And so begins a post I never thought I’d write. Last week I discovered an exact replica of my blog at another site. A few of the links are changed, and the commenting system is disabled, but for the most part, there is a mirror image of this blog at another domain.
I have a Google alert set up for “Funny is Family” and for some key phrases of my most popular posts. I want to know when another page mentions me, and I’m keeping an eye out for any stolen material. I received an email last Thursday with an alert for “Funny is Family.” I clicked the unfamiliar link, saw my blog, and after a moment of confusion, I freaked out.
A half hour of head scratching and chest clutching later, I pulled myself together and reached out to some blog friends for help. As it turns out, this is a thing. Copying blogs happens, content scraping is not unusual, and while I haven’t been able to get my scraped content removed yet, I have found or been directed to various helpful resources to share with those of you who may find your blog ripped off by some jagoff.
1. Google alerts. You can’t address stolen content unless you know about it. Feel free to do an alert for other areas of interest, too, like Neil Patrick Harris or the royal baby. Whatever blows your skirt up.
2. Shutting down stolen content. Lori’s Web Design breaks down how to find out if your content has been stolen, and what to do about it.
3. How to remove content from Google. This should be the first thing you do when you are done yelling at your laptop when you find stolen content.
4. Stock DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) Cease and Desist letters. Plagiarism Today has form letters for both hosting sites and offending pages.
6. MyFreeCopyright is on my shit list. I registered with MFC a few months back, because other bloggers did, and I am both a follower as well as completely ignorant when it comes to copyright law. It used to be a legitimate company, but last year was sold to a dude in Hong Kong who, it appears, has turned the company into a scam. I suspect this is where my problems started, but I can’t be sure.
The questions I’ve been most frequently asked since I discovered this craptastic situation are, “How does this happen?” And, “What are they getting out of it?” To both of these questions I respond, “I don’t know.”
What I do know is that this whole thing has totally creeped me out. The thought of my words stolen and my kids’ pictures on some asshat’s page gives me the heebie jeebies and makes me stabby. Since this is coming right after I’ve been finding my Huffington Post piece stolen on several other sites, I am feeling pretty vulnerable. I understand that both of these situations are possibilities when it comes to the internet, but I wasn’t prepared for the one-two punch of it all happening at once.
I have a plan to attack the situation with technical support, but for now, I won’t be posting much new content. I am not abandoning my blog, but I am backing off a bit, to clean my guns and gather nunchucks for kicking some blog-stealing ass. And to talk to my lawyer.
Thank you to everyone who has voiced outrage and sympathy, and for offers of baseball bats and kicks to the teeth. A special thanks to JD Bailey from Honest Mom for giving me a course of action, for without her Olympic-style Googling skills, I would still be staring at my computer screen in shock and crying into my coffee/wine. I owe you a mouth kiss and a bottle of wine. (I’ll have to buy another bottle, because I drank all of it.)
If you’ve heard of this happening to someone else, or if it’s happened to you, I’d love to hear your stories and tips in the comments.