I just found a blog on which someone had copied an entire post of mine and published it on their site. They did link to my blog (“I just found this on [blog]…”), although they did not link to the original post.
Unfortunately this is not uncommon. Here are my tips in dealing with it:
1. Stay Calm
I know it’s hard not to feel offended when something has been taken from you, but it really is in your best interest to stay calm and not immediately fire off an angry email (or worse, leave a nasty comment!) to the offending blog owner.
2. Assume the Best
I’ve learned that very often, people aren’t very well-versed in “netiquette” or online copyright law. They truly don’t realize they cannot copy a post and put it on their site. They assume as long as they “give credit” to the original author, it’s no problem. This idea that anything online is “fair game” is prevalent. (Of course, one of the most common ways this occurs is when people use images without permission.)
I have unknowingly committed netiquette errors myself and have been so grateful when someone points it out in a kind and helpful way instead of lambasting me from the start.
3. Start with One Friendly Email
When you see that someone has copied your material, by all means, take action. However, in my experience, often one friendly email does the trick.
Most people appreciate your note and either edit their post or take it down. If they don’t and/or they react as though it’s not their problem, only then would I consider further action (such as sending a cease and desist letter or contacting a lawyer).
Here’s the basic template I use for my initial email (feel free to copy all you want 😉 ):
[In my first few sentences I always try to find something encouraging about their blog and mention it here. If I can, I try to find a common interest or a point on which we are similar. Be sincere though.]
I happened upon your blog and was honored to see you had stopped by my blog, My Blog (with link) and mentioned it in this post: [link to their offending post]
Just wanted to make a friendly request that instead of republishing my post “My Blog Post Title” in its entirety, you would share a short snippet and then direct others back to my original post with this link: [link to my original post]
Not only are blog posts copyrighted material, but as a fellow blogger, I’m sure you can appreciate the time and energy that goes into writing and keeping a blog going! 🙂 Another consideration is the potentially negative impact “duplicate content” may have on one or both of our sites with regards to the search engines.
[I then try to offer another word of encouragement at the end, again, if I can do it sincerely and genuinely.]
Thanks so much for your understanding!
All the best,
4. Pick Your Battles
Even blatant copyright infringement of your material doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do anything about it. Now, if they offending blogger is well-known, has the potential to seriously trash your reputation and/or has a lot of search engine clout, then I’d take it more seriously. But in my opinion, sometimes, it’s not worth your time and it’s better to just let it go. Legal action can be expensive, and is that really how you want to spend your time anyway?
5. What to do in the case of scrapers
It’s a different thing entirely if your content is being scraped by people who are doing so specifically to take advantage of you. Scrapers won’t respond to a nice email as explained above.
You can take preventative steps like including a note in your RSS feed indicating you are the original owner. You can do this with Yoast’s SEO plugin. Once the plugin is installed and activated, go to your Dashboard > SEO (left column) > Advanced (left column) > RSS (tab). You’ll see the boxes where you can input the information you want to show up in your feed.
Several people asked how I found out about the person who copied my post. In this case I saw it in my “Pending Comments” however a great way to keep tabs is with a Google Alert. I made a video tutorial about how to set up Google Alerts here.