Let me explain;
A couple of weeks ago I decided it was about time I dipped my toe into the world of article marketing. If you are not sure how this works it is a simple idea.
I write around 700 words on a subject related to my niche, at the end of my article I include a link to one of my sites. I then submit my article to as many online article directories as I can. My article is then freely available to webmasters and ezine publishers to republish as content for their readers and on their websites.
The benefit to me is backlinks to my sites resulting in targeted traffic and improved search engine rankings.
Anyway, I signed up to Ezine Articles (one of the biggest directories) and I set to work. I wrote a Twitter article which linked to my Twitmasterclass site, I wrote an article about pro-blogging that linked to my Blogging for Profit product – I’m sure you get the idea.
To drive traffic to my eBay niche product – Prints Make Profits I merged a series of short eBay business tips articles that I wrote in 2008 into one large article.
The day after submitting this article I received an email from Ezine Articles explaining that they were unable to accept my article for publication because it was the same as an existing article in their directory.
I naturally queried this and they emailed me a link to the existing article.
A mixture of shock and disbelief followed by anger came over me as I read the article – it was word for word identical to one of my short eBay articles. I followed the link to the author’s other articles and was amazed to discover four other eBay articles each one an exact copy of one of my short, eBay, article series!
I used Aweber’s subscriber search facility and sure enough the ‘author’ of the stolen articles was indeed one of my own subscribers!
I’m sure you can imagine how betrayed, cheated and mad I felt, I’d read about plagiarism of online content but it is one of those things you don’t really think about until you are the victim.
What should I do? My head was in a spin – how would I convince Ezine Articles to remove the stolen content from their directory? What if they thought I was the thief?
I needed advice so I turned to my mentor – John Thornhill, John has always been there when I’ve needed guidance or a helping hand.
John advised me to send a “cease and desist” notice by email demanding that they remove the articles within 48 hours or face legal action for breach of my copyright. (Here is a link if you ever need to put a letter like this together yourself http://www.rightsforartists.com/examcease.html)
I followed John’s advice and a few hours later I received a one line reply from the thief;
“The articles have been deleted.”
Not a word of explanation, excuse or apology!!
I spend many, many hours creating content for my blog, my newsletter and my products and it astounds me that anyone would have the nerve to copy and paste my work into an article, put their name on it as author and publish it online.
I’d really like to hear your views on this, particularly if you can offer any advice on protecting ourselves from these ‘cyber thieves’, please click the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of this post and let me know how you feel.
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The first time I found an article stolen from one of my websites, I posted a comment on the website calling them a thief and several other choice things. Next day the page was gone. I was infuriated but I have since gotten less stressed about this problem.
Twice I have reported plagarism to ezinearticles on behalf of someone else. I was researching topics and found not only articles on a website dated several years back but also references to them on other sites so I knew the old articles were legit. Then on ezine word for word, the work taken by someone else. Based on the name, I did not think it was a pen name either.
Ezinearticles removed the writer's entire account in one case. I didn't follow up on the second one.
I'm one of those strange people who has some eidetic memory capability so when I read something I often remember it in form just as someone else would remember a picture.
Anne Skinner says
Well done for fighting back and not letting the thief get away with it!
I had a narrow escape from a not-dissimilar situation a while back when (via my "day job") I commissioned a writer to produce a report for my company. I did all I could (short of hiring friend or family member) to make sure I picked a trustworthy person – went via one of the main online "work for hire" sites and checked references, etc. When the final report came back it all looked fine, but something (no idea what) rang a warning bell, so just to put my mind at ease I ran a search via copyscape. (I am sure there are other similar services.)
Turns out the scumbag had copied half the report straight from other work already online. So that search saved me a fortune in paying for and promoting a report I couldn't use (legally or morally). It was one of the best $5 I ever spent business-wise – not only for this because with the balance left on the $5 I was able to run batch searches to check content on all our company websites and discovered a few other low-lifes had been ripping content off those as well!
Though paying for constant online checking of your websites can get expensive, using a service like this costs around 5c for each individual article check or a bit more for a batch search to cover your website. When you take into account the hard work that those of us who do truly author our own work put into it, I reckon it's well worth the time and money. It is just a pity that the low-life thieves out there mean we have to!
Joelle Rene Hughes says
I guess I have a different take on this. Oh I definitely think that plagiarism and piracy is a crime and I wish it was not a part of the world we live in… But it is.
As an artist – I spend 30 – 40 hours creating a single painting knowing that when I publish it online it may very well be stolen. Even the watermarks don't protect it since anyone with Photoshop skills can remove it. After struggling with this issue – I decided to just journey forth and publish my work. Yep! Some of it will be stolen. But I would rather focus on the joy of creating it and sharing it than worry about it being pirated. It's a choice that works for me.
And I agree with some of the other responses – it is a form of honor. You write 'Great Stuff' and if I was a Pirate I would steal your work too!
Keep putting it out there. I for one am a regular visitor to your blog and greatly appreciate your efforts.
Pick Me! Pick Me! I want to steal your stuff, too!
Ever notice how no one wants to swipe crap? They only take the good stuff… beggars.
I've only just started and notice that people are stealing my posts and not responding to my requests to stop using them.
However, when I consider that 90 – 95% of my stuff is already stolen, I can't complain. 😉
Death To All Internet Pirates!
Good post mister. Thanks.
Mike Fleming says
I never even heard the word Plagiarism before I started with the Masterclass course I wrote a post on my blog about team work and then got an email about expanding my ideas! of course I Goggled the word to find out the meaning and after that yeah I was a little ticked off so I totally understand how you feel glad you got it resolved.
Have a great day!
Terry Conti says
Hi Stuart, I am so involved in my ebook and the Masterclass course that I would have never thought about such a thing. I can only imagine how you must have felt. Thanks for this post on a subject that is very important and some don't think about. Steve Wilkins is right about sharing all this information online to prevent bag heads from stealing content. Also thanks for sharing that link if something should ever happen. Hoping your articles get accepted,
Steve Wilkins says
Very sorry to hear you have been scammed in this way but I am very glad you decided to follow it up and more importantly share this information on your blog and in the forum. You see there are millions on scamsters all over the net and the only way, we as honest marketers can have any effect in stoping them is by sharing the information online.
I was very close to being scammed the other day out of one of my websites that I sell on Flippa.com. I won't go into the details but my point is that I put the scamsters name and business name into the google search engine and it bought up a list of forums where other marketers have talked about this person being a serious scamster. Now if nobody had decided to share their scam experience online then I too would have probably fallen for it as well. So the more we share, the more impact we can have on stopping the scamsters from stealing our work and more importantly our money.
Thanks for sharing Stuart and best of luck with your articles!
Sue Schlaiffer says
I was shocked to read about how one of your own subscribers could steal from you in this way, and I hope I never have to deal with such a person myself. We have always been taught to re-write something in our own words and also to add our own spin on it too. The only time I find this harder to do is when I am writing step by step instructions on how to do a particular thing, and then there are only so many different words you can use to say the same thing. But thank you for drawing this to my attention and I am so glad you got this terrible situation resolved.
Barry, Rob, Martina and John
Thanks for your constructive comments and for being so positive and complimentary!
You've all helped to turn a distressing episode into a very positive one!
John McNally says
I think my first reaction would be like yours Stuart, anger and a feeling of betrayal that it was one of my subscribers: – very cheeky.
However I agree with the comments by Lynn & Keith. It's a compliment to you, that your content is good enough to steal. The thieves will never prosper, but you will.
Martina Roters says
this is really a nightmare. You can protect yourself against such perpetrators by registering your work online – there are companies that offer such services. However, this is no affordable solution. And I get so ANGRY at the thought that the bad people get the good people to pay for protection (it remembers me of the mafia!)
There is an old trick however how you can prove that you have owned a certain piece of copy at a certain time. You put it into an envelope and send it to your own address. And then you keep the envelope with the post stamp unopened until you need it in court.
This may be a solution for bigger projects, however not for a lot of articles to publish…
Rob Corrigan says
Hi Stuart what a shock! I had a similar experience some months ago, I was e-mailed a clip from a video series I created on using Amazon which is now freely available on the web, my friend had found it. I have no idea where this had come from. The gauling thing is that this was part of a paid product of mine.
Barry Wells says
Hi Stuart, Angry? cor thats a mild word for how i would feel.
You were lucky that ezine didn't block your account as they could view it that you stole the work, and that's all you need.
I'm not suprised that you didn't get an apology. The person obviously isn't capable of putting an intelligent sentence together, hence them stealing your work.
I agree with Keith, it is a compliment to your work. I know that doesn't make it right Stuart, nothing can make it right. But at least you know your work is held that highly that some ####er wants to put their name to it.
BIG UP John Thornhill the only mentor that i will recommend. Without his help i think you may have had a sore forehead from banging it against the wall.
Stuart could you email me the persons email and name please. I'll check my list and if they're on it i'll block them from all future correspondence.
I hope that ezine now allow you to add the articles as yours. I'm sure that if you point out the offender has now removed then after receiving your email they will block his account, especially if you include both your email to the offender and the reply you received.
Best of luck mate,
PS please send their details and i will block them if they're on my list. Maybe we could all do this and really teach them a lesson.
Keith Alston says
Well handled Stuart, There is as much scum out there as there are decent marketers and this sort of thing is always going to happen.
I've never experienced anything like this which perturbs me a little as I'm guessing my stuff is not good enough to hijack. So in an ironic way..congratulations on producing quality material that is good enough to pilfer.
Keep up the great work mate!
It amazes me what the scammers get up to, copying your whole site – unbelievable!
The ironic thing is that if these people focused their skills in the right direction they’d probably be very successful!
Thanks for pointing out the positive! They do say ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’,
I feel better already!!
Thanks for your comments,
Susan Whitehead says
I've had to face internet piracy several times, unfortunately. Once, someone took the exact copy of my website and pasted it onto their own as an affiliate. I have no problem with affiliates using maybe some bullet points or such, but to take my entire sales letter, including my photo and signature and act as if it was their own…so frustrating. And this person NEVER replied and the hosting company NEVER replied…so I removed them as an affiliate (was finally able to figure out who it was).
Then, someone else was giving away some of my PAID eBooks on their website. She quickly removed them, but it was so frustrating to see something I had worked SO hard on being given away.
Some people just don't have any idea…
I've reported the situation to Ezine Articles but haven't received a reply yet.
You are so right, the content in question might not be anything special but it is MINE!
I guess it could have been a lot worse, although it does make me wonder whether my copyright has been breached elsewhere without my knowledge.
Great point, Lynn, long term success can't be built on somebody else's hard work.
Thanks to you all for your input,
Lynn N says
I too have read about this happening on several occasions and Mandy (above) is quite right, some people have no morals.
I can understand your anger, but is this thief worth getting worked up about? They are obviously too lazy to write their own content, and if they think it's okay to steal, then they're going to have no qualms about ripping off their customers.
This type of person will never succeed in business, online or otherwise. They're destined to fail, and that's exactly what they deserve.
Keep up the good work 🙂
Mandy Allen says
Hi Stuart, sadly I have read of this time and again on the IM forums I belong to. I have to say you were lucky the person deleted them and let you know. It must have worried them enough being threatened with legal action. Most of the threads I read have huge difficulties
getting their work back in their own hands, many being accused themselves of the theft even though they have proof, as you did, that the work is their own. There are some people who have no morals…
Enjoy the journey.
I can only imagine how angry I would be, Stuart, and empathize on that basis.
My son worked for ASCAP at one time, and his experiences broadened my perspective on copyright infringement.
It is no different than copying a Picasso and claiming it to be one's own, or publishing a work by Beethoven and saying that I composed it. It is not relative to quality or quantity, but to OWNERSHIP!
It is uplifting that you achieved the results you did. Thank you for sharing the information from R.I.G.H.T.S.
Nasty! Thank goodness you found a way to get it sorted – I trust Ezine have now accepted your articles. For someone new to IM without people to talk to, that could have really stopped them in their tracks.
Thank you for sharing this and letting us know how you dealt with it. My main skill is content writing, and you have described my worst nightmare. I guess I am thinking of getting content onto an article site first, because then there is a third party (the website owners) involved who can verify the date the copy went on.
Thanks for your kind words, Anne
You've hit on a very good point, if you break the law in the offline world you face real consequences, the online world is different, there is no 'internet police force' the person who stole my work knows that I can't really do anything about it, they are free to carry on unhindered.
I guess the internet is just too big to police.
Anne Martin says
"Angry" is a mild word for how you must have felt to see your hard work being used by someone else, let alone one of your subscribers! I don't know which would have angered you more, the blatent use of your work by someone you should have been able to trust or a total stranger. It's difficult enough to come up with original content, then to see someone else take the credit for it. If my son had done this in school, he would have failed whatever class he was in. He knows what the consequences would be. This individual, who stole your work, will not have to face any real consequences. Who knows how many others he or she has done this to and gotten away with it. I'm knew to all this, but there should be a way to see if you can follow your own work to see if it has been plagerized. I don't know if that is even possible. I appreciate the work you do and look forward to more of same.