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Dennis Persson
Dennis Persson

Posted on • Originally published at perssondennis.com

How To Report a Site That Steals Your Articles

A website is systematically stealing loads of articles published on DEV, this is what you can and should do about such infringements.

A short time back, I googled to find one of my own blog articles. I do that quite often since it's an easy way for me to find my articles quickly. But this time I noticed that the search result that appeared right after my article had the exact same title as mine.

Google search result of my stolen article
The site appears right below my DEV article on google

I got curious and visited the page and was met by an exact copy of my own blog article, the only difference was that they had systematically substituted single words with synonyms all over the text, as a bad attempt to make the article look unique to Google.

My stolen article
The beginning of the article they have stolen from me

I further inspected the website a bit to see what was going on. While doing that I found loads of articles published on DEV, and there was no information about the source of the articles. The canonical link referred to the site itself instead of the original publisher.

Has your article been stolen as well? I don't know, but I can see they copy plenty of articles daily and I do know why you should care about it. I'll guide you what to do if this happens to you. I'll explain why you should care and I will tell you why it's important.

I have decided not to expose the name of the website that steals your DEV articles, I don't intend to slander anyone. If DEV are interested to know more and take action, they can contact me privately.

Why Should You Report a Stolen Blog Post?

The obvious reason to report a stolen blog article is because it steals traffic from your own website. If the site has better SEO than yours it will appear before your own site on Google and most organic traffic will go to that site instead of your own blog. As a result, people won't read your articles and you are writing them completely in vain. It can even get worse than that. If Google detects that your blog contains content that are duplicated on another site, it can hurt how you rank on Google.

If you don't care about if people are reading your blog posts or not, you should still take action against a stolen article. Your action can prevent the site from stealing articles from others who do care about it.

How To Report a Stolen Site?

If you google how to report a stolen site, one of the first suggestions is to contact the owner of the website who has stolen it and ask if they can remove it. That's a perfect example of what you should not do. Why? To begin with, it may not be very effective. If you even get an answer from the owner of the site, you have no guarantee they will remove it.

Furthermore, if they would remove your article, you have helped nobody but yourself, and not by very much. After removing the article, they can simply republish it again, or stealing the very next article you write. And no one except you or the website owner will know about the copyright infringement, and they can carelessly continue to steal articles from other people.

If you think there's a chance that the website has copied your article by mistake or with a good intention. Make sure to contact them directly so they can remove the article without being discredited in any way.

Stolen signature
The ending of my stolen article, they have even copied my name

A Better Approach To Report a Stolen Blog Post

Well, last approach wasn't very effective. What to do instead? You can always try to find who's hosting the website and contact them. Sites like whois can tell you who is hosting the site.

This is a fair thing to do. Some hosting providers will take down sites that abuse like this. By doing this, you make it a bit harder for the site owner to continue their light-fingered business.

Going to Google

Another approach to report a page with stolen content is to ask Google to remove it. You can easily report it to google by reporting an intellectual property issue here.

Important to mention is that Google can't remove the site from the internet, your stolen blog post will still be accessible by its link and for people who use another search engine than Google. If it's important that even the website itself gets removed, you should additionally try some of the previously mentioned approaches.

The benefit of reporting it to Google is that they can remove the article from appearing in search results and potentially even degrade Google's rating of the website. In this way, you are not only helping yourself, you are also making Google aware of the website's shady business so they can prevent this from happening to other people.

Let's Go to the Court

If nothing else helps, you can always make a lawsuit of it. You don't actually need any more information about this approach. It depends on which country you live in, but if the cops actually care, it will likely be a troublesome and expensive process that probably only works if your brand is well-known.

Stolen article cop meme
Poor wife of Rob will never understand why he never came to rescue her

Let the World Know

The last approach of how to report a stolen article I will present today, is to let the world know about it. This may be a bad idea if they only have stolen something from you personally. Chances are that you will just give them attention in form of publicity, backlinks, site visits etc.

Reading this article, you may realize this is kind of what I have done. I make people aware of what is happening. I'm not interested in denigrating anyone, rather I want to enlighten the problem and assist with a suggested solution, turning setbacks into knowledge. For that reason, I don't mention the name of the site on topic, because I wouldn't recommend trying to defame anyone.

Parent equal to mum or dad
mum or dad::boot()... Who thought it was a good idea to replace words in the code?

Conclusion

There are multiple ways to report a website that has stolen your blog article. What's probably most important is to get it removed from appearing in Google searches, otherwise it will compete with your site's SEO directly. In other cases, it may be important to get the article removed from the website that stole it.

By reporting a stolen blog articles correctly, you can help preventing the website from continuing stealing articles from others. Personally, I would suggest the following approach.

  • If you think the website may have published your article by mistake or with a good intention, contact them to sort out any misunderstandings without taking any further steps. It's not fair to punish them for an innocent mistake.
  • If it's obvious that they consciously have stolen your article for their own benefits, don't get in touch with them. Contacting them may help you get the article removed, but they can carelessly continue to steal articles from other people.
  • Report the stolen article to Google. Google can stop displaying the stolen article in search results on google.com, and they can potentially also decide to stop indexing that website completely if they receive reports from many people.
  • Contact the hosting provider of the website and let them know about your case. Copyright infringement may be a violation of their terms of use, which gives them the rights to disrupt the hosting of the website.

Discussion (17)

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code_jedi profile image
Code_Jedi • Edited on

Well made article! It reminds me of a time, about 6 months ago, when I published a post on dev.to, then reposted it on medium but before I reposted it, another website stole my article without even mentioning me. Now, I couldn't really care less, until the day after I reposted my article on medium, medium banned my account because they thought I stole the article from the website that actually stole it from me. Long story short, I wrote to medium, they fixed it, but what's really interesting is that my stolen article was ranking like 5 places higher on google than my original.

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perssondennis profile image
Dennis Persson Author

Thanks! Glad to hear it turned out well for you in the end.

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maxrpark profile image
Maxi Ruti Park

Wow that is interesting. Did medium banned the account that stole your article?

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello

@perssondennis I believe I found some of my DEV posts on a site that is most likely the one you refer to here. Looks like they just randomly replace words here and there. They didn't even notice that one of the posts in question was specifically about DEV and wouldn't really make sense on other sites. I just submitted reports to Google. I was wondering what your thoughts on reporting to the hosting provider for this specific site? Any sense of whether it will be effective in this case since you've already experienced this site's blatant infringement.

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perssondennis profile image
Dennis Persson Author

Hello Vincent, I would guess it's the same site. I have seen a couple of sites like this, but this one is the only one I know replacing words like that.

I did never report the site to the hosting provider when I wrote this article. I have only reported a few stolen articles to google, and they do remove them.

I did look up the hosting provider though, but didn't go any further because both their support and contact page is behind a login screen. You can find the hosting provider by searching for the site on whois and look at the name servers. The hosting provider's site has a blue theme. I won't mention their name here since it's not good publicity.

However, I did get a bit curious now when you asked about it. So I decided to simply ask them in their chat on their website. Turns out their terms of service forbid copyright infringement and when asking if they would take down such a site they answered:

if any one report we will not take down immediately we will forward report to client for removing content in 24 hours if he will not remove in 24 hours then we will take action

They told me reports should be emailed to abuse@THEIR_WEBSITE_NAME.com or support@THEIR_WEBSITE_NAME.com.

Hard to tell if they would take the whole site down, but I'm sure they at least would help to remove articles you own the copyright to.

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello

Thanks for detailed reply. I did look up their host via whois. I suspect it is the same site. Your description of theme of host website matches. Google removed 1 from search results already. The other requests are listed as approved, just not removed yet. Ironically the one case was a post I made yesterday where the DEV version isn't even indexed yet.

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perssondennis profile image
Dennis Persson Author

Ah I see :) The indexing happened for me too, neither DEV or my blog was visible, only the fraud copy. I simply requested a new indexing of my site at search console and now mine show on top :)

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unsungnovelty profile image
Nikhil • Edited on

This is an interesting post. Thanks for the info. I would also recommend you to publish your article to multiple other sites with your original canonical link ( POSSE) quickly after you publish the original. This AFAIK should increase the legitimacy of your article and there by make the leech articles to come down on search engines. Do correct me if I am wrong here.

Another interesting aspect others should think about ( not the author since his work is copyrighted) is license. If you use Creative commons licenses, make sure you use Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND) or Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND. Every other licenses in CC AFAIK lets you make derivatives. All they have to do is attribute you. Which doesn't enforce linking it as canonical links. You will lose traffic here as well.

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perssondennis profile image
Dennis Persson Author

Great point there with licenses, that's something people often forget to think about :)

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muchwowdodge profile image
Anton Rhein

That seems terrible :(
Did anybody else experience the high ranking of cheap StackOverflow clones, that are replicating all the threads as well? Seems to be a Trend nowadays.
I don't like pay/subscription walls, but have the impression, that they may become handy for decreasing the amount of such infringements. And suddenly the World Wide Web becomes the accumulation of Group Wide Webs. (Not all) people are evil.

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perssondennis profile image
Dennis Persson Author

Ya, I have seen a StackOverflow clone once or twice recently. Not more than that. I'm surprised to see they getting ranked so high though.

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maxfindel profile image
Max F. Findel

This sounds terrible, Dennis. I'll go ahead and subscribe to the replies. I'm curious if someone has other ideas 💡

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perssondennis profile image
Dennis Persson Author

Yeah it is quite terrible actually. Visiting the site on a phone without an adblocker prompts for notifications and shows popups about the phone being in danger. Definitely not a legit site.

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perssondennis profile image
Dennis Persson Author

screenshot of the site here.

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Wow didn’t know about all this thanks for sharing it.