These days, copying content on the internet is extremely easy. Just one click of a button and boom, you can now see your content on someone else’s web page or profile.
This kind of plagiarism is not only illegal but also disrespects the entire effort you have put in to create your very own content. If you see that your content has been stolen and/or misused, here are some basic steps to help you out.
What to do when someone steals your content? First and foremost, breathe. Before actually doing anything, you must have a calm mind because acting out of despair will not get you anywhere. In fact, it will make things worse.
While it’s absolutely natural to feel angry, upset, or stressed, you must remember to keep calm. There are many solutions for you to get your content back safely but it’s important for you to know the process and what you need to go through.
When you feel you’re in a clearer place mentally, it’s time for you to take the first step. Take screenshots of the stolen content. If you’re wondering whether screenshots can be used as evidence or not, we are here to tell you that in a litigation process, they can be used as evidence.
To properly report the stolen content, you need to take full-page screenshots of the website. Stillio is a software that lets you automate the process of taking full-length screenshots of any webpage and store them in your backup or cloud for later use. Remember to include the date and time in the screenshot, as well as the URL. Stillio also has a timestamp feature that lets you do that.
If you need to see when the content was originally put up on the site, you can use the Wayback Machine. In case you encounter this problem constantly, it’s always good to keep a constant record of your website with the timestamps by web archiving. Stillio will help you take regular screenshots according to intervals set by you so that you won’t have to do it manually.
3. Identify who’s behind the website
The next step is to look for the website’s owner. If you can clearly see the name of the owner on the site itself, good for you. Otherwise, you can look for a contact form. You also need to find the registered domain, a task that can be done easily using a WHOIS search. WHOIS search is a service provided by the ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers). A search toolbar is present where you can enter the domain name or any internet number resource.
4. Contact the website’s owner
In order to report stolen content, you need to contact the website’s owner first. Explain the situation to them politely since they may have mistakenly copied your content and passed it off as their own. You can even send them a link to the original content that you had created as proof. Ask them to take it down and urge them to not do it in the future again. If the owner has acknowledged their mistake and rectified it, then all is well and you don’t have to do anything further.
If, however, you see that the owner has not yet responded or is refusing to cooperate, you should file a DMCA complaint.
5. Submit a takedown request
In case the website owner has not taken down the infringed content, you need to take action and file a DMCA complaint. DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a very helpful tool that lets content owners ask website administrators to take down plagiarized materials without going into any litigation processes. A DMCA complaint can be made either by yourself or via an authorized representative who knows the workings of cyber security.
Here, you need to contact the website’s host whose information you obtained earlier via special software tools. A copyright infringement notice needs to be prepared accordingly. Every host has its own DMCA instructions but it can be hard to find them. If you can’t find those instructions, the Copyright Alliance has a complete list. If you can’t find it on the Copyright Alliance list either, you’ll have to make your own draft.
Some of the minimum requirements required in the DMCA complaint notice are:
- A physical or e-signature of the person authorized to act on the behalf of the owner of the original content,
- Identification of the plagiarized work,
- Identification of the content that is claimed to be infringing or the subject of any such activity,
- Sufficient contact information of the person filing the complaint,
- A statement that the notification made by you is accurate and under the penalty of perjury.
This usually results on the host pulling the page from the server, and no further action will be needed. Here’s a video from the Copyright Alliance covering the entire process.
6. Report the page in search engines
Even after so much hard work, there’s a small chance that the host will make no attempts to contact you or take down the content.
But don’t worry, DMCA also applies to popular search engines like Google or Bing. You might not be able to completely remove the site from existence but you can take steps to prevent it from appearing in search engines.
Copyright removal is a relatively simple process where you have to fill out a form stating basic details about yourself. Then, you will have to describe the copyrighted work along with the URL having the authorized work as well as the URL that has the location of the infringing content.
Be very careful before submitting the form since any kind of misrepresentation made in your plea can be used against you. This can also include extra costs as well as attorney fees. If you’re not sure about how to fill out the form, we would suggest you talk to an attorney first.
7. Seek legal help
If everything else seems to fail, you can always seek out legal advice. Since lawsuits are costly affairs, you should only take this step if you have enough funds and nothing else is working in your favor.
Note: Even though DMCA is a widely used tool, there are many other local alternatives you can choose. For example, Canada has the Notice and Notice Regime and the EU has a European E-Commerce Directive. Before choosing any of these tools, make sure you do your research thoroughly.
These are the available options to take down stolen content. Keep in mind that legal steps should be taken in the end when you have no other options left. Refer to the Copyright Alliance’s webpage for more information and feel free to book a demo with Stillio in order to understand how to collect all the necessary evidence.