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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.