Have you ever discovered that someone has taken the content from your webpages, and posted it on their own website without permission? Unfortunately stolen comment is a pretty common situation on the web.It may be an image, a few paragraphs, a whole page, or (as happened once to this very site) even an entire website.
Too many people out there think anything posted on the web is free for the taking (it certainly isn’t) – or have no scruples.
When it happens to you, it feels terrible. But you’re not helpless in this situation, and you can likely get it removed. Here’s what to do:
Take a look at the offending website. Make a list of each webpage that has your content on it, and what that content is.
Next, make a list of the pages of your own website that the content was stolen from.
Also, if you can, note how long each of those pages have been online. Be as specific as you can (year, at least and month or day if you can). These dates can provide evidence that your page has been online longer than the one hosting your stolen content.
[If you want to go a step farther, you can even look too see when Archive.org first archived the content in question and copy the link to the archived page there.]
OK. So now you have a list noting the stolen content, your page it was stolen from, and how long ago you created that original content.
Do a little research.
Now, find out what company hosts the website in question. The offending website is hosted on this company’s servers, and that company is the one who can quickly take care of this situation for you.
You can find out the name of the webhost (and their company’s website) here: whoishostingthis.com.
Next, visit the webhost’s website. Most will have a support email address listed on their “contact” or “support” page. Write down all the email addresses – in case one doesn’t work for you, you can try another.
If you can’t find any email address listed, try “email@example.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Even “email@example.com may work (they’ll probably direct your email to the right department).
Write them an email.
Politely introduce yourself. Tell them that the website in question (name it) has posted your copyrighted material.
Provide links to the offending webpages, and to your own content for comparison, and the dates you first posted the content.
Tell them that you are filing a DMCA complaint, and you are requesting that the material be removed immediately. Don’t threaten – nobody responds well to hostility, it just puts them on the defensive. Just be firm.
Webhosts take these complaints VERY seriously. In almost all cases (except in the case of a Russian casino site, which was offline a month later) I’ve found the stolen material will be down within a couple days. If they don’t reply within 2 days, contact them again, and mention that it is your second time contacting them. Be insistent. It will work.
Here is an example letter I’ve used:
Subject: URGENT: DMCA Infringement Complaint
Dear (Webhost name),
It has come to our attention that much of the text found at the URL
has been copied from our copyrighted text located at
This page has been online since 20XX (provide the most exact date you can – whether month, day, or year.)
This content was developed by us, solely for our own proprietary use on www.mywebsitename.com. Our copyright appears clearly on this, and every other page on our site.
Per the DMCA, please remove our copyrighted material from the website without delay.
When this has been accomplished, please let us know so that we may close this matter.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.
owner, (my website name)
What not to do.
1. Don’t send this message through a form on the webhost’s webpage, an online chat, or post it on a forum. Sending it from your own email account will get their attention best. And, most importantly, by sending an email from one of your own accounts, you can save a copy of the email for future reference.
2. Again, don’t be rude, use bad language or get otherwise nasty. Don’t bombard them with a string of angry emails. No matter how right your cause is, one wants to do anything for people who treat them poorly. It’s understandable that you’re angry about being ripped off, but keep your rage to yourself. Just be professional and give them a few days to get the situation taken care of. Follow up politely if necessary.
3. Tempting as it may be, don’t send the email to the website owner – the person who stole your stuff. Back when I was new at this, I sometimes contacted the owner directly first, using a letter similar to the one above, with a note that I’d contact their webhost if I didn’t get any satisfaction. I don’t necessarily recommend doing that though, because people tend to get very defensive, make a lot of excuses, and are sometimes downright nasty. You’ll wind up getting even angrier and this jerk will waste more of your time & energy. Just go with the webhost – they are a business, will treat it professionally (believe me, this isn’t the first DMCA complaint they’ve had) and are likely do the right thing.
What if they don’t answer?
Most of the time you’ll get a pretty timely response. As I said, webhosts must – and do – take DMCA complaints very seriously.
1. Try again in a few days. Maybe it didn’t get through the first time, or they sent it on to someone else there to take care of. Politely tell them that you have emailed them before, and note the date. Then, copy rest of the information from the first email you sent. Add that you expect this matter to be resolved by a certain date (perhaps 3 or 4 days in the future.)
2. Try a different email address. Here’s how to get them.
First, look at the site’s WHOIS information (see www.whois.sc) and see if there are alternate email addresses there.
If that doesn’t work, send an email through the chat or email form on their website and ask them who to contact regarding a DMCA complaint.
As a very last resort, you could send the DMCA email through the chat or email form as well. But I bet you won’t have to do that.
That’s all there is to it.
Most webhosts I’ve dealt with over the years have taken the material down on the first request, within a couple days. A couple have asked for more info.
(In only one case did I get no reply, and that was a spammy Russian casino site that vanished a couple months later anyway. Nothing I could do about that one. But it was practically invisible to the search engines anyway for being poor quality.)
I wish you luck! Feel free to email me if you have further questions.