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How to Deal with Scrapers: DMCA Notification

May 30th, 2009 by

DMCA and Copyright Infringement

Nearly every blog owner has had an experience with a scraper. As you may already know, scrapers are people (or bots) that “scrape” the content from your blog for publication on their own sites. This is clearly illegal and a violation of copyright. Yes, even if you only approach your blog as a hobby, you own the copyright to everything that you write and publish. This includes the text, any pictures you use, and any videos you upload. So, what can you do about it? Will you sit idly by as other people profit from your work?

While some content should be freely shared, perhaps under a GNU or Creative Commons license, I don’t think that my articles fall under this category. My writing is my legacy and I hope that my posts are able to generate a passive income in the years to come. As such, I think it’s about time that I take a stand against the scrapers of my blog.

In the past, I’d try to contact the violating blog owner, informing them of my wishes. For some sites, this worked. For many others, my requests would either be ignored or there would be no contact information available on the site at all. In this way, it is much more effective to contact the blog’s hosting company and request that the material with your copyright be removed. This falls under what is known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the same act that removes copyright material from YouTube and other similar sites. If Paramount can do it, so can you.

First, you’ll need to find out where the site is hosted. If you received a trackback/pingback, it will usually contain hosting or IP information. Otherwise, you can try a free service like Who-Hosts.com. Second, you’ll need to send a DMCA notification letter to the hosting company. Upon receipt of this letter, the hosting company will usually remove the allegedly illegal content. If the other site owner feels that the content has been unjustly removed, they can submit a request to have it reinstated. At that point, you’d need to elevate your level of legal action. I can’t help you at that point.

I can help you with a sample DMCA notification letter though. Here’s one that I sent via email the other day and it worked like a charm.

Hello,

This letter is in notification of a DMCA violation by one of the websites hosted on your servers.

I believe, in good faith, that material posted at (violating domain name here) is in direct violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, illegally posting content that it does not own or have the right to publish. Under the penalty of perjury, I state that I, (your full name), am the copyright owner of this content.

I wish that this content be removed immediately. I do not hold (name of hosting company) legally responsible for the infringing content, but do request that the content be removed from its servers.

Original content to which I own the copyright:
(list of URLs to content on your site that was scraped/copied)

Locations of the illegally located content:
(list of URLs from the scraper’s site where your content is posted)

If there is anything else that you need, do let me know.

Signed,
(full name)
(mailing address)
(email address)
(phone number)

This sample letter (and the information in this post) is for reference only. I am not a lawyer, so if you have any specific questions, I recommend that you contact an attorney for further assistance.

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17 Responses to “How to Deal with Scrapers: DMCA Notification”

  1. dcr says:

    The DMCA is a U.S. copyright law, so if the site is hosted on servers outside the U.S., they may not be as receptive to respond. Of course, many countries (members of the Berne convention) recognize the copyright laws of other countries, so I would suspect many would still take down the infringing content. It’s those nations outside the Berne convention (such as some countries in Europe, Africa and southern Asia) that may be troublesome. And some scrapers will host their sites in such regions because of it.

  2. Ray Ebersole says:

    What about fair use? If I use a snippet of a sentence or two and credit the site, then I am within fair use. If I’m taking a paragraph then I’m scraping.

    Of course I could write my own post about the same topic after reading someone else and not credit them at all without paraphrasing or using a small quote, while giving credit.

    The whole idea of quoting and citing a source is the same as crediting sources in a written document with a footer.

    I have read both sides of this and I believe that too many people go too far in trying to protect every single word they write. If someone can’t live with a sentence quote and a trackback then they should rethink their ideas about public writing or speaking.

    I believe in a certain amount of freedom as in the examples I cited above, plus the trackback and possible exposure to new readers more valuable then asking for someone to remove a small snippet of a post. I will admit there are blogs that just use the snippet and link to trackback and that is all their blog is, but it isn’t making them anything and they are not all over the internet.

    • Michael Kwan says:

      For me, quoting a sentence or even a whole paragraph is fine, so long as proper credit is given. You can write on the same topic without a citation, but when there are entire sentences re-published verbatim (and without credit), that’s too far.

      The issue for me is when the scraper takes the entire post, publishes it as if it were their original content, and then gives no credit whatsoever.

      • dcr says:

        Ditto.

        And some magazines and newspapers–who you would think would know better–don’t seem to get it. Some not only don’t want you to quote them but also don’t want you to link to them!

      • Ray Ebersole says:

        I understand the position on an entire post. That is something I look for and have a scraper on a tech topic I wrote many years ago for AOL. I have written to him, the ISP and any person in the WHOIS with no success. Since it’s over 10 years ago and pertains to AOL I’ve given up. Plus I got no help from AOL when I asked for their assistance.

        dcr makes a good point that I’ve seen recently with magazines and newspapers taking exception to quoting and linking back. This perplexes me since they do it in the normal course of business for articles they write thinking maybe because they are “real journalist” they are exempt from the rules they want to apply to others.

  3. DeborahDera says:

    Michael – great post and something to keep in mind. I’m about to launch another website and I think this topic may become a bit more relevant..

  4. Debi Lander says:

    Michael,

    Very helpful, but look at the AdSense ads that now appear on your blog. They are promoting scapers.

  5. [...] tool, however, since that is effectively scraping the content of other sites. This could lead to copyright infringement concerns and the possibility of your site being pulled from the server [...]

  6. [...] you could use any number of MP3 music files on your computer, these run the risk of running into allegations of copyright infringement. YouTube has an AudioSwap feature that you can use after the fact, swapping out the audio track [...]

  7. [...] of you may already be familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and how it protects the copyright of digital content found online. If you chose to pull and use a [...]

  8. [...] How to Deal with Scrapers: DMCA Notification [...]

  9. Common sense says:

    Hello,
    This letter is in notification of a DMCA violation by all of the websites hosted on the internet.

    I believe, in good faith(ROFL), that material posted at (the entirety of the internet) is in direct violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, illegally posting content that it does not own or have the right to publish. Under the penalty of perjury(R O F L), I state that I, (Greetadrd), am the copyright owner of this content.

    I wish that this content be removed immediately. I hold (the entirety of the internet) legally responsible for the infringing content, but do request that the content be removed from its servers.

    Original content to which I own the copyright:
    (www.*.*)

    Locations of the illegally located content:
    (www.*.*)

    If there is anything else that you need, go **** off.

    Signed,
    (Greedtard)
    (The pits of hell)
    (666@666.com)
    (666-666-6666)

    Who did YOU copy this from?

  10. [...] property posted online. It is a United States copyright law and you are able to send your own DMCA takedown notice to the hosting provider where you find any “scraped” content. But it’s just [...]

  11. [...] How to Deal with Scrapers DMCA Notification [...]

  12. Deangelo says:

    Hi, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this article. It was practical.
    Keep on posting!

  13. Colette says:

    Why people still use to read news papers when in this technological world all is presented on web?

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