Your Article's Been Hijacked - What Do You Do?

Ah, another dilemma. We writers spend a great deal of time writing. We put thought and care and research into articles, books, get the idea.

Well, what do you do if you find a site is using an article you've written and published on your own sites and in the article directories, without providing your name as author?

Do you trust any information on that site? Do you wonder if all or most of the articles posted there are from other writers who are also victims of article swiping?

It's funny, I usually don't put a Google search on the titles of my articles, but this one, for whatever reason, I did. So, when Google picked it up and notified me, I checked it out. I searched the site to see if my name was pushed off to the side, stuck in a corner, written with invisible ink, or something, but NOPE - it was nowhere in sight.

Now, ordinarily, I, and I'm sure most of us writers, love when someone finds our article of value and wants to reprint it. I do this with other writers occasionally and it works out great. I provide useful content for my readers and the author of the article gets increased visibility--a win-win situation.

But, there is a rule to follow: Always give the rightful author due credit. If you don't it's plagiarism.

So, I'm asking the question: What should you do if your article is hijacked?

Karen Cioffi


Katie Hines said...

Perhaps you could contact the people who posted your article, mention you saw it and noticed they had "forgotten" to add your name to the credits, and you'd appreciate it if they would add your name as the author.

Vivian Zabel said...

I've found some of my work all over the Internet. IF they give correct credit and don't change the article, such as include strange words or odd translations, I don't mind.

What is frustrating is that most of the sites that infringe on copyright don't have any way for people to contact them.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hey, Katie and Vivian,

I actually did leave a comment stating almost exactly what you said, Katie. I'm pretty sure it'll be deleted if the site is using other writer's work as their own.

And, Vivian, I agree, that's how it should be. I actually appreciate it when bloggers use my articles on their sites as long as they're intact as you mentioned.

I figured I'd get others' input to see how most handle the situation.

Thanks for sharing!

I may be out most of the day tomorrow, Thursday, but I'll be checking in as soon as I get home!

Terri main said...

This has happened to me a number of times. I put out a daily devotion to a listserv. I would see these things appearing everywhere, often without any attribution. Sometimes the webmaster gave no indication it wasn't his/her own work.

Now,if they had asked, I would probably have given permission, because this particular type of writing I do for ministry and have no intention of selling them. However, just because I don't intend to sell my silverware, doesn't mean someone can take a spoon home with them without asking.

Unfortunately, one of the assumptions many people make is that if it is posted online, it is fair game. What I do when this happens and I find out, I write a short note to the webmaster that reads something like this:

I notice that you are using an article entitled _______ on your web site. You may not be aware of it, but that is my copyrighted work. If you wish to continue using this work please include the following as a footer to the article:

"Copyright 2010 Terri Main. Used with permission. For more great content like this visit"

Continued use without this addition is NOT authorized and is a violation of the law. I am sure that is not your intent and the failure to include attribution was just an oversight on your part.

I also include at the bottom of each devotion a copyright notice, I have noticed a decline in unauthorized use.

If you don't mind they use your work with adequate attribution, you might check into Creative Commons licensing. It's free and you can choose how much and under what conditions your work can be used. Inclusion of the CC information can reduce any misunderstandings about use.

However, it will continue to happen because most webmasters do not have any formal training in publishing and don't know what copyright is.

There do seem to be some programming tricks you can use that prevents copy and paste. Check out I think they have something like that.

Janet Ann Collins said...

I recently attended a talk about copyright infringements by someone who had experienced that. She said if you haven't registered a copyright you can't take legal action even though your work has been stolen. But most people don't realize they're stealing when they forward forwards or copy material from blogs.

Kristi's Book Nook said...

I would contact the site and ask them to give you proper credit for the article.

Anonymous said...

Wow Karen, I'm sorry that it happened. If it happened to me, I think I would do what Katie suggested.

T. Forehand said...

This information is a great reminder to google your titles, keep an eye out for others using your work without giving proper credit, and to call those that use your article improperly out. Asking for credit to given is professional. Thanks for the post.

Paul and Karen said...

I would just contact the site, tell them you are the author and ask them to credit you. There are any number of reasons why they didn't, high tech is tricky sometimes... If you don't get anywhere with that, you have to let it go. Usually sites that deliberately do things like that don't last long.

Donna McDine said...

Hi Karen:

Definitely contact the site. I'm curious how they will respond if at all.

Best wishes,

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

This was an eye-opener for me. I'd never thought of searching my titles, only my name. I've had pieces posted (with my name) and no compensation. I've written and requested the material be removed or a check sent to me. I've been ignored :-) I guess I'd better start searching my titles as well as my name. I'm sorry to hear this has happened to you Karen.

Mayra Calvani said...

I had this happened to me. I contacted the editor/blogger to please credit my article, and he did. I was firm but polite. He responded right away.

If he had not, then I would have put on my monster hat...

Karen Cioffi said...

Hey, All,

Thanks so much for the input. It seems everyone agrees to just inform the sight that they are using an article without giving the author due credit.

There's some great tips here also! Check out Terri's comment!

When I found the article, I did nicely inform the site through a comment. I took the url and will go back to see if it's still there or if my comment was deleted.

I'm not overly concerned about it - I can just imagine where all the other articles I haven't bothered putting a google alert on have ended up without my byline.

I guess it's all part of the writer's life.

I will check out the Creative Commons licensing Terri suggested.

Thanks again,

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I haven't had this happen (that I know about, at least). There seems to be no excuse for doing something like that. I hope you get some sort of satisfactory response from the 'fake' author.

dana e donovan said...

We are all behind you, Karen. If they do not remove the article or give you credit for it, we can all visit the site and leave comments about how that web master plagiarizes other author's material. maybe all the deleting of comments will wear them out and they will capitulate.

Unknown said...

I've seen my articles all over the web, but they have given me credit. I think it's a difficult thing to control.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Dana and Kathy. Thanks for the support. It's so funny, Stephen left a comment on Facebook similiar to yours Dana. It seems the men's reaction is to take action and the women's is more passive. :)

Hey, this might be a good article. I wish I had a larger sample for a survey. :)


Karen Cioffi said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I went back to the site a little while ago and my comment is still being held for moderation.

Heidiwriter said...

I found both an author interview I'd done on my blog and a book review of my book that had been apparently translated into a foreign language and then back again into English. Both were attributed, but the language was hilarious--talk about "lost in translation."

Karen Cioffi said...

That's funny, Heidi. The internet is amazing, you just never know...


Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Karen,

Never fear...I'll cover this very topic in this week's recorded teleclass for members of the Morning Nudge Club.

This is something that many, many writers worry about, Karen. And, it happens to all of us from time to time.

Karen Cioffi said...

Oh, that's great Suzanne. I love the Morning Nudge and looking forward to this teleclass!

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

I can't believe anyone would dare to use a word for word article and not give credit to the author. That's just...well I won't really say what's on my mind but you get the gist.

I hope you get the credit you deserve.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hey, Lea,

I'm sure this particular site won't give me credit, but that's life! This site has a lot of articles posted and I wouldn't be surprised if they are all hijacked!