During the night I received a strange Twitter notification. Seems someone is accusing me of stealing content from their site. Say what?
It was rather early in the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep. Like the techno-geek I am, I grabbed my phone and shared a message on FB about killing my cats who were the cause of my not sleeping! Still feeling a bit frustrated, I then checked my recent Twitter feed and discovered, I along with others were being accused of theft.
Confused and somewhat groggy, I simply responded “Say What? I don’t even know who you are”. I started up my SleepyTime app, turned on the ocean sounds and tried to go back to sleep by ignoring the blasted cats. Thankfully, I did.
When I got up this morning I discovered that an entire conversation was going on about my site and totally without me. Seems a company in India was stealing content from websites and selling it to people. As they say there is no such thing as bad press. But then again, no one wants bad press.
When do you ignore issues like this, and when should you take action, when you believe you’re in the right and being falsely accused of something? In this case I was threatened with being reported to Google in order to have my site delisted from their search service. Now for a regular website, that’s probably an empty threat. Who cares. Google isn’t the only search engine in the Universe. And if your site offers good interesting content, people are going to find you in many other ways. So who cares, go ahead. Google isn’t the end all be all of the internet.
But if you’re running a business, whither it’s on the side or your main source of income, that could matter to you. Then what do you do? Especially if someone is threatening your livelihood. Take heart, as long as you’re in the right you will probably prevail in protecting your content, site and reputation. Google won’t simply take a report and act upon it to delist your content. They will do a little checking first.
I’ve heard and read about people who attempt to scam you by claiming your site has stolen content when you haven’t. They threaten website/blog owners and harass them to the point of scaring them into changing their content. What benefit this is to the accuser, I’m not sure. Maybe their own delusion of grandeur is all they’re seeking to satisfy. Maybe they get a kick out of harassing people, or scaring them into submission. Some go an extra step and scam you by saying they won’t report you if you pay for the content that isn’t theirs to begin with. Of course you should NEVER do that! Ever!
If harassment does get out of hand and does impact your business, you may need to seek legal action. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. If you’re in the right, you have the right to own and keep your content and your reputation. Don’t let some scammer threaten you or your business. At the very least, if you are delisted from Google, you can start with a complaint to them to address the issue.
There are various steps you can take when you’re in the right. Including creating a post on your site that discusses the matter. Check out Google’s page on this very topic at: sites.google.com/site/redy2assist/how-to-report-plagiarism.
If you find that someone has stolen your content, don’t get all pissed off and start threatening them in public. You’re more likely to get a backlash and a fight on your hands. Most people will dig in and either totally ignore you, or fight back. And don’t get your “friends” to start harassing them and attacking them either. That too will bring a backlash to you from other people who will find your actions unprofessional and trite. You’ll attract more bees with honey, than smoke.
Simply send them an email or find a way you can contact them in private. Be nice about it. They may not have realized what they did was wrong or against copyright laws. They may not have known where the content came from and were scammed in their own right. Don’t accuse them of a crime or wrong doing. You’ll only make them feel insulted and threatened.
Instead, tell them what you found, give them a little information including links about your website and where the content came from. Ask them to update their site or remove the section of content that came from your website. If you don’t mind that they’ve copied your content, tell them that, but that it must be cited with a link back to your page and what page they can add for the link.
If you ask quietly and nicely, they might actually do something about it without even responding to you. Or they might respond and give you some BS reply that they didn’t know it came from you, they got it from somewhere else and those people said they could use it, blah blah. Who cares what their excuse is, as long as they comply with your request.
The link to Google’s information is very useful and will lead you to a lot of helpful resources. If you’re worried about the stealing of your content, it’s worth reading.
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