Content Theft – What to Do
Every day, bloggers are victimized (whether they are aware of it or not) by having their content stolen, scraped, and unlawfully copied. This is unfortunate, as we understand how much you value your personal content and hard work. When this happens, and the culprit is a member of WordPress.com, we take immediate action, ensuring that your content is rightfully protected. When this happens, and the culprit is an externally hosted “splog” (spam blog) or web site, we are unable to take any direct action against the apparent violation. It is important for you, as a WordPress.com blogger, to understand the possible course of action that is able to be taken in order to protect your valued copyrights.
Here are the appropriate steps that you may take to file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice, should you determine that any of your content has been stolen or used in an unauthorized manner:
1) Determine which content has been stolen.
Is it an excerpt from one of your posts? Is it an entire post? Is there a link pointing to your original content? Make note of the specific URLs involved – you will need the URL containing the copied material, as well as the URL containing the original material, if available. Keep in mind that there are Fair Use principles that must be considered – these permit the certain use of material without express permission. For instance, if a blog is found to simply offer commentary on one of your writings or articles (much like a book or film review), you may not want to proceed with filing a DMCA complaint. Please note that the WordPress.com support staff will not provide any sort of legal advice regarding what may and may not be considered copyright infringement.
2) Determine whether or not the blog is hosted at WordPress.com.
If you see a link that reads “Blog at WordPress.com” in the footer of the blog (linked to http://wordpress.com), this normally means that it is hosted here (although external blogs may place this in the footer, if they choose to). Also, if you are logged into WordPress.com, you will see your gray-colored admin bar at the top of your screen. If this is, in fact, the case, you may submit a formal DMCA notice at the following address by following the instructions at the following URL: http://automattic.com/dmca. Be careful with this; externally hosted blogs using the WordPress.org software may have WordPress links and hooks. This does NOT mean, by default, that it is hosted here. If you are still unsure, please feel free to contact our support staff for clarification.
3) Attempt to contact the blog/site owner, advising them to remove your content.
While we do recommend this as your first course of action, it is important to note that it doesn’t always work. The owner of the infringing site may not have apparent contact information available for you to use – or they may simply ignore any requests that you send them.
4) Gather the appropriate host’s contact information.
If attempts to contact the site’s owner fail, your next step is to contact the site’s host. You will need to utilize some look-up tools in order to ascertain this information. Here are some resources:
- Finding the host: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/stopping-internet-plagiarism/3-finding-the-host/
- Finding the host’s DMCA/abuse contact information: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2009/07/16/6-steps-to-find-a-hosts-dmca-contact/
5) Compose your formal notice and send it to the host.
You may compose this on your own, but the following is an appropriate example containing all of the required information (a DMCA notice requires all of this information to be deemed valid). Feel free to use this, substituting your information where necessary and grammatically modifying as desirable.
[Registrar/Registrant/Agent Address]To Whom It May Concern:This letter serves as a formal Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law. I wish to report an instance of what I believe is an apparent illustration of Copyright Infringement. The infringing material in question appears on the Service for which you are the designated agent, registrar, or registrant.
1. The original material, published by me and found to be posted in an unauthorized manner, is the following:
Blog Post titled [Post Title];
Published by [Author's Full Name] (you also may indicate any “pen name” that you use on the blog for further verification purposes);
Published on [Original Publish Date];
Located at [Full URL of the Specific Article - must be complete]
2. The unauthorized material appears at the following URL:
[Full URL of the specific post/article/page containing the infringing content] on the domain [Full URL of the primary domain]
3. My contact information is as follows:
[City], [State] [Zip Code]
4. I believe, in good faith, that the use of the identified material, which appears on the aforementioned, offending web site, is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or in accordance with copyright law.
5. I swear that all of the information contained in this notification is accurate and true. As such, I declare that I am the copyright owner of the aforementioned material or an authorized party so designated to act on the behalf of said copyright owner.
Please advise me, as soon as possible, as to the action (if any) that will be taken, within what time frame, and to what extent said action may be taken. I appreciate your audience and cooperation in this matter.
[Your Valid Signature]
[Your Full Name]
Understand that when you submit a DMCA notice to a web host, the owner of the specific blog/site publishing the reported materials in question does have the right to review the notice in its entirety. If the owner does believe that he or she has the legal right to distribute or publish the reported materials (and that they were wrongly removed), a DMCA counter-notice may be filed. Unless you bring a lawsuit within 14 days, the host or service provider is required to reactivate the material. You can review further information regarding counter-notices and the put-back procedure here.