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On-line Copyright Infringement: 4 Ways To Remove Your Stolen Work

If you're on the internet and post your articles/designs for blogs or websites. Sooner or later the work will ripped off and/or even posted on the thieves website and claiming it as their own.

There are 4 things you can do to have the work removed.

1. Send a friendly email to the site owner, requesting the stolen material be removed. Give them a few days to respond. If there is no response, go to the next step.

2. Send a Cease & Desist letter to the site owner with a deadline for removal of the copyrighted material and will be contacting their host if they don't remove the material. If there is still no response, go to the next step.

3. Send a DMCA Violation Removal Request to Google, requesting a removal of the links from the index.

4. Also send a DMCA Violation Removal Request to their host. Under DMCA, they're required to shut down the site, if you've followed the above steps and they have not responded.

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Personally, I strongly encourage the filing of the DMCA with the host before the search engine as the engines take up to two or three weeks to reply. Hosts take only a few hours typically and it removes the work from the Web.

Besides, Google makes filing with them such a pain.

However, that is just my personal take, others disagree. Best of luck with your struggles and let me know if I can help in any way!

Uhoh.. are you having copyright troubles?

Nicely explained, Calvin. The biggest thing we bloggers and/or designers need to remember is that, though we're personally attached to our work, the theft of said work, intentional or unintentional, must be handled calmly, cooly, professionally.

If you find your work on some else's site, take a walk, blow off some steam. Remember that you DO have rights and recourse. When you've cooled off, come back to your desk and follow Calvin's action list. Pursuing remedies logically is the best way to protect your work.

We redesigned our site last fall, and it was quickly picked up by a bunch of design galleries. Someone ripped it off within a matter of days, and over the last year, our design and content has been "used" to varying degrees in at least a dozen sites (that we know of).

I wrote a blog post much like Calvin's last year outlining my steps for dealing with something like this, with two small differences. First, and as Jonathan already suggested, send the DMCA takedown notice to the host before the search engine. Google will take weeks to respond, but the host will usually take the site down immediately if your infringement claim seems remotely valid. You can do the DMCA on your own without your attorney, so it won't be a big expense.

My other suggestion is this: make use of Flickr stolen design groups, PiratedSites.com, etc., to "encourage" the offending party to remove your work. I certainly don't suggest that as an initial step. It's a last resort if the thief refuses to comply or won't respond. Don't go overboard here because you don't want to seem like a big crybaby, but just know that these resources are there if and when the situation warrants such action.

I've had others grab my images before, without permission, not giving credit.
Question is whether it is worth going through the process for some of these.
One I'd sent a letter to, explaining she couldn't use my image without asking, and if she'd asked I'd have given permission if she'd give me credit. Never heard from her again, but she did remove my image.
Found a small non-profit linking directly to another image, but as they were getting almost zilch traffic, I let it be. Resisted the temptation to switch out the image, so something else would show up on their page.
Great list of steps.

I haven't had any experience in this matter recently, but years ago when I was working on anime websites, that was almost an everyday occurence. Fortunently anime websites don't usually last too long. Great article!

Had you considered people, like myself, who use the Creative Commons license instead of the traditional copyright?

I think part of being creative is taking what others have done and building upon that. It seems to me too many designers are being selfish trying to protect what little stake they have online. Maybe that's a little harsh, but I think it's true.

What do you think? Are you familiar with Creative Commons?

Excellent tip, but easy said than done. I launched my site in 2003 www.ishopathome.ca. Someone copied my entire site in 2007 www.ishopathomeusa.com Every word and design.

I asked for compensation, nada. I e-mailed the host - godaddy, they send me all kinds of papers which basically said, they are not responsible.

After being totally exhausted, i redesign my site as i could not afford to hire a lawyer.

Luckily, the copycat site don't have any rank.

I would recommend for anyone who is worried about online copyright infringement to have a look at this site:


they provide a service with which you can prove intellectual property, so if you ever find yourself in a situation like this, you can easily verify that you created the design, blog post, or whatever it may be!

Great post, Calvin! I’m an executive with PicScout and protection of creative content is at the core of what we do.

As covered in a PDN article this week- http://www.pdnpulse.com/2009/12/new-picscout-tool-connects-image-buyers-to-owners.html - to gain broader protection, as an industry, we need widespread adoption of tools that protect the rights of content creators. 

In October 2009 we launched ImageExchange. Wherever you see an image that displays an “i” icon, that means it's been fingerprinted in our system, which is used by more than 20 stock agency clients. The "i" icon displays anywhere fingerprinted images appear – meaning any web page or search engine result, including Google Images and Yahoo! Image Search. With one click, image users can instantly see owner/licensor information, and can legally buy/license the image for use. 

You can learn more about the ImageExchange, including encouraging your designer friends to download the free add-on, at http://www.picscout.com/solutions/imageexchange.html We welcome your feedback and ideas on this important topic.

BTW, PicScout stared in 2002 and we have helped the stock industry recapture more than $50 million in lost revenue in just the last three years through our ImageTracker product – we believe the ImageExchange will exponentially impact the industry as we make it easy for people to do the right thing and drive more image licenses.


I've had lot's of problem with people stealing my blog posts in the past and needless to say this really pisses me off when it happens.

This led me to write a similar post in 0ct 2008 Conbating Online Plagiarism

I basically outline the same 4 steps you have mentioned here. I find that about 95% of the time politely contacting the plagiarist seems to work, but I have successfully shut down content thief's at the web host level.

I once had a guy steal the design from my twitter background and he was bragging about it in the public timeline and I lodged a complaint with Twitter and they took off the stolen design also. That was a pretty cool win! :-)

Here is another cool trick that I have used successfully and if done properly it can be good for a few laughs as well. If they have copy and pasted you entire post, including the image sources, you can change the original image to something crazy and then the crazy image will be displaying on their blog.

I once changed a hotlinked image in a stolen post to a skull and crossbones image along with a message. "This article was stolen from DailySeotip.com, subscribe today so we can rip you off too!"

Oh the hilarity! I laughed for an entire day straight on that one! ROFL! ;-)

I had my first unpleasant experience of someone copying my blog content this year and using it on a couple of spam blogs. I filed a DMCA takedown notice with Hostgator (the same host for both me and the spammer) and the content was taken down in a matter of hours. I can highly recommend this approach where there is obvious copyright infringement.



Thank you for sharing. Continue the great work! Will subscribe to your RSS.

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  • Mayhem Studios is a small award-winning design firm located in Los Angeles, California, developing identity and brand recognition for the business sector across the nation. The Studio uses strategic and creative design with effective messages targeted to the client's specific audiences to produce identity and branded collateral pieces, annual reports, brochures, logo design, advertising and interactive web sites. Calvin Lee, Principal & Creative Director of Mayhem Studios is a graduate of Platt College and serves as a member of the Platt College Advisory Board for the Visual Communications Department, NO!SPEC Committee and on the Creative Latitude Management Team.
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