How to Combat Plagiarism When DMCA Notices Are Ignored
Complacency Keeps Plagiarists in Business
I’ve heard it too often and I just don’t understand it. While most writers I know are incensed by finding their copy stolen and posted elsewhere, others are of the mind that it’s a compliment to their work and they simply don’t have the time to confront the thief.
How long does it take you to come up with an article that’s ready for the Publish button? I don’t know about you, but between research, writing, choosing photos, and editing, it can take me anywhere from several hours to two days to produce an article I deem worthy of publication.
Conversely, it takes only 10 to 20 minutes to file a DMCA notice.
Complacency keeps ill-doing alive. Just look around you. Look at what the world’s come to. But that’s not today’s subject. Today’s subject is about combating personal and literary violation.
Let me ask you a question: If your home is broken into and family heirlooms and/or representations of your hard work are stolen, will you relinquish your right to file a police report and try to recover that which is rightfully yours? After all, isn’t it a compliment to you that someone valued what is precious to you enough to steal it? I’m being very sarcastic, but I hope I’ve made my point.
Don’t be complacent; fight back.
Jane’s Addiction "Caught Stealing" – Not my kind of music, but it gets the point across
HubPages Lets Us Know When Our Work Has Been Stolen
I know many reading this have expressed their dismay and even contempt for HP of late, but the truth is they do the heavy work for us when it comes to identifying potential plagiarism. Just check out your Account page and look for the copyright symbol next to a title. Click on the title, and you – and only you, as the author – are given a link to see where your copy has been found.
They even go so far as to make it easy for you to file a DMCA notice. When you click on the File DMCA button, you’re given the copy and links you need to file. All you need to do is copy and paste the text into your email. They even include your signature. What more can you ask for?
Still too busy? Still don’t care? Shame on you.
Below is a screen shot of a notification HP has provided me for one of my articles that’s been plagiarized. This particular article has been stolen three times since I first posted it in 2011. I was able to get it taken down the first two times by posting a comment on the offender’s website. This time, I wasn’t so lucky. I gave him two chances, and then I filed an official DMCA complaint. Note that HP wasn’t able to give me the email address to send the complaint to, so I did some homework, which leads me to my next point of combat.
Know Your Rights Under the U.S. Copyright Law
Do Your Homework
HP couldn’t locate the address for me to send my complaint, so I did my homework. If you really consider yourself a writer, you research. Whether for non-fiction, how-to’s, or fiction, research is key to making your presentation believable. So, why wouldn’t you perform research to find the perpetrator of your stolen goods?
Whois.com is where to go to find the domain owner, webmaster, host, etc. That’s where I went.
Go into whois.com.
Enter the name of the link (found after the http:// and before/ but after .com or whatever). In this case, it’s rebelmouse. You’ll get a message that the domain name is not available. Click on the box that says “whois” and you’ll get a listing of all the information related to that domain name, including email addresses. This is a powerful tool. Bookmark it and use it.
I then sent a formal DMCA notice to rebelmouse via email on July 9, 2016. It went unanswered and unaddressed.
Today is July 23, 2016 and I’m pissed.
Your Intellectual Work is Protected by The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
What do I do? I don’t settle, that’s for sure. I went into my Google Webmaster Tools page and searched for recourse. I can’t have them take the site down through the Remove option because the link is still live and festering.
So I put on my thinking cap. I WILL NOT let this sonofabitch get away with his theft when I’m so close on his tail.
I posed a question in the Webmasters Tool Forum:
“I have an article I wrote and posted on 10/14/11 about maintaining your septic tank naturally. It has been copied in its entirety, including the unique title, on 4/4/16. The only difference is the copied article includes several links to a product that doesn't exist in my original version. I've sent a DMCA notice to the plagiarist on 7/9/16. It has been ignored.
Here's the link to my article: https://dengarden.com/misc/Maintaining-Your-Septic-Tank-Without-Chemicas
And here's his: https://www.rebelmouse.com/grouchystudent369/green-tip-1-maintaining-your-septic-tank-without-chemicals-1708251041.html
My question is: how do I get the stolen content taken down? Webmaster Tools tells me the content needs to be removed before I can request removal from search engines. But if my DMCA notice is being ignored, that condition doesn't exist. What other options are available to get my copyright infringement remedied?”
Within minutes I had a response and it was a good one. I was sent to Google’s Legal Removal Requests and followed the directions. I was told to read everything, starting with watching the provided video. I clicked on all the links provided (which offered clarification and sample reports) and filed a formal legal complaint with Google itself. They posted the offending link in the Removal portion of my Webmasters Tool Removal page and are in the process of investigating. Trust me, this rebelmouse guy will be in a heap more trouble with Google’s legal team than he would have been had he complied with my initial request.
Plagiarism Travels Far Beyond Informational Articles
I think what’s pissed me off the most is a short story I wrote, Forbidden Love, based on a challenge by my brother to write a story about a painting of his (which you can see in the article and hangs proudly in my hallway), was stolen. Not once, but four times! Twice of which was by a commenter on two separate WordPress sites.
This particular story is the culmination of two creative souls in two different artistic media. It’s a family effort and really pisses me off that something so intimate was stolen. I can’t even begin to tell you how I feel about this particular violation.
However, I have to give kudos to WordPress. I was instructed (through HP) to follow the WP guidelines in filing my DMCA notice. They are stellar, I must say. I filed my complaint on July 9, 2016 and on July 11, 2016 I received the following email:
> Location of unauthorized material:
Your DMCA Notice has been received and reviewed for completeness.
In accordance with the requirements set forth by the DMCA, we have disabled access to the allegedly infringing material. Please note that we have notified the user who uploaded the material to provide them an opportunity to formally challenge this removal. We will notify you immediately If the user submits a counter-notice.
Sal P. | Community Guardian | WordPress.com
I’m pleased to say, all links have been disabled or no longer exist. I’ve entered the links into my Webmaster Tools to have the cached links removed from the search engines.
Three days after I filed a DMCA with Google's legal team I received an email stating that the link to my stolen content has been removed from search results.
It really does pay to take the time to fight back!
Copyright infringement is a crime. You’d fight for your family. You’d fight for your home. You’d fight for your country. Why would you not fight for your soul and your muse?
It only takes a few minutes. Do it.
Shauna L Bowling
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