My Blog Post Was Stolen. Here is what I did and What You Can Do.

Last the weekend I was altered by a Good Samaritan (GS) that a Facebook page had posted my blog post, without giving me credit, on their page as if it was their own. I was first excited to know that someone, actually two someone’s, were reading my blog, then I was a little annoyed. Why would someone take my post without asking? It is so easy to do. So I thanked the GS and headed to the page I was told about to see what post they were using.

HA! You wouldn’t believe they had stolen a post I wrote on Copyright Infringement. YES! They were copyright infringing on my how not to copyright infringe post. The audacity! The irony! I mean it was word for word. Just blatant! Here it is in case you are curious:

So I gave them a chance to correct their “mistake”. Though I didn’t think it was a mistake as the GS pointed out, when they told the poster they should credit my blog the GS was blocked. An innocent mistake does not block those who alert them to the mistake. Now, I would have been fine had credit been giving but know,  giving credit is not enough, you must get permission to use someone else’s work. I posted a sassy comment under the post. Giving them a chance to correct their mistake. After a few hours I went to check the post. My comment was deleted and I was blocked from commenting on the page further. Now I was angry. Why can’t people just do the right thing?

So I began to weigh my options. Here is what I did, what I thought about doing, and what I may do in the future.

1. The first and easiest was to alert Facebook. Remember a couple of weeks ago when all those people and the then President got banned from Twitter? That was because Twitter said they violated their Terms of Use or Terms of Service. Like Twitter, Facebook has Terms of Use. So do most websites and other social media platforms. One common term is not to infringe on the copyright or trademark of others. Knowing this would be the fastest and easiest option I filled out the form to report the violation. Information on how to do that can be found here: https://m.facebook.com/help/325058084212425.

One of the first things I did when I saw the infringing post was take screenshots. I took shots of the post and my comment, which was good since it was deleted. The form asks you to provide the URL to your work, if you have one, and also a URL to the post that you say is in violation. You can also attach screenshots or pictures. I did both. Within 24 hours I was notified that the post was removed for violating Facebook’s terms.

2. If reporting the problem to Facebook did not work I considered sending a Cease and Desist letter. A cease and desist is letter sent to a person telling them that they are doing something wrong and they need to stop or there will be consequences. This type of letter can be effective when you want the behavior or infringement to stop. They can be particularly effective when written by a lawyer. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work in this case since this thief stole from a lawyer to begin with. They clearly don’t respect others or the law. But the letter was still an option.

3. I also thought about contacting the FBI, it was a fleeting thought but still a thought. Many of you have seen the FBI Anti-Piracy warnings before a movie. They take copyright infringement seriously. However, for the FBI to be involved it would need to be criminal infringement. Meaning the infringement brings commercial or financial gain. I don’t know if this page profited off of my post so while the FBI contacting them would have hopefully left them scared straight, I moved on from the idea.

4. The moment I wrote my blog post and posted it, it was copyrighted. A copyright is automatic as soon as you or I, the author, completes the work-music, photograph, book, blog post, etc. Additionally, my website terms lay out that all content is protected and no one is allowed to copy or use any content for their own purposes without permission. I’ll talk about the importance of website Terms in another post.

Even though my copyright was automatic it was not registered. If it had been registered I would have the benefits of it being public knowledge (well anyone who actually looks up registered copyrights) that the post is my work and I would be able to sue for infringement (which also fleetingly crossed my mind). It can take weeks to months to register a copyright so that wasn’t really going to be a quick solution for me.

5. I went through other posts on the page to see if I saw anything else that belonged to me. I didn’t which was good. I did see that the page would soon have its own website. Once up I will be checking in to see if they steal my work again. If they do I could send a takedown notice under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). This is a way for copyright holders to get their work removed from websites that have taken it without permission. The notice can be sent to internet service providers, search engines, hosting services, or site operators. So if my work shows up on website this is an option.

Luckily this was resolved easily and quickly. It could have been avoided if the page owner had simply asked permission.