Should I do anything when I see that websites are republishing my article without my permission?

Yes. If you have reason to believe they didn’t know better and you’re feeling generous, try to email them directly and tell them they have four hours to remove the stolen content before you file a formal DMCA takedown notice.

(I have a more detailed article on the DMCA takedown process here. )

And for the record, it’s absolutely NOT TRUE that you can’t do anything if they give you credit.

When you create and publish original content, whether it’s in the form of text, images, video, or audio, you own that content under the law and have full rights to control where and how that content is used.

The only exceptions are that someone can quote a small portion of your text or use a thumbnail image for educational or other limited non-commercial purposes. They may also be able to parody your work. There are no 100% hard and fast rules as to how many words they can post, but you can find guidelines at U.S. Copyright Office or Plagiarism.org or consult with an attorney if you’re interested in learning more.

You are only required to file for a formal copyright if you plan to sue an infringer, but it’s not a bad idea to file for content that you value.

If your articles were stolen by websites that publish infringed content on a regular basis, first file takedown notices with Google. My article referenced above gives you the link for that. This will make their version of your article disappear from Google. Then file your takedown notice with the host.

If you can’t find out who the host is, they may be hiding behind a service like Cloudflare. In that case, file a notice with Cloudflare and they will respond with information about the true host. Then you can file with that host.

If it turns out that the host is in another country, it’s possible that you may only be able to remove them from Google search results, but that’s better than nothing.

There are times you might not want to force someone to remove your content; if they only post a small portion of your article and link back to your site, they might be doing you more good than harm. But that’s usually the exception.

One reason that you should force infringers to remove your content is that you may end up with a “duplicate content” penalty from Google. This is thought to not be as much of a problem as it was once thought to be, but if you’re putting hard work into creating your own content to grow your website traffic, don’t take that chance.

One example of why people should enforce their copyrights is this: I have a client who does auto body repair, and when his photos are stolen to use on other auto body repair sites, it can make potential clients think his photos are not original before and after shots of his own work. But they are. This can damage his reputation, so we get them removed immediately when we find them on other sites without permission.

So, yes. In most cases, you should do something to protect your property. All the instructions are posted on the article I added the link for, and after you send one notice you can use that as a template to send others if needed.

EDIT: As David Thomas pointed out, if you voluntarily post your content on a website that you do not own/control, you may be subject to their terms. You even have to be careful using Google Drive, for example, because if you make an image public, their terms (which you accept automatically when you use their service) allow them to use that for advertising, and that’s been an issue with Facebook, too. But rarely would those terms allow others to use your content without your explicit permission. The only exception I can think of is when sites like YouTube offer embedding. And even there you can disable embedding of your videos.

So always read the terms of service when you post content to a site you don’t own, and consider adding your own terms of service to your site to spell out what you do and do not allow others to do with your work.

8 Replies to “Should I do anything when I see that websites are republishing my article without my permission?”

  1. If you don't want them to use your article, send an email to the webmaster of the site asking them to take it off the site. Be polite and explain that you are the author, give the link, and that you have not given permission for the site to republish your article. Ask that it be removed within 72 hours. Most webmaster will comply without argument and may even apologize.

    If they do not remove it, or if they send any other message other than that they will comply, contact the service that hosts the web site. Again, be polite. Forward the message you sent to the webmaster and any reply, and ask the hosting service to have your material removed. They will typically remind the offenders that their terms of service do not allow them to post infringing material and either they or the webmaster will remove your article. No web hosting company wants to be seen as allowing users to post copyrighted, pirated, hateful or slanderous material.

    We had some former members of our organization post abusive material about certain members and claim to have copyrighted material on the site in an encrypted form. After a couple of warnings, they continued their behavior and their site was taken down by the hosting company. The key is to approach the hosting company in a polite and professional manner.

    Note, if the offenders and their hosting companies are in China, Russia, or a few other countries you may not be able to get your material off the site. Their countries don't enforce copyright and are often the top distributors of pirate material.

  2. There are two parts to this answer. (NB: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.) What can you do? and What should you do?

    Before you do anything, make sure that they’re actually infringing your copyright. Did you post on a site like Quora where doing so grants everyone else certain rights to your words? Did you sell rights to an article to someone else, and in that contract grant them the right to sublicense it? And so on.

    If they are infringing in the US, you can do any or all of the following:

    • Write and inform them that they’re using your content without permission and that you want it removed/want a byline added/a profile added, etc.
    • Send the site owner a DMCA takedown notice,
    • Send the site host a DMCA takedown notice
    • File suit in Federal Court (after filing a registration of that content).
    • Under specific, extraordinarily rare and extreme cases, you may be able to get them tossed in jail. Calling the FBI is probably the first step toward that goal.

    If the content is potentially valuable, you should register it at or before publication (for large works) or in a batch for the year (for serialized works). Both are trivial to do and quite inexpensive. Just go to the Copyright Office website and follow the very clear instructions.

    If you register “timely,” then you can collect statutory damages, which makes lawsuits both more lucrative and far easier to win.

    The wise choices will depend upon why you wrote and posted the material in the first place, and on your goals.

    At one end, you may value creating a relationship that gives you access to the other site’s audience. In that case, you might want to contact them and ask for a specific intro/bio/profile and a link to your main site, or a landing page designed to help their readers.

    At the opposite end, you may want to protect your reputation from being associated with the other site. In that case, starting with a DMCA takedown notice to them, and cc’d to their hosting company is a very good idea indeed.

    If they’re persistent pirates, then filing suit may be a good step to take.

    And if they’re pirates for profit and they’re selling your work and have sold thousands upon thousands of copies, you may want to call the FBI.

  3. Are they actually republishing your article or just publishing a part of it with a ‘read more’ link to the whole article? It’s an important distinction.

    If they are publishing a snippet of your content but not the whole article and they have some kind of link to the original article then they are actually promoting your content which will help you some.

    If they run the whole article then they are taking away from your website even if they provide a link to the original article. There’s no reason for their visitor to follow the link to your website.

    Once you determine which case is which then you might wnt to consider if this might be a site pulling content via RSS and if so then is your RSS feed setting the stage for the problem. Some RSS feeds have a setting to send either the whole article or a snippet of content.

    You should never send the full article via RSS as that removes the need for the reader to visit to you website. You always want the reader to follow a link that benefits you somehow. If you ever setup syndication from your site to another then the same rules apply. Bring them back to you or a link that benefits you in someway.

    So, once you’ve checked and tried to fix your RSS feed, if that’s the cause, then check their site again after you publish your next article. If the problem persists then they are probably scraping your site. You need to contact them and insist they stop. Hopefully they’ll fix the problem on their end.

    Your next step is to check your referrer logs and block them via htaccess if necessary and hit them with a DMCA notice and a ‘cease and desist’ demand to remove the current offending content.

    But handle this well and you can turn a small problem into something beneficial to both your sites by helping them create content that benefits the both of you.

  4. There are exceptions to it being a copyright infringement, in which case you can do little about it.

    If you have posted an article onto a website, for this example I’ll use Quora – then you have almost definitely assigned them the right to do what they want to do with it, including them allowing others to do what they want to do with it.

    I only became aware of this about a week ago. I had wrongly assumed that I controlled the copyright in my “original creations”.

    Your License to Quora

    By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Service, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, create derivative works from, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). From:https://www.quora.com/about/tos

    I have seen this described elsewhere as Draconian.Quora Now Owns All Your Content

    I actually disagree with that – they don’t actually own it they are merely licenced to do what they want to do with it.

    Hope that helps ☺

  5. It depends on the situation. If someone cited something/quoted something from your work, it is fair use, and the individual would have “journalistic rights,” especially if he/she is a blogger. HOWEVER, if that person copy and pastes your entire work verbatim, that is copyright infringement.

    Contact the offending website, and kindly ask them to remove your content Give them time to answer, depending on site traffic, they may, or may not answer right away. If after I’d say two weeks (about) I would contact their hosting company and make a DMCA complaint. Depending on the host, patience is required, as they look at individual complaints. You may want to read their hosting site’s procedures on how to send complaint/create ticket, requirements etc. Make sure you give them the exact link as to were your copyright material is on. Then take it from there.

  6. If you are fine with it, then ignore it.

    But if you aren't fine with it, look for the website’s contact email. Most websites have a “Contact Us” email address. Tell them they have 24 or 48 hours to remove the content otherwise you will file a DMCA takedown request.

    If your site had a DMCA protection badge, you can get a takedown for free. However, if you don't have a badge, you will need to pay a fee for takedown.

    And besure to consider if is fair use or not.

  7. Contact Them to remove that content after that if they will not remove your content then you should send them copyright notice . Remember if they give source/credit to your site then you can’t do anything.

  8. If you didn't copyright it, I'm not sure you can do anything. However, I'm not an expert on copyright law. I did dob in a fellow student at uni for using my notes to write her end of year essay. I had to prove that she'd stolen more than just the 'spirit' of my research. I didn't know what that meant then and I still don't. Maybe call the Australian Patent & Copyright Office (whatever it's called) and see if they can tell you something more definitive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *