I discovered last night that, once again, someone had plagiarized my work.
This time, it was an episode of my podcast. They had taken the transcript from an episode and posted it to their blog, along with the stock photo that I had modified. They were passing it off as their own. Not only did that violate my rights but it violated the usage rights of the stock photo as well.
Other times, I have encountered people taking my designs from my Zazzle and CafePress stores and using them as their social profile pics or on their websites. Some violators even included state and county governments!
With the podcast episode, I contacted the offenders and told them to remove it or I’d get my lawyer involved. Ironically, they state on their site how they ring “fresh and unique ideas,” yet their blog is full of content copied from other sites. I got no response, but it was removed.
When people ripped off my designs to use on their social profiles or sites, I contacted them and was actually polite. Most people who aren’t in our field don’t know they can’t use things they find online as they please. I simply asked for a credit line and link to my stores. (I donate all proceeds to animal shelters and rescues, so the more awareness, the better. I was happy for them to use it with the credit line). Instead, I was met with nasty comments. (They broke the law, but I’m the jerk.)
I’m sharing these experiences to let others know that if this ever happens to you, you have rights. Your work is protected upon creation. You have the right to tell someone to take it down. You can also ask a web host (if the work in question is online) to remove it due to DMCA regulations. It doesn’t always need to involve a lawyer.
I have a colleague who hosts websites who got a notice mentioning DMCA for one of the sites he hosts, stating the site was in violation and to take it down.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.