5. When All Else Fails

There are times, especially with International cases, that doing all the right things simply isn’t enough. The plagiarist doesn’t respond, the host isn’t cooperative and there’s no legal leverage to make them.

These are far and away the most frustrating cases to deal with and, often times, go completely unresolved.

However, there are things that you can do, the situation isn’t hopeless and, often times at least, you can still resolve the issue to the satisfaction of everyone. It just often involves more creative thinking.

Search Engine Warfare

According to NetMarketshare, Google, Yahoo and Bing combined equal well over 90% of the world’s search engine traffic. They are all also American companies bound by the DMCA and will both accept and act on notices filed with them.

Since search engines are the lifeblood of new traffic for most Web sites, being removed from them can be catastrophic, especially for a business. However, that’s precisely within your power as a copyright holder.

It is possible to get the infringing pages removed from the search engines and, in cases where many notices have been filed, the entire site may be banned. Though Yahoo, from what I’ve been told, will not notify the infringing site, Google does and even posts copies of the DMCA notice on chillingeffects.com.

If a infringer doesn’t respond to a legal threat nor their host to a takedown notice, the plagiarist is very likely to take notice when you threaten to cut off their lifeline of new visitors. Even if the site isn’t a business, the goal is usually still to gain traffic and that’s nearly impossible when the major search engines refuse to carry you in their databases.

Furthermore, it adds teeth to any threats that you make and gives a whole new level of credibility to your standing. Many people who are willing to brush aside threats will back down immediately when real harm comes to them. To them, it’s not worth it for a piece they didn’t create.

Contact Other Copyright Holders

Very few plagiarists target just one site or one person. If your work has been stolen, most likely others have.

You can use the same search techniques to trace other works back to their original source. You can then notify the other copyright holders about the infringement and tell them what you’ve learned.

Often times, one complaint of infringement isn’t enough to get a reaction, but several is. A host that doesn’t respond to your notice is very likely to pay attention when half a dozen other angry copyright holders come knocking. It’s also possible that one of these other copyright holders have resources and contacts you don’t making their arguments much more weighty.

Long story short though, if you use the mentality of strength in numbers, you can often times simply overpower plagiarists.

Consider Legal Action

Most of the time, legal action isn’t a viable option, especially with international cases. The cost of litigating is simply too great to justify the amount of damages one can hope to claim.

However, if you have a lawyer friend who will let you use his letterhead, you will often get a better response by repeating your requests in that format. Any kind of letterhead from a law firm is definitely an attention-grabber and lets the people involved know that you are much more serious.

This is a great approach to use on unwilling hosts or even the plagiarist themselves if you have an address available (such as when they secure their own domain). Sending the letter certified mail also adds to the attention it gets. The basic idea is to find ways to ratchet up the seriousness of the issue without breaking the bank.

After all, most plagiarists and hosts ignore your letters because they don’t believe it to be a serious issue. If you let them know that it is, they usually back down quickly.

The Sad Truth

The bottom line is that a small percentage of plagiarism cases never get resolved. The cases are simply too minor, too difficult or too old to deal with effectively. Though it’s possible to crack well over 95% of all plagiarism cases one way or another, there are always a few that are going to elude a practical solution.

Short of hiring an attorney, often in a foreign nation, there’s not much that you can do sometimes.

The best thing you can do in those cases is resign yourself to fight the incidents that you can and take comfort in that, by defending your copyright so vigorously, you are removing any doubt about who the original creator is.

After all, the only way you can completely lose control of your work is to do nothing and let the plagiarists run free. If you stop most of them, even those you can’t block will never have any credibility behind their claims. Despite the losses, you preserve the value and integrity of your work.

Which, in the end, is exactly what fighting plagiarism is about. Preserving your work and your efforts.

Other Information

Here are links to the various search engines and their DMCA pages.

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