Monday, February 26, 2007

What to to when your content is taken

Since it's come up quite a bit on FoodBlogS'cool and I've personally had to deal with it a half a dozen times, I thought I'd share a bit about what to do when you find that your blog (in part or in whole) is ending up somewhere else on the web. (See more about Scraping at Wikipedia)

First, establish what is being taken and why. If someone is reposting a single post as a way to share it with others on their otherwise original blog, it's usually not an issue. They may have gone beyond the bounds of "fair use" but a simple email or comment on their blog to request that they use excerpts should suffice.

If you find that your entire blog content is being taken as you post it, then it's time to take action.

  1. Look at the site and determine what they're doing. Are they taking your entire feed and reposting it on their site. Are they taking more than one blog's content? Are they using an automated script to post excerpts based on search results? Are they hotlinking to your images? Are they linking back to your site? Are they reposting under a different copyright or CC license? Is the site monetized (ads or affiliate links)?
  2. Once you've figured out what they're doing with your content, take action immediately. If there is an email address displayed on the site, send them a note asking to be taken off of their site immediately. Give them 48 hours and check back. If there is no change, be prepared for further work.
  3. If the site is monetized, send a note to the "abuse" email addresses for whomever is the ad agency. Adsense, Adbrite and most other big ad companies have easy ways for reporting abuse.
  4. If the site is hosted at a site such as blogspot, livejournal, wordpress or other blog service, contact them to report the reposting of your content. You will need to provided links with a 1 to 1 comparison of content. Make it as EASY as possible for them to see that your information has been taken without your permission.
  5. If the site is self-hosted under a unique domain, go to to find out who registered the domain. Send an email requesting the removal of your material to the registrar.
  6. Through DomainTools you can also find out who hosts the site. Don't wait until step 5 works, go ahead and send a DMCA notice to the host. Usually you can do it via email, but be double-diligent and print out your email and either snail mail it or FAX it to them.
  7. Follow up on ALL of the above if nothing happens.

Now, it looks like this is a step-by-step process, but after you email the site owner, I say do everything else at the same time. Don't wait for the site to be de-monetized, go ahead and send the DMCA letter to the host.

Other helpful hints:

If you notice that your content is not the only site being scraped, see if you can figure out who else's is being stolen. Contact those bloggers and share your information. They may have other tactics to share and of course multiple emails from people complaining about DMCA violations to hosts are taken much more seriously.

Here are some great articles everyone should read:

What to do when someone is stealing your content
How long should a plagiarism case take?
DMCA Primer
Dealing with Website Plagiarism
How to Write an Effective DMCA Notice
Is Someone Stealing Your Content? The DMCA is Your Friend (Thanks for the pointer on that one Elise!)

So, who has an experience to share and other tips?

This Post was written by Cybele from Candy Blog


Elise said...

Hi Cybele,
I also wrote an article about it - Is Someone Stealing Your Content? The DMCA Is Your Friend.

Kalyn said...

Thanks to both of you for the great information. I'm bookmarking both of these. I find these sites all the time.

Cybele said...

Elise - thanks for the link, sorry I missed it in the round up. I put it in there so the feed-reading folks will catch it.

Jocelyn said...

It wasn't quite scraping, but I had a bit of an incident just yesterday with a non-blogger taking my content for a site. The recipe ingredients were altered slightly, but the instructions were mine and the recipe photo was lifted outright. I took action (notification, #1!) and did a little refresher research of my own on recipe copyright.

Looking at the person's recipe section, I fear other food bloggers may not be getting the credit they deserve as well - please feel free to check out the post (Some Bites About Rights) at my site, She Spills the Beans. There's a link to the site in the post - see if you recognize anyone else's wandering content!

SusanV said...

Joselyn, thanks for posting about this. I just found two of my photos and recipes on her site, and I'm furious. She did change the recipes slightly, but the use of the photos is indefensible.

I'm sure that she's stolen most of the photos on her site, and I wonder if there's a better way of handling this than just having her take them down. It just seems that she should be held accountable for her theft.

Cybele said...

SusanV & Jocelyn - if you catch her doing it again with your photos, contact the webhost and explain that it's a chronic issue.

Then send a bill for the use of the photo.

SusanV said...

Cybele, thanks for that tip. To follow up, she did take down my photos and claims that she just used them because she was hurriedly assembling a vegetarian recipe section on her site and didn't see my copyright notice. (She obviously doesn't understand that it's wrong even if there's no copyright notice displayed.) I'll check in there from time to time to see if I see anyone else's photos being used.

DrGaellon said...

A lot of people fail to understand that copyright exists, regardless of notice. You own the copyright on your photos, even if you don't state it. You also own the copyright on your recipe INSTRUCTIONS, IN YOUR WORDS. You cannot copyright a list of ingredients or a method of putting them together. Even if the ingredients are identical, and the steps are the same, if I rewrite the instructions in my own words, it's not plagiarized. If I change ONE ingredient and the relevant instruction, it's legally not actionable under DMCA (though it's still morally questionable).

I often cut-and-paste recipes from blogs to Recipezaar so I can find them easily (not, in principle, different from copying it into my old paper notebooks, except it's shared) - but I always ALWAYS provide attribution (RZ doesn't allow live links, but I at least provide a URL to the original site). Even if I've modified the recipe, I note the source and indicate I've "adapted" it.