Every blog gets hit by someone who takes their content or photos and re-posts it, without linking back. So, what can we do about it? How do you get that person to stop stealing your content, or (at the very least) link you as the source.
I’ve had to deal with this once so far, and the offending party went to far as to link me as the source, then block my IP address, because they stole my content, and were hoping I wouldn’t be able to check again in the future (I am assuming).
It is important to note the different between someone stealing your self-written/created content (e.g. daily outfit posts) and someone stealing self-written/ attributed content (e.g. shopping posts). If I use a photo from a store website like Macy’s, I link to Macy’s to attribute where I got the content. Usually, I’ve screen-capped that photo, cut and edited it myself. If someone wants to use the image I posted, they should attribute me, because I created the image (not the clothing) and Macy’s, because that’s where you can purchase the item. It can be done as easily as writing “image via Miss Vinyl Ahoy, Baby Phat shoes from Macy’s” or whatever it might be.
If someone wants to use an image I post, they need only attribute it to me, since I took that photo. But, just because someone links back to my doesn’t mean they’re not infringing on my copyright. In order to not infringe on my copyright, someone must have my permission to use my content. Often, bloggers will have a copyright page saying they can/can’t reproduce or reuse anything. Dosh Dosh’s copyright page is a great example. Basically, you’re given permission to use anything on the site, following three regulations: link back to the specific article, excerpts of only 150 words and no commercial use. Sounds pretty standard to me!
In order to copyright your work, you have a few options. You can obtain a Creative Commons license. Basically what this free service does is allow you to create your own content distribution license. The service is really easy to use and it only takes a few minutes. If you don’t want to go that route, create a special page on your blog explaining what people are/aren’t allowed to do with your content and even the consequences. You can also protect your RSS feed. Basically you’re adding a line or two at the end of each post (visible only through RSS feed) that states your copyright. Fleur from Diary of a Vintage Girl does a great job of this. You don’t see the copyright on each post on her blog, but it shows up when I read them on my Google reader.
Now that you’ve protected yourself, how to do deal with those that are stealing your content? The first and easiest way is to contact that person directly, as I did. Send them an email and tell them they do not have permission to use your content. Usually (if they didn’t realize what they were doing, or are a decent person), they’ll apologize and offer to link to your site. If you don’t want just a link and you want them to take the content down, tell them to do so. If you want to be very fancy and professional, send a cease and desist letter.
If that doesn’t fix anything, contact their blog host. Usually, if it’s a US-based company, they’ll be happy to go in a remove your content from someone else’s blog. Again, sending them a letter/email will help. But, as in all cases, evidence is helpful. Take screenshots that include the date/time stamp at the bottom and send those along with the email.
If you really want to be difficult, contact the other blog’s sponsors. I doubt any company wants to sponsor a blogger that consistently steals and reproduces content. Again, make sure you have evidence and be prepared to fight. Because if you’re taking away someone else’s income, they’re going to fight back.
And, of course, there is always legal action. But, in most cases, it shouldn’t go that far. But if it does, make sure you have all your evidence and a good lawyer.
By the way, I’m not a lawyer, have no law degree and am not trying to give out any legal advice. I’m just trying to help my fellow bloggers protect their work.
Have any of you had to deal with this? How did you find out? What happened?
Along these same lines are people who reuse the same content to the point where there can be thirty+ blogs with the same photo or info on it. That’s not fun to read either, but that’s the beginning of a different post. That has more to do with keeping your content original, which I’ll have to write about shortly!