by Sam Vander Wielen | Featured Contributor
Hi friends! So imagine you just spent all this time writing, re-writing, and perfecting your amazing blog post, email sequence, or freebie. You send it out into the universe and then BOOM! You’re the victim of stolen content. You find out someone else up and took your content, swaped your name with hers, and made it her own.
So what is a girl to do? Or what CAN a girl do?
Well, a lot actually! If you’ve put out your own original content and found that someone else stole it, you’re within your rights to ask them to remove it. Depending on what s/he did with your content, you might even be within your rights to seek damages (but that’s expensive!).
So first things first…
Confirm that the person took your own original content. Before you approach someone who you think may have stolen your stuff, take a moment to pause. Make sure that the content you’re talking about is actually yours to own. I had a client once ask that someone else remove something from her site, only to realize later that she had actually borrowed the content from someone else first.
You’ll also want to go ahead and make sure that the content you’re accusing the person of taking is yours, word for word. Yes, it’s still copying even if someone only changes a few words here and there. But make sure it’s pretty apparent that she’s gone ahead and taken your content verbatim.
Next, you’ll want to approach the person who took your content in a professional way. Of course you would, I’m just reminding you : ) The best way to do this is through email or good ole’ snail mail. I don’t suggest that you text, DM or otherwise message the person because if things escalate and become more serious, you’ll want a written trail of your efforts to contact her.
In your email or letter, you’ll want to let the person know that you’ve come across a post/handout/etc. that is a copy of your post/handout/etc. You’ll want to provide the date in which you published or posted your content and when you saw that she posted ‘hers’.
Kindly advise that you’d like the post or material removed from the site within a reasonable period of time (usually a small number of business days). Let her know that if your content isn’t removed by that period of time, you’ll seek further action.
This is what we refer to as a “cease and desist” notice. For small business owners, I usually recommend trying to handle this at first on your own. But depending on the circumstances, you may want to get an attorney involved from the outset.
Of course, if the person stole content that you sell or stole content and is now selling it as her own, you may want to consider contacting and hiring a local attorney to have her assist you in having the items removed and damages paid. Having a cease and desist letter or threat of legal action come from an actual attorney can make people do some amazing things. Trust me.
Even for my own business, I recently had someone illegally take a copy of one of my DIY legal templates. I wrote the person an email advising that it be removed and that they needed to purchase the legal template like the rest of my clients, and they did. Within minutes! Sometimes all it takes is speaking up for yourself.
So has this ever happened to you? What did you do about it? Did you ever follow-up and ask that it be taken down? I’m all ears for any questions you have!
Sam Vander Wielen, attorney + entrepreneur at samvanderwielen.com
Sam Vander Wielen is a corporate attorney-turned-entrepreneur and health coach from Philadelphia. Through Sam Vander Wielen LLC, she helps women confidently create businesses and content they love by protecting themselves with DIY legal templates and resources. Sam helps coaches, entrepreneurs, and creatives find out what they need to protect their businesses, when and why. When she isn’t helping boss babes build their online empires, she’s usually drinking coffee, at the beach, or watching the Bachelorette because Rachel Lindsay is the bomb.