How to Deal With Plagiarism and Send DMCA Complaints

I’ve been plagiarised a ton recently—quite a few of these have been by the same person who I’ve warned multiple times—do you have any tips on preventing plagiarism? Also, if I’ve given this person a warning several times and they refuse to do anything or take responsibility, what would you suggest is the next step? Thanks Ashley!

Hiya! Well there’s not really a way to prevent plagiarism. People can and will copy content if they choose to, and there’s no way around that (sadly). But if you have found someone who has plagiarized your work, there are measures you can taken to have it removed!

What to do if you’ve been plagiarized

Step #1: Contact the person who stole your work

The first email

The first step is to always contact the person who has stolen your work. Give them a chance to take it down before you take further action. In your initial email, try to be as kind as possible. I know that being plagiarized seriously sucks, but some people are just ignorant instead of malicious. They may be more likely to comply if you start off being nice.

Point out why you feel you’ve been plagiarized, provide examples, and kindly request that they remove the post(s)/review(s)/content.

If they refuse…

If the person doesn’t reply or if they refuse to take down the work, send them another email informing them that you will take steps to have their content removed. Remind them that what they’re doing is illegal and is infringing on your copyright and tell them that you will be filing a DMCA complaint with the site the content is posted on.

Hopefully those big, scary words will scare them enough to comply. If not….

Step #2: Contact the site the content is hosted on and file a DMCA complaint

The first thing you have to do is figure out where the plagiarized content is hosted.

  • Is it on Goodreads?
  • Is it on Blogger?
  • Is it on free WordPress.com?
  • Is it on a self-hosted WordPress site?

If the content is hosted on a free site, the process is pretty easy and there’s usually just a simple form for you to fill out. Just look for the site’s legal section and they should have information about DMCA notices or copyright violation. Examples:

Goodreads

Their information on DMCA and what to include in your complaint is listed in their Terms of Use (do a CTRL+F for “DMCA” to find the section). They tell you exactly what to include and that you should send your complaint to copyright@goodreads.com

Blogger

If you file a DMCA complaint with Blogger, they will review it and remove/delete the offending blog. You can read a bit about it in their Blogger Copyright Policy. To file a DMCA complaint with them, you can do so on their Removing Content From Google form.

Free WordPress.com

If the plagiarized content is hosted on a free WordPress.com blog, you can fill out the Automattic (owners of WordPress) DMCA notice form on their website.

You must make sure that the blog is hosted on WordPress.com and NOT on the open source WordPress.org platform. You can verify this by checking that the blog has wordpress.com in the URL or that their site has a note somewhere saying Blog at WordPress.com. Do not confuse this with sites that say “Powered by WordPress”. That statement refers to the self-hosted WordPress.org platform.

Self-hosted WordPress

Filing DMCA notices with a self-hosted WordPress site is the toughest of the lot. First you have to determine who the website’s host is. You can try to figure this out by putting their site URL into whoishostingthis.com. This site is usually pretty good at determining who the host is. Once you have the host information, you need to file a DMCA complaint with that host.

This is when it can get a tad tricky. You have to scour the web host’s site looking for DMCA information. This is usually tucked away in their “Legal” section or their “Terms of Use” policy. I often find the quickest way to locate this information is by googling {host name} dmca notice. For example, if I do that with GoDaddy I get taken to their Trademark/Copyright Infringement page. From there I can see:

1. To notify Go Daddy that there has been a copyright or trademark violation, please follow the specific instructions in (A) for filing a trademark claim, or (B) filing a copyright complaint.
GoDaddy Trademark/Copyright Infringement Agreement

Then I locate section B and can see that I need to contact CopyrightClaims@godaddy.com and they tell me exactly what information to include.

What to include in your DMCA complaint

Before sending your complaint, always read the site’s requirements on what to include. For example, in that GoDaddy agreement above, it lists exactly what they want you to include. Make sure follow that exactly to get the best results. What I’m going to describe below is what you typically need to include, but always make sure you read the site’s requirements first.

Make it clear that you are the copyright holder. If you wrote the original blog posts then you own the copyright automatically. So make it clear that you—the person filing the complaint—are the copyright holder, and you’re not speaking on anyone else’s behalf.

Provide examples of your original works. These are the links to your original posts that have been stolen. Provide direct links to those blog posts, reviews, etc.

Provide links to the plagiarized material. These are links to the content that has been stolen. These are the posts that you are asking to be removed. Provide exact links to the material and, if necessary, highlight exactly which part(s) have been plagiarized (if not the whole thing).

Make it clear for them to see the connection. If it’s not immediately obvious that there’s a connection between your work and the plagiarized work, do your best to draw attention to that connection. Provide screenshots of the materials side-by-side, highlighting the stolen paragraph(s).

Provide evidence that you tried to contact the plagiarizer first. Provide screenshots of your “cease and desist” letter to the plagiarizer. Inform them that the letter went unanswered, or show screenshots where the plagiarizer refused to remove the content.

It’s better to provide too much information than too little. When you send a DMCA complaint you’re making a legal complaint. That’s big stuff! You want to be as specific and detailed as possible. It’s always better to provide too much proof than too little proof. If you don’t provide enough proof to convince the host that you’re the original creator and that your copyright has been infringed upon, your request may even be ignored. So put some effort into this!

If your DMCA complaint goes unanswered…

Wait a few weeks before starting to panic. These things take time and the legal departments are probably swamped with complaints. But if it’s been a few weeks/months and your DMCA complaint has gone unanswered, and the plagiarized material is still there, you’re kind of out of luck. The only other option after this point is to hire a lawyer and take legal action yourself… but most people aren’t prepared to do this for a hobby blog (lawyer fees—eeks!).

Good luck!

Have you ever been plagiarized before? Did you have to file a DMCA complaint?

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35 comments

    1. Yeah I know what you mean. There’s not really a super easy way to do it. You can try Googling for unique phrases in your review, or you can try using a site like this: http://copyscape.com/

      But I think it’s harder for us book bloggers because CopyScape will return a ton of results just because people usually use the exact same synopsis for books, so CopyScape will see that as copying, when it’s actually not. It just makes it harder to sift through the results.

  1. Someone accused me of plagiarism lolz. She said I copied her review but we just had the same opinion on the book. She kept bothering me for it, even for the shelves I put it on happened to be the same, so I just removed my review and sent a copy of it to the author and let him/her (I can’t remember) know why it’s not up on Goodreads. I’d never seen that girl before and I wondered if she just checked every book she ever reviewed just to see if someone copied her review. XD I would’ve been happy to see someone agree with me on a book, like I usually have with you. But hey, I’ve never heard from her again, so.

    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted: Bookish Babble: Bad Bookish Habits!
    1. Wow that’s weird! Obviously she’s the only person in the world who’s allowed to hold that opinion on the book! Didn’t you know that???

      (lol) 😛

    2. I stumbled upon a review of a book that was strikingly similar to my own. But…it was scheduled not live, so it would appear when my post went live that I copied. I let the blogger know in case she stumbles on my review later that the reviews are fairly similar. Better to be proactive, IMO.

      Liz Lessard recently posted: Book Review: Waterfell by Amalie Howard
  2. I’ve been plagiarised on a very small scale. Mostly my ideas. And my words. *sigh* But what do you do when your blogging friends sort of take stuff? I’m not very confrontational, so I let it all slide. But it DOES bug me when my coin words turn up on other people’s blogs (I know they weren’t using them before) and my style of setting up posts and content ideas.

    1. I think it depends. If they have literally copied 75% or more of your review, I would feel that I have to confront them. If they just used a few words that happen to sound similar (this happened to me), then I’d let it slide. That’s not really enough to call it “plagiarism”. It’s more like slightly annoying inspiration lol.

      I guess it’s like artwork. If someone sees your artwork and creates a similar piece, but it’s obviously not an exact copy, then it’s just “inspiration”. It may be annoying, but I don’t think there’s anything technically wrong with it. But if they traced the original picture, then it starts to be real copying.

    1. Yep that’s exactly right! Whether we’re posting artwork, photos, or blog posts, we run the risk of having them stolen/copied.

  3. That’s the problem with putting content on the web. You never know if people are going to use your stuff.. I always like to believe in the good nature of people, so it’s always a shame when I see a plagiarism case 🙁 I just wish people would understand that it’s a big deal to steal someone’s ideas/reviews. It’s not hard to credit others when they inspired you. I’m going to save this, just in case I need it. I hope not.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted: 2nd Blogoversary.
  4. Thanks so much for the advice, Ashley! I got plagiarized three times I think, but only in really minor ways (like they took a feature after I let them but never gave credit even if I asked them to) so I never really bothered to call them out on it because that stuff honestly doesn’t bother me as much as I feel like it should, but this is such a great guide for those who actually do get plagiarized. Thanks for sharing! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: The Agent's Daughter by Ron Corriveau Tour Stop
  5. Being a new blogger I’m always worried that I’ll unconsciously copy something like a word or phrase from one of the blogs I follow…it’s good to know there’s a way to stop it though for future reference (although of coarse I hope I never have to use it.)

    Blackandlime recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday #4-Panic
    1. There is this site: http://copyscape.com/

      There’s a free option where you can manually search for pages on your blog, or there’s a paid option that automatically scans it for you.

      But the problem with these services for a book blogger is that we put the book synopsis in our reviews, so this site will see that as being “copied” material and list other sites that also include that synopsis. But really it’s not being copied, and we don’t care about that content at all.

      That just makes it harder to go through the results.

  6. I’ve seen a lot of these case come up recently and it’s rather scary. I think in terms of design there is always a chance someone has a similar style or produced something similar in terms of layouts etc but if someone copies word for word of a review, then there is something wrong, I never understood why people copy.

    I got accused when I was 16 of copying (photography) and it was one of the most stressful times because they just accused me on a photography community site as a comment which couldn’t be removed. The person just put “not to be a humbug but this person steals photos” and I was so distraught that they never contacted me or even offered me any example or what I was supposed to have copied (later found out we have a similar Myspace profile design and both of our profile pictures was us sitting at our computer, mine was uploaded earlier than theirs). So getting proof is one thing I recommend when when it comes to approaching someone who you think may have copied/plagiarised.

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  8. Do you know if there’s any websites/programmes where you can copy a code or something into your blog which prevents right clicking and copying/pasting?

    I remember years and years ago, back in the day of Piczo, I always used this code on my site which stopped people right-clicking so they couldn’t save any of your photos.

    I know if someone really wanted to copy your work they’d probably just write it down but at least this would be another form of protection for your work!

    P.s If there isn’t a programme that does that, we should totally make one. Providing no-body else had the same idea.

    Jenny recently posted: New Themes: Circa and Quadra
    1. There are methods like this, but I honestly don’t think they’re worth it. They all require JavaScript, which means they’re super easy to bypass. Instead of right clicking, you can just open the “Source” menu, which shows all the website source anyway. Or if someone turns off JavaScript, they can then right click again anyway.

  9. I am a non fiction writer, a writer of Guides, a writer of articles, a songwriter, and a screenwriter. I have 4 websites, 6 books for sale on Amazon.com and over 20 free Guides. My Guides have millions of readers.

    My biggest website is rochdalecollegebook.com which will be made into a book. It’s about a so-called college that was shut down by the Canadian government in 1975 because it was the largest drug dealing centre in the world.

    Some of sleazy obnoxious phonies who infested the “college” hi-jacked my rochdalecollegebook.com website and turned it into a forum. So I had to shut down 97% of the website. Then the druggie alcoholics stole what I had taken off the internet and made it into a “book” which is free with the sleazy Google Books scumbags. The drug dealers now use the free “book” as a forum to insult me profusely.

    I have complained a dozen times to Google Books. No response.

    Lone Wolf Sullivan

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