If you publish content that performs well on search engines, another webmaster will eventually attempt to steal it; it’s almost inevitable. What’s important is how you deal with it. Thankfully, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act exists to protect people from content theft, and you don’t need to be a lawyer to make the DMCA work for you.
I’d like to begin by telling you a true story: at the end of 2011, I was given pre-release access to a product that was certain to be a hot seller within its niche. I had a great affiliate program through which to promote the product, so I immediately set to work on putting together a small website explaining every aspect of it. One page of the website was a comprehensive instruction manual — something the product lacked. The website attracted a great deal of traffic and became the Internet’s only true authority site about that product.
However, several months later, something horrifying happened: the Chinese manufacturer of the product decided to take the manual and begin distributing it to American resellers without consulting me. The American resellers, not knowing that the Chinese manufacturer wasn’t the original source of the manual, begin printing the manual and publishing it online.
This could easily happen to you. You might put something online thinking that it’s just another affiliate website, but you never know if that will be the one that really catches on and attracts parasites from all over the world. If you are working on a project that you believe has real potential, register your content with the United States Copyright Office. Why? Anything that you create and publish online automatically has copyright protection. However, the theft of a registered work may entitle you to statutory damages. If the stolen content is unregistered, you’ll have to prove that the theft has damaged you monetarily to receive compensation. Obviously, you’ll want to consult a lawyer about the particulars of your situation before you decide how to proceed.
So, let’s get to work on getting that stolen content offline and removed from search engine results pages.
The first thing you’ll do is contact the company hosting the offending website. McAnerin International hosts the DMCA takedown notice that you’ll be using as a template. You’ll be sending the host a notice indicating that you expect them to remove or disable access to the stolen content within 24 hours.
The next step in the DMCA takedown process is to remove the stolen content from Google’s search results pages.