Help! A Troll Stole My Content; And How to Stop it

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Nothing is more infuriating or frustrating to an online entrepreneur than a content thief.  The idea that some lazy, immoral @#$*% has the audacity to copy your products, images or articles is enough to make steam blast from your ears. Where’s the sense of common decency and fair play?

If you’re lucky enough to have avoided yelling, “a troll stole my content,” you may know someone who has.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep it from happening or put a halt to it if it has already occurred.

First Things First

    • Set up a copyright statement or page on your business website.  You can find a free template here.  Also, numerous sites sell customized copyright pages. Obviously, you don’t need more busy work, but it does protect your product to some extent.  Although, if someone is determined to copy your work, they will.

    • Create Google Alerts for each post or page on your site using a unique sentence within each.  Perhaps you already utilize these alerts to monitor mentions of your company or brand on social media.  Consider this another use of this free service.  Remember to place quotations at both ends of your sentence.  Expect to be notified if that specific wording is used elsewhere on the web.  While it doesn’t stop theft, it keeps you in the know.

    • Check for those plagiarizing your content with Copyscape or Unicheck.  These sites will help you monitor your previously published content.  They each offer some free limited services and paid premium programs.  Be aware it could take a while to process all your posts or if you have been in business or blogging for more than a few months.  Consider starting with your pillar content.  You obviously want credit and Google rankings for your most popular material first.

    • Install content theft plugins on your website.  Some keep trolls from stealing text while others prohibit image copying.  Wordpress offers the plugin Disable Right Click.  However, there are many others available on the market from which to choose.

    • Watermark your images.  Purchase software that protects your digital photos or place your name and website at the bottom of each picture.  Although, it is fairly easy to crop or edit the words out of most images.  Again, nothing will keep a persistent criminal from taking your intellectual property, but it’s a deterrent.

     

    After You Have Discovered a Content Stealing Troll

    • First, take a screenshot of the page where your stolen work appears.  You can also go to the internet archive WayBackMachine to confirm you published this work first if necessary.  This site will provide proof someone stole your material even if they have since removed it from the web.

    • Email the offending site’s owner and demand your property be taken down within forty-eight hours.  If you cannot find an address, go to the WhoIs database, type in the site’s domain name, and you may locate the contact information.  Please know that your request may be ignored.  If your words or images remain on the site two days later, it is time to move on to the next step.

    • Contact the thief’s hosting provider via WhoIsHostingThis.  Hosts are supposed to respond to complaints within a reasonable amount of time.  They can ultimately take down an entire website if they deem it appropriate.  Think of how satisfying it will be to know your actions took down a site that copies the hard work of others.  Keep in mind this may not work quickly, so I would move on to the next step because it is a doozy.

    • The primary reason for prolific content theft is monetary gain, right?  People unlawfully take your articles or images, republish them, and place advertisements on the page for profit.  However, using stolen content is a violation of just about every business contract on planet Earth.

      Contact advertising programs like Adsense, ShareASale, or CJ Affiliate and file a complaint.  The offender will likely be banned and lose the incentive to steal from you or anyone else.  Also, consider contacting the companies within ads themselves.  However, I would consider that a hail Mary type of move.  In other words, they will likely ignore you.

    • File a DMCA complaint with Google.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a 1998 United States law meant to protect original works from plagiarism and other acts.  If you need further explanation or assistance, consult an attorney, as I am not one.

  •      Related reading: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Tech Savviness

    • Take legal action after you have exhausted all other alternatives.  Perform a Google search for DMCA lawyer and include the name of your city or town.  I would consider this the nuclear option if a troll copied my content.  Many people who feel wronged or victimized say, “I’ll sue!”  Sadly, it takes one lengthy lawsuit to bankrupt most companies.  That goes for both plaintiff and defendant.  Just food for thought.

      While the process of stopping a content thief may seem daunting, it is relatively straight forward when you know what steps to take.  Hopefully, you are not in the situation to need them.  If you are in that unenviable position, fear not, take action, and block that troll!

      Do you know any other strategies that protect content and images from theft? If so, share them in the comment section below.

      Life is better when we lift each other up.

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Help! A Troll Stole My Content; And How to Stop It will help you file a DMCA complaint.  Use copyright laws to protect your writing & images from plagiarism.

30 COMMENTS

    • Hello, Talya. Thank you for sharing. I hope you are protecting your site so you don’t have to go through the painful process of filing complaints. It is such a nightmare. Good luck to you and have an awesome day.

    • Hi, Linda. I love that you pinned my post. Thank you very much. As far as reposting my post on your site – I have to say no because Google will penalize me for duplicate content and my rankings will go down. I am flattered that you like my article enough to want to do that though. I suggest you make a roundup post of ‘best tips for bloggers’ or something like that. You can include a link to my post and many other people’s posts that you found helpful. Contact the authors and tell them you have included their post. They will likely be thrilled and share the heck out of your roundup post. I did that with a podcast post and it is one of my most popular articles ever. Good luck!

    • Hi, Claire. I am in the process of creating my statement too. There is always work to be done on a business site, right? Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  1. I have heard of this happening so often lately! It truly makes me sad. This post gives such great guidance to follow if this ever does happen (fingers crossed that it doesn’t). Thanks for the advice!

    • Hey, Stephanie. I suggest installing a protection plugin and creating Google Alerts. Then you won’t have to worry about it as much. Good luck to you!

  2. Jennifer – I’m so sorry this happened to you. I never even think about this happening. Thanks for an informative post on how we can stay on top of this issue and what to do if it happens to us.

    • Hi, Cathy. If you protect yourself now, you likely won’t have to deal with this frustration. Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it.

  3. I would be devastated if this happened to me – but I have such a unique voice (so people have told me) that… People would know and notify me (and I have google alerts as well). My YouTube videos once in awhile get yanked…. But I mean, I AM IN THEM – so no one can really claim that they’re theirs!

    • Hello, GiGi. Maybe think about installing one of the plugins I mentioned. Then you will avoid the devastation altogether. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey, Jena. If you install a content theft plugin, you will probably be okay. Check on your popular posts every once in a while to see if they are being copied. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your site.

  4. This is very good information! I wish people wouldn’t steal other people’s work, but it’s best to protect oneself for the eventuality. Guess I have some work to do on my next maintenance day. Thanks for the tips!

    • Hey, Melody. I’m glad you found my post informative. I hope you take a few of the precautions mentioned to protect your work. You know how the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Thank you for sharing.

  5. Wow. Thanks for all of this information. I’m definitely pinning this content. I hope I will never need to use this information, but would rather have it close at hand if needed.

    • Hi, Jennifer. I hope you don’t ever need it either. Just take a few precautions and your odds of being copied go down dramatically. Thanks for sharing, as always.

  6. Thank you for a very helpful article My content has been stolen on several occasions, and I’ve never really pursued it because I wasn’t really sure what to do. You’ve given clear directions here on exactly what to do.

    • Hi, Barbara. I’m sorry your content has been stolen. That is awful! I hope you can get these sites shut down. Thank you for your feedback and good luck.

    • Hey, Linda. A few easy steps can prevent a giant headache later. Thank you for your feedback and I hope you at least set up a Google alert for each post.

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