Copyright Infringement-How To Spot It and What To Do

Recently, I learned that another website was republishing not just some of my posts, but every single one of my posts to its own site without my permission. I was shocked, hurt and incredibly angry. As my regular readers know, I work very hard on my reviews and my blog as a whole, and I have put a huge amount of effort into building my site. I immediately began hunting for the contact information of the website’s owner (no easy task since the site contained no way of contacting the administrator). I was eventually able to find the information I needed and the posts have now been removed from the website.

While I didn’t realize it at the time, there were some warning signs that this was happening, and because copyright infringement is so prevalent on the Internet, I wanted to share the lessons I learned with my fellow bloggers.

The first warning sign was in my Feedburner details. On the bottom of the dashboard, there is information about uncommon uses of your feed. The website that had been taking my posts was the very first URL on that list. I had, to be honest, even clicked on the link at one point, but because the entire post was, word for word, my post, I didn’t understand what I was seeing. Since I had linked to the site from Feedburner, I mistakenly thought that I was just seeing an unusual way that someone had set up their feed for their personal use.

Check your uncommon feed uses every once in a while, and if there are any website URLs on the list, click the links and make sure that your content isn’t being used without your knowledge.

The other way of checking for copyright infringement is to Google your website’s name and check out any pages that you are uncertain about. The offending website was on the third page of my Google results. Make sure that you put your blog name in quotation marks to get the most relevant results.

To prepare your blog for any possible issues that may arise, having a detailed Terms of Use policy is essential. My website’s terms of use have been in place since January of 2010 and have fairly specific details regarding copyright infringement and linking policies. Giovanna Di Sauro has a detailed Terms of Use document available that has been authorized for use and modification in exchange for crediting the site with a link.

If you find that your content is being used without your permission, there are many websites that will give you detailed information regarding the various actions that can be taken to resolve the issue. Document the infringement with screen shots and any other relevant information before you act, because if the infringement resumes at any point in the future, the perpetrator can be charged with willful copyright infringement, which is a far more serious matter than an initial copyright infringement. There is useful information at Marketing Dock and Free Legal Documents about the actions you can take to have your content removed from the offending site. If you have any doubts or questions, consult with a lawyer if necessary. Initial consultations are often free and the information you can gain is incredibly valuable.

Because the website removed the posts, I have decided that I will not name it on my blog. I do, however, encourage all my fellow bloggers to be vigilant about protecting their work. We are women that just want to have a voice in a world that can sometimes forget the individual. Don’t let your unique voice be used for someone else’s profit. My work was used without permission and in direct violation of my terms of use for a full year before I became aware of it, but if my experience can help other bloggers to protect themselves and their work, then some value will have been gained from this incredibly hurtful event.

Disclaimer: I think that it goes without saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. Views expressed belong to Mommy Kat and Kids and are NOT influenced in any way. Please view full Terms of Use and Policies

8 thoughts on “Copyright Infringement-How To Spot It and What To Do”

  1. Some more of my thoughts about stealing intellectual property:

    It is my understanding that, once you create any intellectual property, it’s copyrighted and, until you give them up, you own all the rights for that work. You don’t have to register it.

    Stealing code: I’ve seen people who will dig through the coding of your website and steal all or portions of your code. This is difficult to track, but if something looks suspiciously like your page, they may have stolen the code. I once had a customer hire me to build him a website. Then he refused to pay me for it, after I had already posted it to a password protected area we used to let customers look at pages before we posted them to the Internet. He stole ALL the code and images, verbatim and reposted it on another. We won that one in court, after he tried to say, once it is posted, code is in public domain.

    Pirating pictures: As a semi-pro photographer who is published, I refuse to allow anyone I sell a picture to to post it on any social networking sites. Even then, I go through and google my images all the time and find pirated copies of my images on FaceBook, etc.

    According to my understanding of the DMCA, if you inform an ISP someone stole your intellectual property and is using it on their server they have to take it down, immediately. The excuses I have received claiming they don’t have to take my IP down are legion – I found a website with several of my images posted; the owner of the site said he wouldn’t take them down, because a webcrawler found them and so they were in the public domain. This is wrong. You don’t lose your copyright, because a webcrawler pirates your IP. I pointed this out to him and told him the next contact would be through my lawyer. The images were down in, literally, ten minutes.

    With all creative works, it seems like there is always someone willing to take shortcuts and steal the work of another. You have to be every vigilant.

    1. Excellent thoughts, thank you, Mike! I agree, the excuses can really be completely absurd. In the response I received from the site’s administrator, he actually claimed that since I publish my posts to an RSS feed, the feed is free to use. Pardon me?! The feed is free to read; my RSS is subject to the same copyright restrictions and terms of use as my site itself. In the same email in which he gave me this excuse, he also told me he would be taking down the posts. Clearly he knew that the excuse held no water….

  2. And that I find completely awful. The site put a link to my homepage on the sidebar and apparently thought that gave them the right to steal every post I have ever written. But with not a single link to one of the original posts, people had no way of finding the actual giveaway. Fortunately, the site didn’t get very much traffic and I don’t think anyone ever tried to enter there. (I sure hope not, anyways!)

  3. I guess they were also defrauding anyone who tried to enter the giveaways from their site, as they didn’t really have anything to give away.

  4. Usually, an infringer is either trying to sell something or is using your search rankings to boost traffic to their own site. This website was linked to a store selling footwear, and was also running Google AdSense. So essentially, any time someone went looking for my site, landed on the infringer’s site and clicked on an ad, the infringer was paid because of my efforts. I so agree, Jen, I’m sure Karma will deal with it eventually. Thanks for your support, ladies!

  5. This is disguising. I copy Fiona ^ I don’t get why someone would do this. We are not celebrity writers, we are not big companies, we are just ladies who enjoy products, reviews, writing and whatever else. Why would someone copy us I don’t know. If they wanted to start a review blog and take other people’s reviews, I doubt they would ever achieve anything! Karma always gets you back.
    Hope this won’t happen again!
    And I will definitely keep an eye on uncommon users and set some policies in place.

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