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Google to the Rescue

CopyrightThe other day I was doing some online research and I came across an article that sounded familiar. As I read the article I realized it was a poorly spun rendition of one of my articles.  A few words were changed here and there but there was no doubt in my mind that it was my article.

Filing a DMCA

In the past when I filed a DMCA against an offending website, I filed it with the hosting company. The hosting company in that case was HostGator and they made it very easy to have the copyrighted information removed. This time around it isn’t so straight forward. The domain registrant used a private service to hide the Who Is information.

Not being able to access the web hosting company info, I decided on plan B; contact the site’s advertisers. Naturally, they had AdSense ads plastered all over so it was easy to determine which advertiser to contact.

Content ThiefFiling a DMCA with Google

I went over to Google’s site and completed their DMCA form. Just like HostGator, they make it easy to file the report.

I completed the necessary information on June 2nd and clicked “Submit.” Imagine my surprise when 4 days later I received a response from the Google team. They notified the offending website to which the site responded It wasn’t my fault, it was the unscrupulous freelancer’s fault…” or something to that effect. They immediately removed my work.

Google left it up to me to pursue the matter further. If I wanted to expend the time and effort, I could push to have their account removed from the AdSense program, but I didn’t think that was necessary. I just wanted them to remove my work.

Score one for the home team!

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • kidgas June 7, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Congrats on getting your content back. I often wonder how much stuff is actually out there being plagiarized and what an easy solution might be. Do you have any good answers for this or do you just rely on luck to run across stuff of yours that is copied?

    • Felicia June 7, 2011, 2:35 pm

      I used to rely on Google Alerts to tell me when my work was plagiarized but I stopped. There were too many instances and it aggravated me too much. All of that negative energy had me heading in the wrong direction (chasing offenders without getting my work done).

      Now when I write I assume it will be plagiarized. It’s only when I come across it during my online research do I bother to file a complaint. If I had a team of people, I’d assign one person to the task of chasing down plagiarists. It’s sad that we have to even think such things, but that’s life as an online writer.

  • Deanna June 7, 2011, 9:29 pm

    I’ve had good luck with Google taking care of plagiarism quickly too. I was actually amazed the first time I contacted them and they had resolved it in 48 hours. Guess I’m not used to big companies working hard to please customers. I may not like the fact that Google practically controls the Internet but I do have to admit that they always pay on time and take care of problems quickly. 🙂

    • Felicia June 7, 2011, 9:37 pm

      48 Hours, that’s impressive! I agree with you about not liking Google’s control, but liking their quick response and timely payments.

  • Gina K June 7, 2011, 9:53 pm

    I had a similar experience with an article a month or two ago, googled “stolen content” and came up with a good post by writer, Angela England: “What do I do if someone steals my blog content?”. I followed her advice and sent an email to the culprit. After a day or two with no response I told them I was going to file a DMCA within 24 hours if the content remained up. It worked like a charm. BTW, long time fan, first post!

    • Felicia June 7, 2011, 10:05 pm

      Welcome Gina.

      I used to send emails to the culprit, but found that sometimes they took too long to respond. I guess I’m just impatient. Now I go straight to the hosting company or Google.

      BTW, Angela knows her stuff. She gives sound advice.

  • Angela June 8, 2011, 7:30 am

    Ouch! seems a little harsh, IMO. Did you know for sure that it was your content? Maybe they could have gotten it from somewhere else and rewrote it, who knows. Writers usually do their research from other articles to get info and to learn about the topic etc, etc.,then they write about the topic. At least this is what most writers do, then put the source at the bottom of the article. I like Gina’s approach to first contact the person and let them know that you will be reporting them to DMCA if the content is not removed. I don’t think getting their account cancelled with AdSense…is necessary,IMO. Thanks for the great post as usual. Learn something new everyday.


    • Felicia June 8, 2011, 7:53 am

      Angela, it’s all a matter of how you want to spend your time.

      I’ve got quite a lot of articles online that are plagiarized daily. A writer knows her work when she sees it. Because I have so much on my plate, I choose not to spend time asking and waiting and following up. It is a tactic to take, but I’d rather get directly to the meat of the matter, resolve the issue and move on to my next project.

      If the work was not plagiarized, the offender would have defended the article and not taken it down. My method is not for everyone, but it works just fine for me.

      BTW, my post indicated that I didn’t pursue getting their AdSense account suspended. Maybe you misread my original post.

      • Kristine June 17, 2011, 5:48 am

        Using copied content is against TOS, and Google seems to shut down accounts left and right for less. But, honestly, your work was blatantly stolen, the site’s adsense account should be dinged. It’s the only way to get scrapers to stop. Once it’s no longer profitable for the content thieves, such thievery will happen less.

  • Maria (WriterGig) June 8, 2011, 8:49 am

    I agree, Google is quick to respond to such complaints. I’ve only filed with them a few times but they were very efficient.

    I also had to file a complaint with Yahoo! once (my entire article was copied and pasted on a Yahoo Answers page) and they even followed up with a phone call.

    • Felicia June 8, 2011, 8:59 am

      Maria, that’s encouraging news. I’m hoping that things will evolve to the point where plagiarists will think twice before copying someone’s work.

      • Vivian Babcock June 17, 2011, 10:09 pm

        Hi Felicia,

        For a long time I had put off writing anything because I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to be a writer, and if I had anything real to contribute to the writing world. A couple of years ago, I started taking classes online at University of Phoenix where I quickly learned about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

        Once I learned that I can use others work to help me in my own work, as long as I give the author their rightful credit, and learned how to properly cite my sources (which is time consuming and tedious sometimes when doing a research paper, but necessary) plagiarism was no longer a problem.

        I keep a APA reference guide at my desk, which helps me cite my sources properly when I am unsure how to cite a website, blog, or article.

        I believe that those that plagiarize are a bit of both lazy and ignorant. Ignorant in knowing that coping someones work as their own is wrong, (morally, legally, and financially) and lazy for those that do know this and still do not comply, again morally, legally, and financially.

        I found your Newsletter/Blog by chance while researching Textbrokers, before submitting my W-9 to them, there is no way I am giving my soc. out to just anyone. I am glad I came across your review, I even checked your cross reference. I am pleased to know that I have found a legit company to work with. Thank you for all your interesting comments, I enjoy reading them and have subscribed to your Newsletter/Blog.

  • Alina Bradford June 8, 2011, 2:27 pm

    Gotta love it when the thieves try to blame you for their theft.
    I think you did the right thing. No need to get in an email tussle with these people. Go straight to the people that can put down the hammer!

    • Felicia June 8, 2011, 2:46 pm

      Thanks Alina. That’s just how I was thinking.

  • Robin Elizabeth Margolis June 17, 2011, 5:06 am

    Dear Felicia:

    Thanks for this article! For the first time, I tried an online plagiarism tool. I chose a very technical healthcare article I’d written which ranked well on Google.

    Much to my surprise, I discovered that another website had stolen it, removed most of the research references — I guess to make it look less ‘stolen’ — and posted it without attribution.

    I had sold the article to an organization for their website, and have notified them that the article was ‘scraped’ from their website. I think they will take action as they do not like articles being taken from their website.

    If they don’t take action, I will.

    It amazes me that someone would rather steal other peoples’ work than do a little bit of research.

    I checked several of my other articles that are popular — have written hundreds, so cannot check them all — but this article was the only one that was swiped, so far.

    Thanks again!


  • Kristine June 17, 2011, 5:45 am

    Smart way to go about it. I’ll have to remember that. I’ve also contacted hosts and had good luck contacting the site when an email address is provided. I just don’t get these content thieves, banking on people not knowing what to do or not finding the work I guess.

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