It's conduct unbecoming
, plain and simple, and it happens all too often in our industry. I cannot count the number of stories I've read on VAF of other VAs finding that the content they worked hours and days at writing for their website has been unceremoniously STOLEN by someone else. Other stories tell of VAs who have been 'sold' content for their sites that has turned out to have been stolen by the supposed 'writer'.
Until now, this hasn't affected me directly - but tonight I received a very upsetting email from a VA who is also a member of this site. I not only designed and built her site for her but I fine-tuned and edited her content until it was impeccable. That VA found entire pages (plus images AND image tags bearing HER name and company name) on another VAs website.
I thought I'd post a thread about this so that we can all share ideas as to what we might do about this kind of thing.
So - what CAN you do when you find YOUR website or it's content has been stolen right out from under you? Here are a few things you can try (this is NOT legal advice):
1) First, use Screenhunter5 or similar to take screenshots of the stolen content on the offending website.
2) Send an email to the owner of the site requesting immediate cooperation in having the content taken down. Reference the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Give them 24 hours to comply. If they don't - follow up immediately.
3) If your email goes ignored CALL them. Find their phone number on the site itself and check the WhoIs information for registrar contact info.
4) Email the hosting company of the website and explain the situation. SOME webhosts will assist you. To find out who is hosting the site run a WhoIs search. Also mention the Digital Millennium Copyright Act if need be.
5) Report it to Google as duplicated content. This can be effective if you're able to get the site removed from the search index. Here's a link to Google's report form [select duplicate site or pages from the list]. Other search engines have similar processes.
6) Report it [privately] to the owners of Virtual Assistant groups, networks, forums and similar that you are a member of. Especially if the thief is a fellow member.
Read more on what you can do from CopyScape.
Have you had to follow up on a case of stolen content? How did you handle it and what was the outcome?