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Dealing with Copied Content: Easier, Faster DMCA Notices

By Edited Mar 8, 2016 20 21

What a Pain!

Here's how to deal with this problem.

All article writers learn very early on that other websites will steal their content. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prevent this, and it is up to the copyright owner to protect their work. However, in order to protect earnings and assert copyright, it is necessary to keep an eye on any copies that pop up and send notices to take down content that copies yours.

It's frustrating, I know, but luckily, there is a way to semi-automate the process, and spend far fewer hours having to research and file takedown notices. So get started and breathe a sigh of relief that you will reclaim at least some of those hours!

Step 1

Set up Google Alerts

In Google Alerts, add an alert with the title of your article in quotation marks.

  1. It should look like this: "The Title of My Article"
  2. Then choose the following selections: 
    1. How often: "As it happens"
    2. How many: "All results"
  3. Deliver to - ensure that you give the correct email address. To semi-automate the process, use Gmail for best results.

Now repeat this procedure with four different snippets of random content from your article contained in quotation marks. Four six-word snippets for each article is usually enough.

You will have to repeat this process once for each article. If you do this before you publish new articles, you will receive an alert for your article being published, too, but any copies will be caught within seconds.

Note that this will not work for already-existing copies; however, it will work reliably to catch new copies, even of older articles.

Step 2

Stop the Money Train

The whole reason others are copying your content is in order to make money. Stop them in their tracks by getting their Adsense accounts banned, because they are in violation of the Google Adsense Terms of Service.
Report the infringer to Adsense

At the top, enter the site URL if you are going to report multiple violations; otherwise insert the URL of the page that has your article. Choose the option that says the site is distributing copyrighted content.

Step 3

Help Google Understand What is Happening

Google wants to know if copied content is appearing in search results higher than the original content. Helping them to improve their algorithms helps fight the thieves. NOTE: The scraper report is no longer accepting responses.
Report copied content that is ranking higher than yours

Copyright Symbol
Credit: Public Domain

Step 4

Filing a Notice of Infringement

The Notice of Infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act informs people who steal content that they are in violation of the law. Your next step is to make sure the page with your stolen article is taken down. This process may take a while, but be patient.

If the infringing material is on Blogger (you'll know because the address will have "blogspot" in it), use Google's report to get quick action.  Select the option that says, "I have an issue not listed here." The next page of the form will have an option for copyright violations.

If it is not hosted on Blogger, first, look at the website and see if there is a "Contact" link. If so, email the owner of the site and request the material be taken down. If there is a Contact Us form instead, paste the letter below into the form.

If you can't find the owner's contact information, use the WHOIS lookup to find their email. It is a violation of ICANN domain name policy to list incorrect contact information.

Here is the form to use to contact the site owner (replace the parts in uppercase letters with your own information):

Subject: Notice of Infringement Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is INSERT NAME and I am the INSERT TITLE of INSERT COMPANY NAME [you can simply say, "I am an author at Infobarrel, for example]. Your website is currently infringing on at least one of my copyrights and the following serves to assert my rights to request removal of the content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). I am filing this report in good faith of alleged copyright infringement am contacting you as the designated agent for the site upon which the infringing work currently appears. This letter is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in article 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law.

I am the copyright owner of the works listed below and the following is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge.

The original work, which I claim copyright for, appears online with my permission at the following locations:


Copies of this original work have been attached to this email for your evaluation and determination.

The unauthorized and infringing copy/copies can be found at:


I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights my company owns are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate, and I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.

Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.

Thank you.


City, State Zip

If you have no response from the owner in 48 hours, look up the host on WHOIS and email them. Or if the information on WHOIS is private, contact the host.

Here is the form of the email to use with the website host (the Subject: field is the same as the other email):

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is INSERT NAME and I am the INSERT TITLE of INSERT COMPANY NAME. A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on at least one copyright owned by my company.

An ARTICLE/PHOTO/FILE was copied onto your servers without permission. The original ARTICLE/PHOTO/FILE, to which I/we own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at:


The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:


This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.

Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your servers with all due speed should the direct infringer, your client, not comply immediately.

I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights my company owns are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate, and I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.

Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.

Thank you.


City, State Zip

Step 5

Stop the SEO "Masters"

 If part of your article is mixed in with spam or nonsense text, then reporting that to Google also helps defeat the stealers. First, read about what Google considers spam.
Report Spam/Meta Text to Google

Step 6

Getting Your Search Position Back

Remove the site from Google Search when the website appears in search results, but isn't available anymore (you receive a 404 error when you visit the page).

Also remove the site from Bing Search.

Step 7


This is a bit complex, but it will make your life a lot simpler. Here are the steps to automate the process somewhat (note that fully automated DMCA takedown notices are illegal, so you must review them before you send them).


  1. Set up your alerts as described in Step 1.
  2. Create a digital inventory: You need to do this in any case, if only for your heirs when you die. Create a spreadsheet with the name and URL of each of your articles, photos, and files. For photos, music files, and ebooks, also include the filename.
  3. Bookmark the reporting links in Steps 2, 3, 5 and 6, as well as the WHOIS and ICANN links, and group them together in your bookmarks.
  4. Email Templates: From Step 4, copy and paste the two email forms into your email handler, and save them as templates: one as DMCA Owner, and one as DMCA Host. If you don't have a way to save them as templates, save them as drafts, and use those to copy and paste. Pre-edit those by filling in your name and your electronic signature, to save time, and save them. (In Gmail, this is pretty simple. Under Settings, select the tab that says "Labs", then select "Enable canned responses," then click "Save changes." Now save the emails as templates.)

When you receive an alert, click the link provided and visit the website. If the website is indeed infringing your copyright, you can easily send the Notices of Infringement.

  1. Load your spreadsheet and templates for DMCA Owner and DMCA host emails.
  2. Open the reporting bookmarks and fill in the appropriate forms (not every form will apply in every case).
  3. Fill in the "To:" Field (your subject should already be filled in) with the email address from the WHOIS or the site contact information.
  4. Fill in the URLs (a couple of copy/pastes should do it—one from your spreadsheet, and one from the alert).
  5. Either paste the DMCA Owner email template into their contact form, or email it to the address provided for the website owner (either on the site or via the WHOIS information). (In Gmail again this is pretty simple. Start a message, then click on "More options." From the menu, select "Canned responses" and pick your template.)
  6. Send your email.
  7. As you are doing this, go ahead and fill out the website urls on the copy to be sent to the host and save it as a draft or send it.
  8. Save the Alert to a special folder just in case. Because it is timestamped by Google, it may help serve as evidence if necessary.

If Your Email Bounces

What to do Next

If the email on the WHOIS address is not correct, report them to ICANN (which manages domain names). If the owner does not correct the address in a timely fashion, then ICANN will remove their domain.

For More Information

Copyright and permissions
Amazon Price: $12.25 $9.26 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 8, 2016)
This book, written by a professional permissions editor, covers many aspects of intellectual property law in a format that is easy to understand. The author includes sections on digital intellectual property, and how to secure your rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

If your article has already been deleted, because of a site closing, or because you deleted it without checking for copies, it may still be possible to file Notices of Infringement, but you'll have to work a little harder because you'll need to search for an archived copy.

The process of reporting stolen content has just gotten so much easier! Once you have put your existing articles into Google Alerts, all you need to do is to add your new articles to Google Alerts before you publish. You should get the notice of your publication first, before any copies are scraped and published. Save this alert to a designated folder for newly-published material, so that you have a timestamp from Google, which will help to establish your copyright, should any problems occur.



A huge "thank you" to Kevin and Ryan, the InfoBarrel admins, for allowing me to publish this article when it breaks so many of InfoBarrel's publication rules. Please don't use this article as a model for writing other articles on InfoBarrel; this one is a big exception, and I am very grateful.



Jun 17, 2014 7:36pm
Wow, this is so complete. Thank you for putting together something that will help us all - and I'm sure this took a great deal of preparation and planning classicalgeek. Sincerely appreciating you and your presence here on IB.
Jun 17, 2014 7:40pm
Excellent, will be bookmarking this for sure.
Jun 18, 2014 6:16am
Another fantastic tutorial. Two thumbs up!
Jul 10, 2014 2:05am
This should be part of everyone's publishing process. I have implemented alerts on just about all of my older articles and I suggest everyone else do the same because it is the only way you can know if your work has been stolen.
Aug 6, 2014 6:31pm
This is fantastic information! I'm going to go through this process today. cheers!
Aug 6, 2014 6:32pm
p.s. shared.
Aug 7, 2014 5:58am
This article is so through, and as a new write and website owner you have provided me with so much information in order to protect myself for copywriters. Thanks for taking the time to example not only what happens but what to do if it happens and how to protect yourself. Great article. I definitely need to share this.
Thanks again
Aug 30, 2014 11:33am
This is an article that every writer should have printed out as a resource. I am going to keep it handy myself. To be honest, I have reached the point that I simply assume that all my articles have been copied by someone! I like your approach, though. I am going to keep a copy of this onhand!
Sep 27, 2014 11:13am
How do I save this article?
Sep 27, 2014 1:13pm
You can bookmark it in your browser. Often Control-D works.
Sep 28, 2014 10:58am
Thanks for the tip, Control D works. Really appreaciate it, this make saving great articles much, much easier. Peace RJS
Sep 27, 2014 9:45pm
Thanks...very helpful article!
Oct 20, 2014 10:47am
Thank you! I'm in the process of setting up my alerts. Appreciate the great tips you share in this article.
Dec 1, 2014 10:18pm
Bookmarking this. Thank you! :)
Jan 7, 2015 1:10pm
Thank you. I have not yet published an article, however, in my planning, I'm glad you pointed out your post in the forums here at IB.
Feb 10, 2015 12:35pm
How long does it take for an alert for an article that you just published? I tried this today but have not received anything from Google after the publication.
Feb 10, 2015 2:13pm
If you set up the alert before publishing the article, you should see it as soon as Google indexes it (be sure check all your different folders in gmail until you find the right one). If you set it up afterwards, it will take until a copy appears.

Note that you can use ifttt.com (as outlined in http://www.infobarrel.com/The_Lazy_Way_to_Promote_Your_Articles_Blog_or_Website) to notify you another way when an email is received from a particular sender, so even if you're not where you can check your email, you can get a text, or with the right equipment, even turn the lights red or blink them.
Feb 10, 2015 4:18pm
Thanks for the reply. I did the alert prior to publication, so I guess it has not been indexed yet. I was not sure how quickly it happened.
Feb 10, 2015 5:19pm
In recent weeks it seems to take a few hours to 2 days. For the two I wrote this week, it's been about 24 hours.
Oct 7, 2015 4:45am
Thank you classicalgeek for the wonderful tutorial. Bookmarking now...
Jul 20, 2016 4:30am
Talk about "Must read content"! Awesome job done here in a minutely complete, informative, and orderly fashion! Thank you classicalgeek for this well-done, extremely useful tutorial!
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