Sunday, January 28, 2018

Filing an Effective DMCA Complaint

A stickgirl character with blonde hair and an orange bow asking for help.In the past, I've covered various ways of protecting your contents, and as a result, protecting your AdSense account. This is more of "that" ... because some foolish person decided it would be cool to copy the articles from my blog ... THIS blog.

Filing the notice is the only way to really handle this, but the process is slow. Not only does it take time once you file the reports, if a person has copied a lot of your posts and are hosted on Blogger, the process involves including ALL the URLs copied, both from your blog, and from the copied blog.

A screenshot of my content on a scraper's blog.Digging through content on someone's blog and keeping track of all the copied URLs can take a huge chunk of time, no matter how you do it. If they don't use the exact same post tiles, then it's harder to find the URLs related to your content.  Once you have that list, you'll have to go through your own blog to find the matching list of contents.

Once you've completed that, you're ready to file the DMCA notice. No, you can't just give the main URL of the blog that copied you and say remove this blog. You have to list the individual URLs - and yes, I know this is frustrating and time consuming, but unless you complete and submit the process properly, nothing may be done at all.

This (screenshot above) is not my blog, but it sure as heck looks like my content - my cartoon characters, my textual contents, most of them are also the titles of my posts. Even worse is the fact that this person has also claimed the copyright for my blog.  And that was, as they say ... "the straw that broke the camel's back".  I spent a day searching the blog for my content, made a list, and then got the list of URLs from my site. And filed the DMCA report.

Screenshot of a footer from an unnamed blog.

Stickgirl figure dressed in an Indian sari.Now it's a waiting game. Patience is an important quality when you file a DMCA. When you file through Blogger, you do get a link to your "removal dashboard" so you can check on the status. Currenly, it says "pending" ... that's because I just submitted it a few days ago, and from previous experience I know that the DMCA process can sometimes take as long as a month. A faster process would be really nice, but as with all things, doing it right takes time. And doing it right is really the only way to go.

The person receiving the notice will be able to file a counter-claim (which would be foolish in this case, since they can't prove they wrote the content.) and the process take several weeks from the time that person receives the DMCA notice. They have something like 14 days to respond (unless that's changed recently). How long it takes for them to receive the notice after you file can depend on how many notices have been filed recently.

Stickgirl holding a pencil with the word original overtop of her.
This isn't the first time I've filed DMCA notices, but it's the first time I've filed one through Blogger. It's also the first time I've filed one with that many URLs at one time, previously the most I've filed for was 7 at one time.

People who do such things (scrape or copy content) are completely annoying to the people who create the original work. It's not exactly a legal crime of huge proportions, but people can be sued for doing such a thing, particularly if it can be proven that the person's use of the original content has caused harm to the originator (financially, or by reputation). I don't intend to go that far, and doing so takes much more work, and usually involves the need of a legal representative (which will cost you money, especially if you lose the case).

For me, the most annoying thing of it all that the person has taken credit for the work I've done, and copied some of my ad code, and I won't sit still for that. Dumber still is the fact that some of my content still has my author bio at the end. That in itself would provide enough proof to the DMCA complaint that I am the originator of the content.

99% of the time when I find my work somewhere else, it's a single post, or an image used without permission. Usually in a case like that, I'll send an email directly to the site owner through their contact page, and ask them to either remove the content (in the case of an article I usually insist on this), or to at least credit me for the work and provide a link to my website (usually for images). Most people simply didn't know they couldn't use it without permission, and will remove the content, or provide appropriate credit.

And while I know there are some of you that would like to retaliate when it happens to you ... that would make you no better than the perpetrator. It might be fun to think about sending out some little piece of script that would wipe the blog off the internet, but that's the wrong way to handle this sort of situation and in the end ... it would only give you a passing satisfaction. Doing the wrong thing in response to another wrong thing is never the way to deal with an issue.

Always use the right methods ... be the "better man" and do the right thing.

posted by J.Gracey Stinson

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