So you've built some great web pages. The pages get ranked well on the Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines, and stay there for a long time. Then one day you make a few changes and your rankings on Google falter. While there are MANY reasons that this can happen, one important thing to look at is whether or not your content has been scraped from your site and displayed on an alleged copyright infringer's (noted as infringer in the rest of this article).
Part of Googles secret sauce of 200+ ranking factors is a duplicate content filter. Typically you might see this filter kick in where you are duplicating some of your own on your own website or other sites you own, and your alternate versions don't get ranked on their that search engine. However, what's more insipid is to find that your own original content gets ranked, someone else has scraped it and put it on their site.other, and your website is ultimately penalized.
We are not attorneys and can't give legal advice, but here's a summary of what what you can do to protect your own web content, when you see your copyright infringed.
First off, you can write the infringer. It may have been a simple mistake commited by someone they hired to build content. Some of the time, the webmaster may respond to you and take down the infringing content. Often times though, that won't happen, and you may have to take futher action.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act codifies into US law two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization. A second act, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act further creates a "safe harbor" for online service providers who generally don't have anything to do with the content placed on web servers they own and run.
In a nutshell, the two together have provisions in them where a copyright owner can send a DMCA Takedown notification to an infringer and the online service company that hosts the infringer's web site. If the firm that owns the web server fails to take down infringing content, they can be held liable for damages caused by the copyright infringement.
It may be difficult to contact the website domain name owner if they have privacy options placed on their domain name, or they may not want to respond to you when you request that they take down infringing content. However, if the hosting firm is located here in the USA - you will almost always see them act quickly to get infringing content removed when you send them a DMCA Takedown request.
The first thing you want to do is to get your facts straight about your copyrighted text. You can go to http://www.archive.org and find the oldest version of your web page that contains the infringed content. You can reference that date and link in the takedown request. Next, again use Archive.org to lookup the oldest version of the infringer's version of your copyrighted text. This will give you a good idea of when your content was taken. You can reference that in the takedown request too. When you send the takedown request to the website owner, it will help them to better understand the situation if they didn't themselves write the content.
If the infringing website isn't contained in Archive.org's database, their website domain name may have still been originally registered AFTER you published your content. While they may have moved their content from one website domain name to another, this is still pretty helpful information to have and reference.
You can find the date and contact information of the website owner from a variety of sources. CentralOps.net's Domain Dossier is one of many websites where you can get the information. You can enter the infringer's domain name there and get the domain name's WhoIs information, as well as the Network WhoIs information detailing the contact information for the web server host or company.
If the domain name owner has purchased a privacy package, and they don't list contact information on their website, it may be difficult to contact them. However, the Network WhoIs information will likely give you contact information for the web server host or company, and the DMCA Takedown can be sent to them. If they are located here in the USA, they will likely act quickly. If they aren't, then the DMCA doesn't likely apply and it will be more difficult to get the content taken down.
To write up the DMCA Takedown request itself, search for the term "How to send a DMCA Takedown Request" or something similar. Wikipedia has a Takedown Example on their site. Some elements of a good DMCA Takedown Request email are:
After the infringing content has been removed, you can use Google's Content Removal Request page to request that it be removed from their cache and search results. Also take a look at their page at Cache Removal. A good place to start is also their legal page.
If an infringer is outside of the USA, but is displaying Google AdSense advertising, you can notify Google the infringement, which is a violation of their AdSense policies, via their copyright infringement page.
This page was written by Alfred Heyman and is Copyright 2013 ©, Spectrum Research, Inc.. Google+. Google, Bing and Yahoo are trademarks of their respective firms. Spectrum Research, Inc., is not associated with those firms, and mentions of their trademarks are not endorsements of Spectrum Research, Inc.