Jennifer Laycock

Jennifer Laycock


Debra O'Neil-Mastaler - Alliance-Link

Making Lemonade From the Lemons

I spend a lot of time on the Internet every day. I offer customized link building campaigns as well as search engine marketing services, so I'm constantly looking for websites and news sources within specific industries and niche markets.

When I'm working, I become familiar with the sites in a given niche or marketplace; I have to in order to find link and ranking patterns that benefit my client's website.

Lately, I've noticed an alarming trend of what I call "copyright dj vu". I keep reading the same text on different sites over and the point where I quit reading the content because I know what's coming.

For the longest time I was just outraged at what some people passed off as their own, but over time I've learned how to deal with sites that copy content and can even turn some into useful link partners.

For example, when I find a site hosting my client's content and it's in a complementary niche, I email and ask for a link. I carefully point out the site's use of my client's verbiage and suggest both websites could benefit if they agree to give credit where it's rightfully due. Most bite and add the keyword rich anchor text link I send and my little "lemon" suddenly becomes lemonade.

But not all sites are created equal or are in a complementary market where you'd want to link. When these types of "lemons" come along, I suggest my client follow these easy steps:

  1. Screen shot the site hosting your copyrighted text and save it. You might need it for number 3 below.
  2. Write the site, point out the infraction and ask for the content to be removed. Provide a deadline and ask they contact you once the information has been taken down.
  3. If the deadline comes and goes and the content is still in place, find out who their ISP is and provide the following info via email or postal mail:
    1. A physical or electronic signature of the copyright owner, or the person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner;
    2. A description of the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
    3. A description of the infringing material and information reasonably sufficient to allow the ISP to locate the material;
    4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to contact you, including name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address;
    5. A statement by you that you have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
    6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner

Once the ISP receives notice of the copyright infringement (here's where the screen shot helps) they must take down the unauthorized material. That usually gets the offenders attention and they comply.

If you want to take it a step further and have the copied content removed from Google, follow the instructions they provide very carefully. I've had to do this in the past and was pleasantly surprised by the prompt and thorough action Google takes. In my case, Google replaced the pages hosting my content with links pointing to a complete report of the infringement on Chilling Effects. See a listing of the major search engine copyright infringment pages in Pursuing Copyright Infringers.

Copying content is not ok under any circumstance without the permission of the author. You can't use the excuses

"Someone else wrote the content, I just uploaded it",
"We hired an outside company to create content",
or "Isn' t it public domain once it's been uploaded?"

No, it's not public domain and none of those excuses will get you off the hook from being penalized when you're caught.

Be vigilant in looking for infringements, it's simple to do. Copy and paste a couple lines of your verbiage in the Google search box and see what comes back. If anything does, use one of the tips above and get a link back to your site or work to get your content removed.

This article first appeared in the Successful Sites Newsletter Debra O'Neil-Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, a search engine marketing firm specializing in link building campaigns and local search engine optimization strategies. She is a speaker at the Search Engine Strategies conferences and the High Rankings Seminars as well as moderator of the Link Building Forum at the High Rankings Forum.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > The Upside of Copyright Infringment

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.