients etc etc till they stop. Why should I do the work? Of course with some graphics (I have an art site) its of benefit to me that my artwork is shown, if they have said where it is from and given a link back I let the bandwidth issue pass. With artwork you don’t want your images blocked from any thing with potential so using the server side option of http://www.davidairey.com/stop-image-theft-hotlinking-htaccess/ is not an option I care to use, thought it might suit anyone whose site is not primarily about images such as art/photographs. However, Just following up with my server stats is the best way to go. (If you are not sure ask your host where they are) Plus if you don’t have it, get it. That is, https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools It will help you with your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your website and help you keep an eye on things.

    07 May 2015 at 2:14 pm



Category: Website Planning