I had a different topic planned for today, but I thought I'd change that and write about plagiarism after I was wasting some time yesterday and happened upon two websites that had taken extensive amounts of text from my website and copied it onto theirs. One went so far as to copy and paste my entire FAQ page, as well as most of my pricing page complete with the list of cake flavors that I offer. Slightly bizarre and stalkerish, I have to say.
In the course of discussing this on facebook and twitter, one other person found someone who had copied text from her site, and one person was shocked when I found someone who had plagiarized her site when she said that she didn't think anyone would do that. I did a quick search and in about three minutes I found someone who had taken text from her site verbatim and used it in their brochure.
It's not hard to find these plagiarists. Just go to your website, copy lines that seem like they'd be able to be used in a general way, then paste those into google. Google is your friend. That will give you the list of sites that have the same text on them. You might have to take samples from a few different places from your site, but I'll bet you'll come up with something.
The next thing to do is to write to the owner of the site and tell them to take your text down. If they don't reply, or they send you a rude email claiming that they never heard of you, send them specific examples of what you're talking about. Give it a couple of days, then move on to step number two.
That would be to find out who the Web Host for their site is. To do this, go to http://www.whoishostingthis.com/ and type in their website name. That will tell you who their web host is, and you can write to the company directly and inform them of the copyright violations and request information about what steps you need to take to have them remove the text or photos.
I've had people take text, photos, and even watermarked photos from my site (how stupid is that?) and use them on their sites. I've also had web hosts remove said sites/pages/photos when the site owner was, shall we say, non-responsive to my requests to take my material off their sites.
Here's a tip: If you like the way that I write, hire me to write copy for your site. Don't just steal mine. I'm tempted to start a "hall of shame" on my website and list every site I come across that has stolen material from my site. Now THAT would be amusing.