What You Can Do When Your Online Writing Gets Ripped Off

A freelance writer's blog post gets scrapedIf you write anything online, it happens sooner or later: Somebody reproduces, recycles, or excerpts your work without permission.

I can tell you that the bigger and more popular your blog or your online reputation or the blog you’re guest posting on, the more often it happens. So at this point, I’ve had a quite a few experiences with it.

Earlier this week, for instance, I was alerted that a super-useful guest post I published by writer James Hart on How I Found 16 Freelance Writing Client Leads at Lunchtime had been spun a bit and re-posted a few weeks later on another website for writers.

The new post had the exact same three basic points and resources cited as well. The statistics had been tweaked to be a bit different, but it was clearly a light rewrite of the same post.

The good news is you can often get the offending piece taken down, and without having to issue threats or hire a pricey lawyer. Here’s my guide to how to proceed:

1. Don’t jump to conclusions

The worst thing you can do is come at the offender first thing all indignant and firing blazing emails full of rudeness and screaming capital letters. Take a couple of deep breaths.

Don’t assume they know they’ve done something wrong. My experience is that often, bloggers are simply ignorant of copyright law. If you fill them in, they will correct the problem.

2. Educate

I usually start by finding a contact and sending a polite email along these lines:

Hi [site owner’s name] — I just noticed your post (HEADLINE/LINK/DATE HERE), which is lifted entirely from my post (HEADLINE/LINK/DATE HERE).

I don’t know if you’re aware, but it is a copyright violation to reproduce others’ online work without permission or payment.

There are a couple of options for fixing this — you can simply remove it, or you could post the first paragraph or so, and then link to it on my site. That’s known as “fair use” and you’re in the clear if you keep the reprint very short and then link to the original source. I prefer not to sell reprints because of how Google penalizes duplicate copy, so that’s not an option here.

Reprinting works illegally on your site can cause your host to decide to take your site down, which I’m sure you don’t want! So appreciate your help on this.

Please let me know how you plan to proceed —

 

SIGNATURE

I can tell you that the vast majority of times I send this out, I get back a very apologetic email. It’s often a brand-new blogger who simply loved my post and was all excited to share it with their friends…and who was completely unaware that reproducing it in its entirety wasn’t kosher.

3. Find hidden emails

Sometimes it’s just not that easy. You go to the offending site and there’s no sign of an email or a human being’s name.

That was the case here — the Home page was just a form to subscribe to a newsletter. There was an About paragraph on the bottom, but with no human names or photos and no email address or other contact listed.

I did find a writer named as the author of James’ article on the site, and her name linked back to a writer profile. From there I got a writer website link and was able to find an email. Dashed off a message to her, but I didn’t stop there.

4. Try social media shaming

After emailing the “writer,” I turned to social media to try to find the site owner. No sign of the offending site on Twitter, but there turned out to be a very busy Facebook page, with a link to the offending post having gone up just hours before. This gave me a chance to point out the plagiarism publicly — a strategy I find often gets quick results:

 

Facebook-Freedom With Writing

Not sure if it was the email or the Facebook comment this time, but results were swift! Within a couple of hours, I noticed a backlink in my blog comments.

The site had deleted the plagiarizing writer’s byline and shifted the post to a shorter, more “fair use”-sized excerpt, using only the first couple of paragraphs of their version and then linking to the original post:

Freedom With Writing - Fair Use post

I also got an apology message on my own blog’s Facebook page. Give it a read, and you’ll see it raises yet another reason not to be all mad at the site right off — sometimes the site owner isn’t aware until you point it out that they’ve been ripped off, too.

They may have paid a writer for a post that turned out to not be original:

Freedom With Writing - Apology

5. If all else fails: Two final options

If you try a gentle request for removal and get no response or a refusal, there are two options left to you. The first I can highly recommend: Forget it and move on.

I know…it’s so galling! But run an Alexa check on the offending site and see if they have any traffic at all. Often, they don’t. They’re literally a speck in the blogosphere.

When I started guest posting for Copyblogger, this is what they taught me, to just breathe and move on. It happens. (You can imagine how much it happens to them.)

If they’re nobody, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. The energy you spend hunting these tiny-site content scrapers is better spent developing new, great articles or blog posts.

If you can’t let it rest and feel you need to pursue it, you can find the site host through a WhoIs search, find their host, and report the copyright infringement to the host company (the likes of HostGator, BlueHost, etc.). Sites are routinely pulled off the Internet by hosts when it’s proved that they are violating copyright laws — their policies prohibit lawbreaking by the sites they host.

To me it’s never yet been worth the hassle of this, but it is an option. I prefer to play nice and persuade site owners of the error of their ways. It’s an approach that usually gets results, and lets you keep it friendly and professional.

Has your writing ever been ripped off? Leave a comment and tell us how you handled it.

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61 comments on “What You Can Do When Your Online Writing Gets Ripped Off
  1. Emily says:

    Hi – I actually fell on the other side of this situation once, and quite without intending any harm – I copied an idea for a blog link up, rather than content, but it sure provoked a strong reaction. I did not mean anything by it – I was even open about the fact that I’d found the idea and really liked it and wanted to emulate it. The only thing I didn’t do (and sure learned my lesson) was to contact the originator of the idea first to see if it was OK with them. I just assumed it would be (again, learned my lesson!). The most upsetting thing about the whole situation for me was that no matter what I tried to do to make up for the anger and hurt I’d caused, and no matter how I tried to apologize, all while trying to keep it between the originator and myself, I could not get anything back but insults and fury – and very public ones at that. I changed the idea of course and left it there, but it was an upsetting situation all round.
    Emily recently posted…Writing Tip of the Day, 21st October, 2013My Profile

    • If all you did was use the idea and not the content, then the other person hadn’t the right to get angry. Ideas and titles cannot be and are not copyright protected. As long as you don’t copy the innards of the piece, you’re good.
      D Kendra Francesco recently posted…Air, Our BreathMy Profile

  2. Holly says:

    Can you write a follow up post explaining how to find the content? I have a google alert for my name but that wouldn’t help me if they don’t use my name or with my blog posts. Thanks!!
    Holly recently posted…Dependable. Enthusiastic. Versatile.My Profile

    • I never thought about a Google Alert for my own name. Thank you for the idea.

      Now, about your question, can you make an alert for the first sentence of your blog? I know that might mean dozens of alerts if you’re a prolific writer, but I don’t think there’s any limit of alerts. On the other hand, as Carol said, it might not be worth it, especially if it’s a tiny site.
      D Kendra Francesco recently posted…Permission GrantedMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      As I say in the post…I usually have internal links within a post back to other posts on my blog. So when they rip it off, those show up as pingbacks I can see in my WordPress dash. That’s usually how I catch on.

      Others might run their posts through Copyscape or whatever but I don’t have the time for that.

  3. Riley Banks says:

    The one thing I learned when studying journalism is that you can’t copyright an idea. For example, if someone wants to take my blog idea and write their own thoughts about that idea, I can’t claim they’ve stolen my idea. However, if they have stolen the vast majority of my content and just changed it around a bit so as not to be direct plagiarism, that is a violation of copyright.

    That’s why whenever I write new blogs, I try not to use many notes at all. I have the idea, and sit down and write what comes to me immediately. Even if I am using another blog post or article as inspiration, I won’t refer to it at all while I am writing. That way, the content is entirely mine.

    Thanks for clarifying a few points on reposts though. Since I started blogging, I’ve never been entirely sure on what the protocol is – whether you can repost the whole blog post with clear indication of who wrote it, or just a brief outline with a link to the original post to read the rest. Because I wasn’t sure, I was doing the latter, thinking it better to be safe than sorry. Glad I did now.

  4. I agree with all the points you’ve made. Posting on social media is very effective. I also like telling the offender that I will file a BBB compalint against them.
    Alina Bradford recently posted…Ozio Media Sends SpamMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Having just had someone threaten me with the BBB thing…I think if you’re not a member it’s of little consequence. And not sure how many people even think to look on there anymore. And the real thing is…will you really, file a complaint against them? I think it may feel like an empty threat.

      Where, I’ve just posted something on your wide-open FB page that makes you look bad…that seems to wake people right up. 😉

  5. L.J says:

    The biggest kick in the gut to me is a client who highly praises the work only to go AWOL when payment is due. Shameful.

    I’m currently fighting a poker site with an Alexa rating of approx 80,000 in the U.S for whom I wrote daily poker news articles. 2 whole months worth is unpaid at this point.

    My emails go unanswered yet the content it still published. Here’s the funny bit – I did some digging and found they are hosting their own site – so my note to the hosting company has conveniently gone unanswered as well!

    I haven’t tried the social shaming yet…off to do so now!

    Thanks!
    L.J recently posted…Passive Profits Niche Site Project – Entry #4 – Going live & Social NetworkingMy Profile

  6. Ha. That’s crazy. I haven’t had a that happen yet.

    It’s kinda flattering, your work was so good that it was worth stealing, you know?

  7. Ulrike Hill says:

    Thank you for this enlightening post. I often do use people’s blogs when I want to make a point about something but then I will write about the blog and create a link to the blog for the full story. It is more about supporting than lifting. But I think it is important that using someone else’s work is referenced and acknowledged.
    I agree that many writers are often ignorant about copyright law, hence my interest in this post.

  8. Marcie says:

    That happened to me once. I wrote the article as a guest post on a large site and the person wanted to submit it on my site with the same title! I told her that I could not accept it as it was really close to what I had written for another site. I plan to post both on my writing site.
    Marcie recently posted…Listen to My Author Interview with Toneal JacksonMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Better is to post a LINK to it on your site — that provides the social proof that you indeed wrote it for another market. AND avoids the duplicate content problem.

  9. One of my articles for Foxnews.com was lifted and some changes to the copy were made. I couldn’t find the name of the site owner so I asked Fox’s legal department to take care of it. I was in shock that they actually thought they could get away with it.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I love it when I write for a big site and I can turn those problems over to their legal team. Then they can decide how much it’s worth pursuing. I feel like they also have more resources at their command to take legal action if they decide to go that route. And meanwhile, I’ve been able to move on to more writing. 😉

  10. B@stards, always trying to get credit from someone else’s work it’s hilarious. I agree with you on this one Carol, especially #5. However I think the way you handled it with this post is the best solution over all. It is a teaching/learning moment and everyone can learn from this. Cheating only works on tests you didn’t study for in college not blogging you idiots!
    Darnell Jackson recently posted…Successful Freelance Writing Online – ReviewMy Profile

  11. Wow, it’s so sad that people don’t understand that copying and pasting, easy as it may be, can indeed constitute copyright violation. Also strange there’s no contact information or human names on the offending site. Not the way to run a successful web site!

    I’m glad to hear this problem was resolved relatively painlessly.

    • Carol Tice says:

      You’d be surprised how prevalent the misconception is that “It’s on the Internet — so it must be free for me to use!” I’ve had a ton of bloggers scrape me where that was their honest impression.

      And yeah — every single writer who’s looked at the offending site here has the same reaction…that it doesn’t seem like a legit deal. Maybe it is, but the feedback on LinkedIn was very negative, and they certainly don’t come off in a human way. Which — as everyone who’s just gone through our 4-week Den bootcamp on writer websites already knows — is really, really important online. The Internet is an anonymous place, and you need to humanize your presence or people don’t trust you.

      Obviously, behaving ethically can also help.

  12. My online writing career began with a natural health blog. After writing for them for several months, I discovered my copy being scraped by several sites. Nothing I did helped, and the owner of the site that paid me told me just what you said, “Breathe and move on.” It was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. Every ounce of energy we put into making wrongs right could go into writing new content that will make us more money. Thanks for another great post, Carol.

  13. Thanks a lot for this excellent article with good advice as always Carol. Another way that I consider being ripped off is when your work is published on a website with your byline and later on your byline is removed. That exposure that one would get is gone after all the hard work and not much pay in some instances. How do you suggest that one deals with such a situation? Thanks in advance for your advice.
    Judy Haughton-James recently posted…Question TimeMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Judy —

      It would depend on your contract. Were they required contractually to show your byline? If so, I’d point that out to them and ask that it either be restored or the post removed.

      If they won’t help…remember, there’s always social media shaming. Reporting them to “Preditors and Editors” and other scam sites is also an option…man, I should have mentioned that in my post!

      • Thanks for your reply Carol. For quite some time my byline was on all my articles published on the website. In some instances more than a year. Suddenly the articles are appearing without bylines. I wonder why the change and I have written to the editor about it. I hope I get a response. It will be interesting to hear what is behind this decision. Thanks again.
        Judy Haughton-James recently posted…Question TimeMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          And don’t forget to ask yourself the other question — does that site get any traffic? Is anyone really seeing it anyway? Have you checked your own site analytics to see if that site was sending you traffic? If not maybe it’s time to not care, especially if you didn’t have this nailed down in your contract.

  14. Tom Bentley says:

    Carol, I fully agree that you should always take the high road in these situations, and see if it all can’t be worked out. However, as I mentioned on the Den, I had a client who engaged me to write all of the copy for a business site, and then he failed to make the final payment to me, which was many hundreds of dollars. He was very happy with the site writing; didn’t change a word, but just didn’t pay me.

    I emailed him invoices with a polite request for payment for six months, and never got a reply. I then emailed him (again, politely) saying that posting my work without payment is a copyright infringement under the DMCA (which it is), and telling him that unless I received payment within two weeks, I’d report the infringement to the site host.

    No payment, so I did report it, and now the site is offline. I emailed him again with an invoice at the beginning of this month, saying the outcome was regrettable, but that I’d be happy to rescind the takedown request if he would simply pay me what I’m owed. No answer. (And indeed, I know I’m emailing him at his active address and that he’s received the emails. He refused to pick up a certified letter at his box as well, while he picked up his other mail, according to the P.O.)

    Anyway, the whole thing is ridiculous. My client is a man who sells businesses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (he has multiple sites); he simply chose not to pay me. But what galled me the most is that after I finished the work, he never replied to another email of mine, even though we had been completely civil, even friendly, in all exchanges up to that point. It still baffles me.
    Tom Bentley recently posted…Feeling a Word’s Curves—Oh, the Ecstasy!My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, this is another whole category of thing — nonpayment for your original work. Glad to hear you got the site taken down! Doesn’t pay the bills, but at least he doesn’t get to use the content without paying the contract.

  15. rob says:

    does this mean i have to stop copy/pasting all your posts and claiming them as my own?
    rob recently posted…Cambodia the Land of Smiles? Gallup poll says yesMy Profile

  16. Great post. Weirdly enough, this has never happened to me even though I’ve done hundreds of articles online. Or maybe I just don’t know it’s happened :>)
    Jennifer Gregory recently posted…Freelance Friday: ASJA Content Connections 2013My Profile

  17. Most, but not all, are polite about it. One professional writer at http://www.writing-world.com reported how, at least twice on separate occasions, content mills ran articles that were effectively plagiarized from her work. The response to her complaints in both cases was a huffy, “Well, we’ll remove it if you insist, but MOST authors are glad to have us give them this sort of publicity.” One more reason to despise content mills.
    Katherine Swarts recently posted…Confused and MisusedMy Profile

  18. I would like to know how this applies to award memes for new bloggers. There is a lot of copying and pasting going on with these.

    I think your approach is one I would certainly adopt. It’s best to try to “play nice” than “play dirty”.
    Lorraine Reguly recently posted…Bloggers Helping Bloggers: My LinkedIn List On Google+My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Not sure I’m totally familiar with what you mean, Lorraine. I think I fell for one of those early on in my blog, but they didn’t duplicate any content, they just linked to my blog and wanted me to link to them with their banner. That’s just linking, not reprinting. But correct me if I’m wrong there?

  19. John Soares says:

    Carol, I really like your tiered approach, especially beginning with diplomacy.

    Some advice for bloggers who accept guest posts: insist that the work be original, and also do Google searches on a few phrases before you actually publish the post.
    John Soares recently posted…Twitter Hashtags for Freelance WritersMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s why I only take guest posts I’ve approved a headline and outline on. I get approached 10x a day by people who say, “I’ve written an original article just for your blog”…yeah. Don’t you believe it.

  20. Koren says:

    Hi Carol,
    Great post, as usual. Just a quick question from me. You mention “Google penalizes duplicate copy”. I wasn’t aware of that. How exactly does that work? For example, if the same story/post is published verbatim on multiple sites, does that mean it’s more likely to be pushed further down the search rankings?
    Thanks,
    Koren
    Koren recently posted…8 ways to be kind to yourself // #1: Give to yourselfMy Profile

  21. So what tools do you use to find sites that are scraping your content? And how much time do you put into it every week/month? I do use Google alert, but not sure that tool is useful for a task such as this.

    • Dan says:

      It’s tough to do, especially when you got a lot of content on your site. You can use Copyscape http://www.copyscape.com which is cheap and free if you don’t need it much.
      Dan recently posted…How a Blog Article Got Me Quoted as an Expert in a NYC NewspaperMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great question! I spend zero time actively trying to discover plagiarism or reproduction of my posts. I only learned of this one because a friend of the author’s was a subscriber to the offending site and picked up on the close similarity between his guest post here and the new article. She alerted him and he emailed me.

      Besides relying on loyal readers’ sharp eyes, I often find ripoffs because I usually have internal links to other posts of mine inside a blog post…and when they scrape it, they bring my links along with the post! So I get a trackback notice in my comment editor dashboard, where I’m typing right now responding to your comments.

      Just another great reason for bloggers to include internal links in their posts…they act as canaries in the ripoff coal mine. When I guest on bigger sites, I usually have one internal link back to a post of mine as well, which gives me that same trackback heads-up when those more widely read posts are getting scraped.

      I usually try to click on trackbacks I get to see what’s up — often a post by one of my readers that I might retweet! But sometimes, it’s because I’m being ripped off. So that’s mostly how I learn of it.

  22. Dan says:

    So this brings up the question I’ve always had is:

    How do you use an idea that another author had without plagiarizing? At what point are you not composing an original work and instead are engaging in plagiarizing?

    Do you simply cite a link to give credit to the parts of your article that used ideas from others?

    Personally, I don’t know if I’ve ever been ripped off, but I wouldn’t really pursue it aggressively unless it was a fairly major website.
    Dan recently posted…How to Write a Blog Article that Drives Sales, Comments, and LinksMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Ideas are not copyrightable, Dan. You’re free to use them again. You do not have to cite them in any way. They’re up for grabs, theirs, yours, and mine.

      What you’re not free to do is copy a single sentence of it, construct it with the exact same set of bullet points, interview quotes, writing, resources. You’re free to go off, do your own research, and write a completely new story on the topic.

      I’ve seen writers do this with my work many times — whole new story, maybe it’s got one source in common with mine, but they went out and did their own interviews and research work. I feel a little rankled…but take it as a complement that you have good ideas!

      • I’m going to admit to confusion here: what exactly does “original” content mean? Does it mean that notable quotables can’t be used?

        For instance, let’s say I’m writing a piece on why even unpopular viewpoints and writers of said viewpoints are necessary. Let’s also say that I want to use, “Andy Rooney once said, ‘A writer’s job is to tell the truth’.” (He was never unpopular, but he did rile people now and again with his decidedly un-PC comments.) In writing “original” content, does that mean I can’t use that, even though I attributed it to him? Does Copyscape ding articles that uses a quote or two?

        Not trying to hijack the article or the posts, all of which I appreciate. I just want to get clear on it once and for all: What is meant by “original” content?
        D Kendra Francesco recently posted…Permission GrantedMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          Hi D’Kendra —

          Using a single line like that falls within “Fair Use” — follow the link to learn more about that law.

          You can quote a small portion of someone else’s writing without being a copyright violator…but only a small portion. The trick is the exact amount you can use isn’t well-defined by law…but a general rule of thumb is one paragraph tops, and you’re in the clear.

          • Whew! I’d been concerned because of all the “Must be 110% original content” that I’ve been seeing. (gahh! 110%? Really? Someone needs to learn math.) I had the impression that quotes of any kind weren’t acceptable, which made no sense to me since most of us quote someone to either make a point or inspire another. Thank you.
            D Kendra Francesco recently posted…Permission GrantedMy Profile

            • Carol Tice says:

              Any site or ad you see that says “Must be 100% original content” is a site you don’t want to write for. They start talking about how they’re going to check Copyscape…these are all going to be gigs that don’t pay much of anything. It’s all junk content for robots to read.

              These are the type of articles where you’re throwing in random quotes from experts or famous people…because they’re not paying you enough to find and interview your own experts for the story.

              I’m certainly not the expert in how to write junk content because I’ve never written any…but I think a one-line quote from a famous person is probably going to be OK.

              Professional-rate clients never have this discussion because IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING that you are not going to plagiarize, because they are paying you enough for you to develop original articles.

  23. I’ve had some of my history pieces plagiarised in the past. I was tempted to let it slide until the same website copied a few others. In the end, I sent an email to them but received no reply. I had to go to Google to get their copied piece out of search results. Within a few weeks, the whole blog disappeared so it was worth the fight.
    Alexandria Ingham recently posted…How I Manage My Freelance Schedule and OpportunitiesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for sharing that story and another strategy — how exactly did you contact Google on this issue? That’s an approach I haven’t tried. I’m sure readers would appreciate some tips on that technique.

      But your story also points up what I was saying in my final point — a lot of times these are tiny sites that may just disappear on their own, or that no one reads anyway, so why invest your time in it. If you can’t readily contact them, sometimes it’s better to just move on.

      Though I do love using social media to get site owners’ attention — I find it usually brings a quick resolution. It’s our modern equivalent of shaming in the public square…the social-media stockade!

  24. Amber says:

    This article came at the perfect time. I just realized that TWO of my recent posts were scraped from my blog and put on other sites. I wasn’t sure what to do, so thank you for the suggestions. Time to write some strongly worded emails!
    Amber recently posted…How Safe Are Your Kids From The Measles Outbreak?My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      No, some politely worded emails. 😉 I promise, you catch more flies with honey on this kind of thing.

      Send a hostile email and you may well get a “So sue me” response. The fact is that’s not practical in most of these cases, so you want to be gently persuasive rather than nasty and aggressive. Once they bat the ball back to your court, you’re faced with hiring a lawyer and spending a bunch of time and money — and more importantly, more time dealing with the negative energy of the fact that you were ripped off, and how angry that makes you feel… I think it’s a real productivity suck.

      So remember to smile when you say “I think you copied my post…”

  25. Daryl says:

    After doing a little digging, I think that this Linked In thread explains quite a bit about the site named:

    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Recently-I-got-invitation-from-2724656.S.212156678
    Daryl recently posted…5 Reasons Why I Hate Bid Sites Like Odesk and ElanceMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      You know, I checked out that thread when I was researching them but didn’t read it all the way through — and it is enlightening!

      Apparently they don’t even provide job listings, just reviews of mills and “move-up” mills like Contently. Seems like something writers can live without. The sense I get from the thread and the owner’s response is that perhaps they don’t pay writers.

      You can see with this incident why I never accepted pre-written guest posts, only topics and outlines I approved and assigned for my guest posts. By the time I tweak it with the writer to the angle I want, it will have to be original content. Otherwise, its too easy to end up ripped off with duplicate content or a re-spun article like the one I found. Kristi Hines of Kikolani reported she kept discovering she’d been handed duplicate content for guest posts on her blog, which is why she pulled the plug on accepting them altogether.

      You can have the best intentions, but if you accept free or very low-paid, pre-written posts, plagiarism is going to happen as writers scramble to try to get exposure without doing any real work.

  26. Daryl says:

    Wow, even with the apology, the whole issue makes the website look really douchey.

    At the very least, he should have given an explanation for exactly how your content was “accidentally” plagarized.

    I have to wonder about the site, and whether or not other writers have been “accidentally” plagarized.

    I’m also a bit curious as to why the actual site only has a home page and not a full blown site…
    Daryl recently posted…5 Reasons Why I Hate Bid Sites Like Odesk and ElanceMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, everybody who’s checked it out had the same reaction — a home page with no content but a signup email box, no person’s name or contact email…it does come off scammy.

      I did a scan through the rest of their newsletter articles and didn’t see anything else of mine that looked suspiciously familiar, thankfully. But it does make you wonder about the quality of their content. I gather they provide some job leads, but my bet is they’re gigs you could find a bunch of other places. I was fascinated to see how big their Facebook audience is — promise writers a few job leads (even low-paying ones) and it’s amazing how fast they’ll hop on board.

  27. I’ve learned to breathe and move on. I could spend hours drafting e-mails and being pissed off or I could be working, making money, having fun. I think you sort of have to see it as a time issue eventually. Is it really worth getting your work removed from a website no one reads and/or cares about?

    If it were a for-profit magazine or business, though, I’d definitely take action. (And ask to be paid. I’ve succeed in doing this once when I was ripped off by a major international website.)
    Mridu Khullar Relph recently posted…4 Things You Must Do After You’ve Finished an AssignmentMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I don’t know if I would have bothered with this one if it was my own byline, but the guest poster was upset by it, so I went ahead and dealt with it. Writing for Freelance Switch, they actually have a reporting form their freelancers can use to alert their legal department, and we let them take it from there (my posts there are scraped verbatim pretty frequently). In this case, I felt like I am the legal department for my guest writers.

      Guess I usually think it is worth dashing off one quick email request to take it down. Or maybe as a blogger who educates writers a lot, I feel like it’s part of my mission to reach out and let them know they’re doing something wrong. Very often I find they don’t know it until I tell them.

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  1. […] seen journalists and freelance writers have success calling out the people who steal their work on the thief’s own social media page. […]

  2. […] If this theft of content has happened to you, find out what you can do about it in Carol Tice’s article “What you can do when your online content gets ripped off.” […]