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Some thoughts about getting your content stolen

Game lawyer Zachary Strebeck talks about how it feels to get content stolen and what can be done about it.
 
 
My initial feeling was anger. I worked hard on that post and they simply stole it.

Recently, I posted an article about hiring an artist, both here and on Gamasutra’s community blogs. The post got a good number of comments and was featured on Gamasutra’s front page for a week or so. 

Needless to say, that was super exciting. However, I started to get notifications from the artists interviewed and pingbacks to my own site that others were copying the post and putting it up on their own sites. I checked into them, and they were all very spammy sites that thrived on copying posts mainly from Gamasutra.

My initial feeling was anger. I worked hard on that post and they simply stole it. They didn’t even have the decency to edit the first paragraph that talked about me interviewing the artists! Also, they had the gall to post a “source” link at the bottom, as if that would make taking the entire post and claiming that they wrote it (by way of an author link under the title).

I was pissed.

What to do?

Well, I went into action! Luckily, US copyright law provides a way to get these kinds of infringing posts taken down. 

However, sometimes it is difficult to track down the web host of the culprit. Many of these sites operate on hosts that are not registered with the copyright office’s DMCA registry. Others don’t bother to answer when you send them a letter.

Hitting a stone wall:

All that for one stolen post? It, sadly, isn’t worth the time.

When you don’t get the post taken down immediately, there are basically two ways to go. You can attempt to sue the web host and the infringer, or you can chalk it up to just being a part of Internet fame.

A lawsuit, particularly for someone like me who isn’t usually physically present in the US, is a huge hassle. It’s expensive and time consuming. All that for one stolen post? It, sadly, isn’t worth the time.

So I went the second route on some of the infringers. I feel bad, because their posts actually stole artwork from the artists I interviewed. I had the artists’ permission, but obviously the people who stole the posts did not.

I’m in the process of writing a new eBook about the DMCA and how to get things like this taken down (or what to do when you receive a takedown letter). In the meantime, check out my NEW eBook about Fair Use for game developers, YouTubers and other content creators. If you need assistance with someone who has stolen your content, feel free to contact an attorney.

photo credit: blondinrikard via photopin cc

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