I often google search my popular content to know if there are any plagiarized stories on the web. Until last month, there were none, but when an institution plagiarized one of my recently published Better Marketing posts, I was clueless. Previously in the Facebook group, I had heard writers talking about their content plagiarized by many external websites, but very few explained how to solve such issues.
The website had published my article with no modifications and no credit to me. What is worse, that particular pirated post had a higher rank on google search than the original content. I informed Medium support of the issue and also the Better Marketing editors. The reply I got from Medium was:
Sorry you are experiencing that.
Unfortunately, there isn’t anything Medium can do to prevent people from copy and pasting, and in essence, “stealing”, the text from the Medium post page. We are actively working to identify and stop these sites right now.
As good citizens of the internet, Medium completely honors the DMCA and all takedowns we receive. So when we are alerted to copyright infringement that occurs on Medium, we remove it until the matter can be resolved legally. We offer a public form to initiate this process.
This site that has taken your work does not appear to have that in place, nor any contact information even, and embrace anonymity above all else. That’s troubling.
So what can you do?
As the copyright owner, you need to make a claim against them for copying your work. As there is no contact information on the site, you can do a Whois lookup to find any other information on the site: https://www.whois.com and https://hostingchecker.com/
You may need to start higher up the food chain, possibly by contacting their DNS registrar, as copyright violation should be against their terms.
Again, we are working to identify and stop this behavior. However, you, as the copyright owner, have much more power than us as an interested third-party, but non-copyright holder.
I received a follow up from the editors of Better Marketing too, but there was nothing that they could do. I thought it is only one article, and I can wait for editors to take the steps. In essence, I ignored it.
I got restless when one of my friends informed me about another instance of plagiarism. The same institution had copied my other post within an hour of publishing, and there were a handful of other posts also, all from Better Marketing. I knew that if I ignored the issue, they would continue to plagiarize my work.
My friend suggested that I contact the server host, so I took multiple steps without delay. As a result, the institution removed all Better Marketing plagiarized content within twenty-four hours of my intensive complaints. I’m not sure what exactly made it happen, but it worked. Let me explain to you my steps so that you can repeat the same if you ever encounter such problems.
Online support with the host-server
There was no email address to contact the institution. So, I got the host server's name, searched them on google, browsed their site, and waited for online support. I then explained my concern to their representative through chat. Although they had asked me to email my issues, I told them I have no time to follow up on their progress report. They registered my complaints and promised to resolve them.
Complain through email
To leave no stones unturned, I also emailed the host-server. Emailing them serves as proof. They responded to my email, saying they would contact the institution as soon as possible.
Reaching the institution’s guardian through social media
The only clues I had to reach the institution were a few officers mentioned on their website. So, I contacted the head of the institution on Twitter and Linkedin. I know it was a harsh and bold step, but I believed they were also responsible if their organization is doing such illegal activities. They needed to know about the issue, and they should be the ones to make sure it wouldn’t ever happen again. I expressed my discomfort through both Linkedin posts and tweets.
I got no reply from any of the sources, but within twelve hours of taking such steps, they removed plagiarized content from their website. I don’t know which step was most successful. Ultimately, the work was done, and it was enough. All of this was thanks to my editors and friends who guided me. As Medium Staff had explained to me, the content owner has more power than interested third parties and editors, so we can remove our content if we act against plagiarism.
To know if your content is being plagiarized, first select a few lines of text from your post. Next, click on the web search or search for google. If google search shows multiple queries with exact lines, remember, it is prime time you need to act.
Sometimes you may have to file a DMCA when reaching owners personally might not be possible. Ultimately, if you ignore it, online thieves will continue to rob your content again and again. So you need to react without delay.