Content theft is an unfortunate reality for many professionals, including therapists. When you put effort into creating original content for your website, it can be disheartening to find that someone else has copied it. Here’s a guide on what to do if you find your content stolen, with practical steps and emotional support tips.

How to Identify Stolen Content

You might be wondering how you’d even find out that your content has been stolen. Sometimes, you discover it passively when someone else brings it to your attention. A colleague, friend, or even a client might recognize your content on another site and let you know. Other times, you might actively search for it. Here are some tools and methods to help you identify if your content has been stolen:

  • Copyscape: An online tool that checks for duplicates of your content across the web.
  • Grammarly Plagiarism Checker: Useful for identifying copied content.
  • Google Alerts: Set up alerts for unique phrases from your content.
  • Google Search: Simply search phrases from your content in quotes to find exact matches. For example, if I search “Get Your Therapist Website Written In The Easiest Way Possible” our websites is the only one that comes up.

You might also find out through word of mouth or accidental discovery. Sometimes colleagues, friends, or even clients might notify you if they recognize your content elsewhere. You could also come across your content while browsing the internet, which can be a surprising and frustrating experience.

Who Steals Copy from Therapists?

Usually, it’s other therapists who steal content. These individuals might use your copy as if it’s their own, copying your website text, blog posts, or other materials to enhance their own online presence without putting in the original effort. This can be particularly disheartening, as it often comes from peers within your own professional community.

Occasionally, theft may also happen without a therapist knowing. I have more than once seen a therapist hire someone that delivered stolen work to the therapist. So imagine hiring someone for an original logo or blog post only to later discover that it wasn’t so original after all. It does happen, and is not great.

Getting Stuff Stolen Can Activate A Lot: The Emotional Impact and How to Deal

Dealing with the emotional impact of having your content stolen can be tough. You might feel a range of emotions, including anger, frustration, betrayal, and sadness. For example, imagine discovering that a blog post you spent hours crafting has been copied by another therapist and posted on their website without any credit to you. This can activate deeper wounds, such as feelings of violation or past experiences of being taken advantage of. It’s important to recognize that these feelings are valid and make sense in such situations.

To deal with the emotional toll, it’s crucial to acknowledge your emotions. It’s normal to feel violated and upset, and allowing yourself to feel these emotions is the first step in processing them. Engaging in self-care activities can help you manage stress around the discovery and potential action you want to take. This might include talking to a friend who understands your frustration, meditating to calm your mind, or simply taking a break from work to recharge. Prioritizing your mental health is essential as you navigate the challenges of content theft.

Understanding the Reality of Online Content Theft

Content theft is a widespread issue on the internet. As long as you make your content publicly available to those who want to find you, it will also be available to the people who will steal it. There’s no way to really sugarcoat that reality. It’s an unfortunate thing.

Accepting this reality can help manage your expectations and responses. Recognizing that content theft is a common issue online can help you prepare mentally and emotionally for dealing with it. Understanding this can make it easier to respond calmly and effectively when you discover your content has been taken.

Steps to Take When Your Content is Stolen

First, Consider If Action Is For You

  • Decide on Action: Decide whether you want to take action. It’s perfectly okay to choose not to if it feels too overwhelming. Consider if it’s more supportive to your mental health to take action or if it would just lead to prolonging the stress.

Second, Contact The Infringer

  • Draft a Polite but Firm Message: Write an email or message asking them to remove your content. Provide evidence such as URLs and screenshots. (Example email below)
  • Ask for Help: If you feel too emotional to handle it yourself, ask a trusted friend or colleague to help.

Example Email

Subject: Unauthorized Use of My Copyrighted Content

Dear [Infringer’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to inform you that I have discovered that content from my website [Your Website URL] has been copied and used on your website [Infringing Website URL] without my permission. Specifically, the content in question is [describe the copied content, including URLs or specific text if possible].

As the original creator and copyright holder of this content, I must request that you remove it from your website immediately. Unauthorized use of my content infringes on my intellectual property rights, and it is important that this issue is resolved promptly.

I understand that this may have been an oversight, and I would appreciate your cooperation in rectifying this matter as soon as possible. Please confirm within [a specified time frame, e.g., 7 days] that the content has been removed.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me at [Your Email Address] or [Your Phone Number].

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Best regards,
[Your Name]
[Your Contact Information]

Third, If Needed: Involve Website Hosts

If the infringer does not take down your content, you can also involve the website host by sending them a DMCA takedown notice. Here’s how:

  1. Identify the Host: Use a tool like WHOIS lookup to find the infringing site’s host.
  2. Draft a DMCA Takedown Notice:
    • Your Contact Information: Include your name, address, phone number, and email.
    • Identification of the Copyrighted Work: Clearly identify the work you claim is being infringed.
    • Identification of the Infringing Material: Provide the URL of the infringing material.
    • Good Faith Statement: A statement that you have a good faith belief that the use is not authorized by you.
    • Accuracy Statement: A statement under penalty of perjury that the information in the notice is accurate.
    • Signature: Your electronic or physical signature.
  3. Send the DMCA Notice: Send it to the hosting provider’s designated agent. Many providers have specific instructions for this on their websites.
  4. Follow Up: If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable timeframe, follow up with the hosting provider.

Fourth, Additional Steps if Necessary

  • Legal Action: If the host doesn’t respond or the content isn’t taken down, consider contacting a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property.
  • Public Exposure: Publicly calling out the infringer on social media or professional forums should only be used as a last resort (if at all. Be very cautious with this approach).

Taking Control With Empowered Responses to Content Theft

Content theft is frustrating and unfair, but it doesn’t diminish your value and integrity. Feel your emotions and choose the right course of action for you. Continue your good work despite these challenges, as your dedication to your clients remains. Remember, you are doing great work and this won’t stop you from showing up for your clients.

By taking the right steps, you can address content theft effectively. I hope this post helps.