Anyone who produces content online is likely to find themselves in a situation where their content has been stolen. This might be a copy and paste of their words, a photo being used to sell a product that is not theirs, or even a fraudulent website designed to look like your own. When this happens, you need to know what to do. Below is a quick guide to some of the steps you can take.

Your Content Has Been Stolen—What to Do

Your Content Has Been Stolen — What to Do

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the law that protects you in the United States. This law was designed to bring copyright infringement laws to the internet, which up until 1998, when the bill was passed, had been even more of a wild west than it is now. This law gives you some recourse when it comes to having your intellectual property stolen online. But how can you get the ball rolling on that?

Document the Theft

Take screenshots that prove that the theft has taken place. This means screenshots of both the stolen content and your own, even if nothing was changed by the person who stole it. If possible, screenshot the dates showing when the content was posted. The more you have, the better.

Start at the Bottom of the Chain of Command

And that means contacting the owner or management of the site where you content has been placed. In many cases, people do not understand intellectual property laws, or even the idea of it. With luck, you will contact them and they will remove it. To cover your tracks, use a cease and desist letter for this contact.

Then Contact the Web Host

They refuse to take it down or do not respond to your contact? Or perhaps there was no way to contact them? Time to contact the web host. will get you the information you need. In this contact, you should include all proof of the theft as well as your efforts to contact the site owner first.

Then Contact Google

What can Google do? They can penalize the website by ensuring that any rankings related to the content go to you, not the thief, which means that their plan will have backfired. However, if the theft starts to hurt your rankings, the best course of action at this point will be to change your site.

Can You Take it Further?

Yes, you can take the thief to court. However, this may be difficult, or even impossible if they are not in the US. Even if they are, you will end up spending more money doing so than just changing items on your own site.

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September 1, 2017

Your Content Has Been Stolen — What to Do

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