Saturday, February 27, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: When Someone Nicks Your Stuff

You write something good, and sell it to a newspaper. Next thing you know, someone has ripped off your work and posted it on their web site. What can you do?

I have blogged about this before but I'd like to revisit this as a friend is having similar problems. She asked me what advice I would give, so here it is...

1. Some people just don't understand it's rude to nick stuff. Plus, there are companies that have aggregated feeds, like Google News, that scour places of interest automatically. The best provide links to your page; nasty ones nick the article.

Either way, the first option is to write to them and tell them to remove your stuff. Look for the email address of the web master, CEO etc and send it off.

If that doesn't work...

2. Look up a contact number and call them. If there is no Contact Page, use MYNIC to look up who owns a .com.my or Malaysian domain or WhoIs for .coms or top level domain names.

A polite email or phone call usually works wonders. If it does not, try...

3. Make up a web page telling your story, and send that link to the web master etc. Bad publicity frightens most companies into doing the right thing.

4. Add a script that stops bots, spiders and other programmes from crawling your stuff automatically. Instructions are here. Note, however, that this usually means your pages won't show up in Google and other places automatically either.

4. Make a police report and call your lawyer.

As it costs a bomb to take a case to court, assuming you can afford a lawyer and find a court that understands this sort of problem, following through is not an option for mere mortals who aren't millionaires. Especially if the thief lives in a different country from you, and/or hosts their web site abroad.

However, this strategy can add spice to a followup email/call where you tell the thief to let your stuff alone and send them a copy of the report. Send it by fax if you can as faxes are read by lots of office staff who will all gossip - and maybe force the boss into behaving honourably.

Note. About fighting fire with fire... When the vets in Perak nicked my work the second time, I got really mad. For a few moments I really thought about finding a hacker and asking them to destroy that web site. I got over it a few moments later. Two wrongs may make you feel better but they don't make a right. Far be it from me to preach ethics, but when it's considered OK to destroy sites for one reason, it will lead to a situation where everyone considers themselves Almighty Online Arbitrators. And there's enough of that sort of thing going on already.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

5 comments:

Pam said...

I was reading something similar to this recently. The woman had posted a picture of her family on her blog. She lived in the US. Her friend in the Czech Republic sent her a picture of her photo being used in a local grocery ad. It's amazing how this happens.

Cheyenne -Millie said...

This was very interesting to read, and it must happen a lot.

Pam said...

If you have a chance, stop by my blog tomorrow and you can see my daughter's freak accident over the weekend. Strange things seem to happen to us.

Anya said...

Heel erg interesant Ellen :-)
Je hebt talent !!!!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Good on you for posting this so people learn about their rights! There are so many rude, lazy plaigarisers out there. I once had a teacher write to me because her student submitted a book review I did for Amazon as his assignment. She found the writing style uncharacteristic of the said student, googled some key words and phrases, and VOILA! found me. She told me she failed the student. BRAVO! We need more deterrents like this one.

By the way, Au's Tweets are so funny it had me laughing out loud. So where's the Chewaawaahwaa now?

Also, I have now gone back to fully blogging in my CO78 blog only, not the contest one. Thanks!