Take a look at the above blog articles. Look familiar? That’s right. The blog on the left (whose name has been changed to deny them any additional traffic from my blog) was copying whole articles off my blog. Actual cut-and-paste … without even attributing the article to me! This blatant unauthorized use really annoyed me. The blogger has private domain registration to hide his identity. Sure, I could send an email through the registrar, but that would only be ignored. Instead, I decided to take the following steps.
1. Check Your Copyright Filings
If you are writing a blog with original content, graphics and photos, you should be copyrighting your material. Jack Reznicki has a great DVD through Software Cinema called Copyrights & Copywrongs 2. It provides a full walk-through of the electronic submission process to the US Copyright Office. You only need to fill-out the forms once. You can then save the information as a template for future submissions. It is only $35 for as much data as you can upload within the 60-minute time limit; however, as Jack points out in the comments below, you can submit multiple uploads of data for the same registration. You can even Zip-up low-res images to make them easier to send.
Many photographers and graphic artists only submit their “Visual Works” for copyrights. But, if you are serious about blogging, you text is just as important. I suggest making two submissions, one for the textual “Literary Work” and one for the “Visual Works” of photos and graphics. (I also recommend including the unaltered versions of your graphic compositions.) Did you know that you can use PDFs for your “Literary Work” copyright submission? Marcos Rezende has the perfect WordPress plugin to use called Blog as PDF which will grab an entire category (or the entire blog) and save it as a PDF.
2. Use Digiprove.com and its WordPress plugin for independent verification of publication
Digiprove.com provides an independent third-party verification of your publication content and date. You can see the notice at the bottom of this article. Best yet, by using the WordPress plugin called Copyright Proof, the entire process is automated at the time of article publishing. Actually, Digiprove has been a wonderful help for securing authorship (including photographic rights internationally). Cian Kinsella from Digiprove put it this way:
“For a creator, establishing copyright hinges on being able to prove beyond doubt his or her possession of content before any other claimant. Digiprove’s patented technology removes any doubt because it makes it impossible (even for experts) to make undetected changes to digital data, and our certificates cannot be back-dated (even by us).
The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creativity by placing a value on creative works. We are delighted to support photoframd and other creators who use our free WordPress plugin, Copyright Proof, which will remain free-of-charge for non-commercial users.“
Just install the WordPress plugin and activate it. It will allow you to create a Digiprove account through the plugin’s Tools settings and start issuing certificates automatically with your next published article. Like I said, Digiprove makes it very easy for any blogger using WordPress!
3. Contact the Blog’s Host Provider
You are not the first blogger to have this problem and you will certainly not be the last. The host provider has a legal team in place just to handle this type of incident. The bigger the host provider, the easier the process. In my case, the bad blog was hosted by Fat Cow and it was a matter of emailing them a PDF signed letter stating that I was the copyright holder and providing clear proof of infringement (namely a table of my original blog URLs and the URLs of the bad blog’s unauthorized use).
DNSstuff.com has free tools for Whois and Traceroute to find the host information. Once you find the host provider, contact their Technical Support Team to open a job ticket. Tech Support will direct you to the proper contact within their company to start the process.
By contacting the Blog’s host, I put the burden on Fat Cow to contact the site owner. In fact, they immediately sent an email to the blogger stating:
Please remove or disable access to the alleged infringing material within 48 hours, and provide written notice to us to that effect when completed. Failure to eliminate or disable access to such alleged infringing material within such time period could result in suspension or termination of your website.
My articles were removed from the bad blog within a few hours. Now that is a response! Of course, you still have the right to sue for the copyright infringement and unauthorized use. But, if you just want the bad blogger stopped, this is your easiest solution.
8 Replies to “Plagiarism & Stealing Blogs – What To Do – Stop It Now”
Thanks for the plug on my DVD! Just a clarification, the Copyright Office upped the upload timeout to 60 minutes from 30. And as I explain in the DVD, you can do multiple uploads. So you can do 3 or 4,or more, 60 minute uploads. They just time out at 60 minutes.
Also, I just started a blog with well known copyright lawyer Ed Greenberg at http://www.thecopyrightzone.com
And we just announced our first “Talking till We’re Blue in the Face” legal workshop for photographers. Check it out.
Thanks for the comments Jack! You DVD is a great help to any photographer who want to finally tackle the copyright submission process. Good luck with the Copyrightzone.com and your Blue in the Face workshops!
This is the kind of situation I would simply forward to my lawyer. I’ve done so in the past (when someone’s ‘borrowed’ a photo), and he sends a standard cease and desist through the proper channels. All I have to do is send him the links. Peace of mind = totally worth it.
Many bloggers, photographers and artists just starting out don’t have the luxury of hiring an attorney at $250 an hour. I hope that this article will give them the support they need to take action themselves.
From what we see, photography and blogging are probably the two biggest areas where people are experiencing being ripped off. Because it’s easy to do. I reckon most thefts go unnoticed (the internet is a big place), 99% of the rest nothing gets done about, and for the 1% the worst that happens is a cease and desist letter.
Rasmus is in the minority, being able to afford a solicitor’s letter every time someone steals his work, and imo if you can afford a solicitor’s letter you should be asking for payment as well as demanding taking the image down, otherwise it’s just money out the door for some personal satisfaction.
Digiprove provides a “set it and forget it” solution for anyone using WordPress. Being able to securely prove a publication date is a powerful tool in protecting the rights of writers, photographers and artists. It’s a wonderful service! Thanks again!
thanks for the info. i work with a lot of students who are just starting out and could use this to help protect their work.
Thanks a lot!
Glad to help!