How wonderful it is to watch one’s browser home page open and discover that the RSS feed is displaying one of your blog article titles. How disappointing it is to click on the title and find that it leads not to your blog, but to someone else’s blog: a blog belonging to content thieves who have ripped off your article and re-published it without giving you credit for your work. Online plagiarism is rampant, and difficult to fight.
Can Writers Stop Online Plagiarism?
It is the responsibility of the copyright owner to enforce their copyright. Article directories and blog hosting companies rarely enforce their “terms and conditions” on matters of plagiarism. Directories will insist that the author contact the offending party and/or their hosting company to resolve the problem. Content thieves rarely have contact information on their sites. Finding the thief through a “whois” search is time consuming. If you are lucky enough to find the thief, their compliance is voluntary.
Website owners and bloggers know that prosecuting someone in a foreign country for plagiarism is prohibitively expensive for an independent blogger. So, they steal content, put up as many pages as they can assemble, and hope to profit from Google Adsense ads.
How You Can Fight Online Plagiarism
Fortunately, where the legal system fails, Google has come to the rescue. Google will not allow content thieves to make Adsense commissions from stolen content. Google can insist that the offending content be removed, or that attribution or other suitable arrangement be made with the author. If the content thief does not comply, the thieves’ Adsense account can be cancelled for life. Since the content thieves’ intent is to generate Adsense income from the stolen content, the threat of having that income source cut off for life is serious indeed. Few content thieves want to “take on” Google.
How to File a Complaint with Google
If the following instructions seem lengthy, don’t be discouraged; this process takes only about five minutes to perform. What’s five minutes to protect work you spent hours or days to create?
Go to the page which has the stolen content and locate the Adsense ads. Google Adsense ads are identified by a link above or below the ad block which says “Ads by Google”; which is a live link. From the offending page, click the link. You will be taken to a page entitled “What are Ads by Google”? After the first paragraph, you will find the sentence “if you’d like to report a policy violation regarding the site or ads you just saw, please let us know”. Click the link, and you will be taken to the bottom of the same page, to a drop-down menu that says “Report a Policy Violation…”. Choose “the website” from the drop-down menu, and you will be taken to the complaint menu. Choose “The site is hosting or distributing my copyrighted content, without my permission” button. When you make this choice, another link will display which says “File a DMCA complaint”. Click the DMCA link.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act
The DMCA link will take you to Google’s DMCA/Adsense page. Look for the link to the “Infringement Notification Form”. This is the final step. When you arrive at the Notification Form, fill out all the required information and hit the Submit button. Google will send you a confirmation email, and your complaint will be processed in the order it was received.
Plagiarism is an Ongoing Problem
Of course, reporting content thieves will not stop plagiarism; it may not even slow it down. But, the best weapon bloggers and writers have against such thieves is to hit them where it hurts: in the wallet. Maybe, eventually, they will begin to get the message.
Originally posted 2011-08-11 19:00:00.