So you figure out that some lowlife is grabbing your RSS feed and using it to populate his MFA splog. Maybe you used copyscape (www.copyscape.com) to find him, maybe you were alerted by a loyal reader. No matter how you find out, you need to take action to avoid Google’s duplicate content penalties, a loss of trust from your readership, or unfair advertising competition from your own content. So what can you do? The quickest and easiest thing you can do is send a DMCA letter (really!). Here’s how to do so in 3 easy steps:
- Figure out who to send the DMCA letter(s) to. Ideally, you’ll send one to the site owner, one to their web hosting company, and one to Google (cause Google rules the world, right?). You can get the site’s owner and technical contact info by running a ‘whois’ search on the URL. Sam Spade is my favorite, but any of the thousands of sites out there will work. Your results will look something like this (fearaid.org runs a splog that scrapes my sister-in-law’s blog – this tutorial is dedicated to her):
(Asked whois.pir.org:43 about fearaid.org)
Domain ID: D134551157-LROR Domain Name: FEARAID.ORG Created On: 07-Dec-2006 21: 09: 48 UTC Last Updated On: 13-Sep-2007 22: 49: 07 UTC Expiration Date: 07-Dec-2007 21: 09: 48 UTC Sponsoring Registrar: Directi Internet Solutions d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.Com (R27-LROR) Status: OK Registrant ID: DI_4999251 Registrant Name: Catherine Martinez Registrant Organization: N/A Registrant Street1: Providencia 2113 Registrant Street2: Registrant Street3: Registrant City: Santiago Registrant State/Province: Atacama Registrant Postal Code: 234213 Registrant Country: CL Registrant Phone: 562.315631 Registrant Phone Ext.: Registrant FAX: Registrant FAX Ext.: Registrant Email: email@example.com
Especially if the site owner is not in the US, you’ll want to send a DMCA letter to their hosting company as well, which has a better chance of being US based. You can do a reverse DNS lookup on the IP address of the site – in Sam Spade, just click on the ip address in the listing and it will take you to the information on the company that ‘owns’ the ip address their server is running. You’ll end up with something like this:
(Asked whois.arin.net:43 about +188.8.131.52)
OrgName: Time Warner Telecom Inc. OrgID: TWTC Address: 10475 Park Meadows Drive City: Littleton StateProv: CO PostalCode: 80124 Country: US ReferralServer: rwhois: //rwhois.twtelecom.net: 4321 NetRange: 184.108.40.206 - 220.127.116.11 CIDR: 18.104.22.168/17 NetName: TWTC-NETBLK-12 NetHandle: NET-209-163-128-0-1 Parent: NET-209-0-0-0-0 NetType: Direct Allocation NameServer: NS1.IPLT.TWTELECOM.NET NameServer: NS1.MILW.TWTELECOM.NET NameServer: NS1.ORNG.TWTELECOM.NET Comment: ADDRESSES WITHIN THIS BLOCK ARE NON-PORTABLE RegDate: 1997-11-12 Updated: 2004-02-18 OrgAbuseHandle: TWTAD-ARIN OrgAbuseName: Time Warner Telecom Abuse Desk OrgAbusePhone: 1-800-898-6473 OrgAbuseEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org OrgNOCHandle: TDN1-ARIN OrgNOCName: TWTC Data NOC OrgNOCPhone: 1-800-898-6473 OrgNOCEmail: email@example.com OrgTechHandle: NST12-ARIN OrgTechName: NOC SWIP Team OrgTechPhone: 1-800-898-6473 OrgTechEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org OrgName: Virtual Internet Systems OrgID: VIS-66 Address: 1307 Robincreek CV City: Lewisville StateProv: TX PostalCode: 75067 Country: US NetRange: 22.214.171.124 - 126.96.36.199 CIDR: 188.8.131.52/23 NetName: TWTC-VISY-3 NetHandle: NET-209-163-228-0-1 Parent: NET-209-163-128-0-1 NetType: Reallocated Comment: RegDate: 2006-05-15 Updated: 2006-05-15 OrgTechHandle: VIS4-ARIN OrgTechName: Virtual Internet Systems OrgTechPhone: 1-972-221-8416 OrgTechEmail: email@example.com
If you end up with multiple companies, it’s best to contact all of them. In this category, most of the email and fax listings will be accurate, so it’s not a major expense.
You’ll also want to keep Google in the loop, as they can carry a lot of clout. Their DMCA information page has their address and fax number as well. They do requite notification in writing, so you’ll need to warm up the fax machine or scrape up a stamp. You can also contact the Adsense Team, cutting off the revenue stream of the splog.
- Compose your letter(s) – the simplest could be something like this:
Subject: DMCA Notice of Copyright Infringement
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to inform you that the site spamblog.com contains copyrighted content from my site(s). Specifically, the text and images appearing at www.mysite.com/index.html and www.mysite.com/content.html
The offending copyrighted material is located at www.spamblog.com/index.html and www.spamblog.com/clicktheads.com
If you need more information, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone 216-555-5555 and my mailing address is John Doe, 123 Main St., Schenectady, NY 12345.
I have sent email requests to the owner of the offending site at email@example.com requesting the offending material be removed, but have not received any reply.
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
My signature below serves as my legal electronic signature.
October 16, 2007
If you would like more formal letters to be sent via fax or snail-mail, some excellent templates are available at www.mcanerin.com:
Google DMCA – MS Word Document (32k)
ISP DMCA – MS Word Document (38k)
- Follow up. You should give the recipients an appropriate delivery time plus 5-7 days to respond. If you don’t hear back from them re-send your letters. If you are mailing them, you might want to send them certified mail – it costs $2.65, but will definitely get the attention of the recipient. Those little green tags can put the fear of legislation into companies who assume that you are starting to gather official documentation for a case against them. Also move up the food chain as much as you can. Often cheap, inexpensive, spammy blogs are run on the cheapest possible hosting available. Cheap hosting is often provided through a reseller, who buys bulk hosting from a big hosting company and re-sells it. Many resellers are shoestring operations who don’t respond to any email from anyone for months. As you move up the digital food chain you’ll eventually reach a company with enough lawyers hanging around that they are appropriately respectful of a DMCA notice. They’ll let their reseller know that unless they want their entire operation frozen that they need to take care of the problem in a timely manner.
I’ve seen this process work in as short as a few minutes (email sent, and content removed by the webmaster almost immediately). I have also heard of cases where both the registrant and hosting company were internationally located and thumbed their noses at the DMCA takedown requests. Of course, if someone is stealing your english-language content, they are probably targeting US readers, with US based advertisers. Keep hitting the advertisers and they’ll have no reason to run the blog.
If this helps, leave me a comment and let me know how it works for you.