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June 1, 2011

Hi Jill,

I'm an avid reader of your newsletter, even though some of it is more technical than I keep up with. Thank you for demanding integrity of everyone in the online community. You're making a difference for sure.Photo Credit: elizaIO

I never go searching the web for competitors because we have enough connections with others who do that without our asking, and we focus on improving our marketing. But one of our connections came across a horrible website that copied our homepage and used it for their "About Us" page.

Our site is copyrighted and I have a few choices:

1. Send them a letter asking them to remove this page and to write their own website.
2. Paying an attorney $300+ to write them a serious "cease and desist" letter.
3. Report them to Google for falsely loading keywords into their homepage.

What would you do in this case?

Thank you.


++Jill's Response++

Hi Michael,

You can certainly do all of those things, but the easiest and perhaps fastest route would be to file a DMCA complaint to have the content removed from Google.

Glad you enjoy the newsletter, and thank you for letting me know. Good luck getting your stolen content removed. Please let me know if the DMCA complaint works!


Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, an SEO Services company in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalenJill Whalen

If you learned from this article, be sure to sign up for the High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter so you can be the first to receive similar articles in the future!
Post Comment

 Anonymous said:
I despise copyright thieves. And I don't believe the burden should be on the copyright holder to hassle the removal of the material.

Consider suing them. But make sure you get a good lawyer [removed lawyer names]

You should be able to net 10, 20k or perhaps more.
 Julie Hunkar said:
We have had great luck with just emailing the offending parties and asking them to remove the content. We give them a week to remove it. I'd say 90% of the time it is removed. The major exceptions are when they are outside of the US - India, China, etc. We've had to go to the hosting company once or twice, GoDaddy in one instance, and had the pages/site successfully taken down.

Here is an example of what we send to the offender - I suggest finding every email address associated with the site and sending to all of them:

Your web page at this URL:

Contains 134 words matching our text exactly on our page here:

Please remove our copied text by the morning of Monday, October 29th so we do not have in involve lawyers or ask your web host to remove.

We check our content with and if you do not remove it we will automatically know.

Thank you in advance for your immediate attention to this matter.


Name, Title
Company Name

I have used Copyscape ever since we first had a problem and continue to use them to be notified of any copied pages/content.
 Michael Penny said:
Thank you for your input, Jill. I wrote to Google. It took about 30 minutes to complete their form, and yesterday they sent me this email.


Thank you for your note.

In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have completed
processing your infringement complaint. The following webpages have been
removed from Google:


Please let us know if we can assist you further.

The Google Team
 Jill Whalen said:
That's great to hear, Michael!

Glad it worked so well, and hopefully others can benefit from this post as well.
 Mary Kay Lofurno said:
Yes, it usually works pretty well. I have never had a problem getting a page removed as long as you follow the DMCA.
 Finn Skovgaard said:
I've had many instances of pirate copies of my articles. One article had been spread all over the web after someone had placed a copy on an ezine site as shared copy - mentioning himself as author of course. Ezine sites contain a lot of junk, some of it copyright infringing stuff. Some junk sites consist exclusively of articles copied from ezine and similar sites.

The first thing to do is to ask the infringing party to remove the content if one can find contact information. But a few people put their head in the sand.

If reporting to Google (which can be done online now at, one needs to file a report for each Google service, for example one report for the search engine and another for Adsense (if the infringing site displays Adsense ads).

But a DMCA report to Google doesn't always get the content removed.

It often works to complain to the site owner in cases like blogs and ezine sites where third parties can post content. These sites normally don't want to risk legal action, so they mostly act quickly.

If the site owner is the infringing entity, or if the site owner doesn't react, then one can sometimes look up the web hosting company, for example on and complain to them. They often react quickly too. I've seen an example where they took the entire site off the web because of a single page infringing copyright (it was the site of the guy who'd placed my article on an ezine site with himself as author). It came back up some weeks later, with the infringing content removed.

As already mentioned, it is possible that there are a few instances left where one doesn't get anywhere, and it is often Russian or Asian sites.

Legal action can be costly and risky. There is never any guarantee for the outcome of justice. And if domestic legal action can be costly, then consider the implications of filing a lawsuit in a country on the other side of the planet. This would be a last resort, and one that needs careful thought.
 Jill Whalen said:
@finn thankfully it worked on this case.
 Yikes said:
I just went through this. Google emailed me back and said it was confused by my complaint, which was clear. I spelled everything out at 4th grade level and assumed I'd never hear back. But bingo in a week or so I got the removal notice.

I'm always super critical of the "Mighty Oz" style of communication at Google, but have to give props in this case. Maybe things are getting better.

As far as emailing the thief, I did so once before when they took my content, and it was removed. But in this instance nothing happened and I went to Google.

Does anyone know if it helps to do a spam report as well? The directions indicate stolen content would be grounds, but not sure if that's overcommunication.
 Jill Whalen said:
@Yikes, if it gets removed from Google via the DMCA complaint, then there's really no reason to do a spam report as well.
 Finn Skovgaard said:
@Yikes I have experienced the same need with Google to spell out precisely where the infringing content is, even in quite obvious cases. If it has been edited just slightly, Google just gives up if you don't tell them almost word for word where the content is. Once, they just closed the DMCA notice without having asked me and insisted I had to file a new report if they were to look at it again. Sometimes, they clearly don't read what one e-mails them, as they have come back and asked for the exact same information that I had just sent two days before. Given that they are considered the leading search engine, it is surprising that their DMCA staff seem to be working almost at pen and paper level without appropriate tools. They clearly don't allocate their brightest heads to this task, which must - admittedly - be extremely boring.

There is a particular problem in the case of blogs that roll older content over to higher-numbered pages when new (junk) content is added at the beginning. Google removes the specific page, but once the infringing text has been rolled over to a higher-numbered page, one has to file a new DMCA report and so on, until the content falls over the edge, for example after page 9. They refuse to remove the entire blog.
 Drew said:
I once had someone copy an entire site, replace the logo in the header with a badly scaled version of their own, and re-write the text. They left everything else exactly as it was, including OUR analytics tags! That, of course, was how I found the site, as their traffic started appearing in my logs. Anyway, at the time the site was still in development and was using some stock images that hadn't yet been licensed. We simply directed the nice people at Corbis to the other site and said "hey, these guys are stealing your pictures". A few weeks later they had a new website up, although I can't say for sure who they stole it from that time!
 Graham said:
The problem with just getting it removed from Google is that it may still stay with the other search engines (even though that might not amount to much publicity). Ideally the copied text needs removing by the site owner, so maybe try contacting the site owner first, and threaten with contacting Google.
 Keli said:
Does this hold true for page titles? My competitor has copied my home page title, with the exception of two *dashes*. I'm livid... but still #1.
 Jill Whalen said:
Keli, I'm not sure if a page Title is copyrightable. Check with an attorney.
 Michelle Lessing said:
I filed a DMCA report on May 8 and the only thing I have received is a list of the URL's that I reported and that the URL's are pending. How long does it take? The alleged copywriter is basically copying the idea of my site. Tell me how is it possible to move from page 28 in Google search to 3 or 4 below me in less than four months? It took me more than 18 months to get to #1 on google search and I was on page thirty something. Is it worth it to file again or do I sit and wait for some type of response? Any other suggestions are welcome.