Posted By Debra Shiveley Welch

Recently I had the unpleasant experience of discovering that I had been plagiarized.  Through Google Alerts (, I learned that a certain “Fantoni” had placed my essay “Sometimes Life is a Metaphor” on under the parenting section.

Google Web Alert for: "Sometimes Life Is A Metaphor"
Sometimes Life is a Metaphor - articleitem
Sometimes Life is a Metaphor
. . Sometimes Life is a Metaphor. By: Fantoni. Every spring, Chris and I order butterfly caterpillars. We have an inexpensive, ...     

There it was, word for word, not a punctuation mark, not a syllable changed, and credited to – Fantoni.

I was enraged!  How dare someone steal my work!  It took me three days, but I finally was able to take action to bring the page with my stolen essay down!

I tried to write to the owner of the site to politely instruct them to either give me credit or remove the page, but emails to the webmaster of the website, which was listed in WhoIs, came back as undeliverable.  The “Contact Us” on the web site threw up a 404 error, and when leaving comments, many of my friends received syntax errors when they tried to put my name in as the true author.

My attempt at finding the web host was frustrating.  I could not find anything until a kind tech from a related site, taught me the following:

Go into and fill in the name of the web site.  Under Server Data, look at “IP Address.”  There should be a hosting site mentioned there.  If not, click on “trace route.”  Scroll down and you should find a hosting url.  In my case, it was

Once I had finally discovered the web hosting company, I contacted them and they were very cooperative.  Here is what I discovered that I needed to do to remove the page, with my essay credited to the plagiarist, from the web site.

First, read about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act here:

In 2000 a copyright law was passed to protect those of us who post our writings, pictures, etc. on the internet.  Should you find that someone has plagiarized your property, fill out a DMCA Take Down Notice form.

You can find the form here:

As you look at it, you will see that it asks you to name the copyrighted work, provide the url where the plagiarist has placed your writing, picture or trademark under their name, who the copyright belongs to and other pertinent information.  It then asks for your signature to the following:

“I hereby affirm, as the complaining party, that I believe in good faith that the use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright holder, its agent or the law.

I hereby affirm, under penalty of perjury, that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on behalf of the holder of the exclusive right that I claim to be infringed.

Fill out the form, fax it to the web host and the pertinent pages of the site will be taken down within 48 hours.

Watch the web site.  If your material comes up again, most companies will take the entire site down.  At this point, the ball is in the court of the plagiarist.  If he or she wishes, they can contact an attorney, and then it is between the two of you.

I filled out the form, faxed it to Reliable Hosting and the page was taken down within 24 hours.  I felt great satisfaction in rescuing my little essay.

If you have published on one of the writing community sites, you may be affected.

To see if you have been plagiarized, go to:

20 Comment(s):
Pam Archer said...
Debra, Thank you for your persistence in taking care of this plagerist and sharing your experience with us. I use Google Alerts, but just have my name listed. How were you alerted to the article? Did you put the title in Google Alerts?
August 23, 2009 8:27 PM
Heidi Richards Mooney said...
So good to know that there are real things we can do to protect ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing this great resource. I am glad it all worked out. Plan to mention the resource in my next ezine eMonday News. Will be sure to mention where I heard it. Warmest regards, Heidi Richards Mooney
August 22, 2009 11:39 PM
Debbie Barth said...
Way to go Debra! I like your style. I really appreciate the information that you have provided. One of the things that is ours, and ours alone, in this life is "original thought"; yes, we should protect it.
August 22, 2009 4:59 PM
Debbie Stevens said...
You know Deb, as much as this act on 'his' behalf absolutely disgusting[among other words] it was a blessing in disguise! Now the culprit has been exposed, and I for one will ALWAYS have my eyes peeled and watching that website! Thanks for giving everyone the tip off!
January 31, 2009 4:33 AM
Teri Dempski said...
Bravo! Way to get on it and have satisfaction. I know how much trauma you went through. Let this case be a warning to all who plagiarize an author's intellectual property. The point that is so upsetting to me is if you ask an author for permission to post, you will most likely get it, as long as THE TRUE AUTHOR gets the deserved credit for the work! You are an inspiration to all of us.
January 15, 2009 9:37 AM
Tawnya said...
Good for you! I'm sorry you had this experience, but I'm glad for the satisfactory resolution. As writers, we work hard to produce original work, and to have someone steal our words and thoughts and pass them off as their own is more than upsetting. It's a violation. I'm sincerely glad that you stuck to your guns and got your situation taken care of. Congratulations, and God Bless. ~Tawnya
January 12, 2009 12:15 PM
Charlotte said...
I'm sorry you had this experience. Thanks for sharing the results of all your research. I hope I never need it, but it is comforting to know I have it. Best to you,
January 11, 2009 5:48 PM
Eileen Williams said...
Thanks for sharing all of your hard work and research. As you know, I've had a similar experience (someone's posting my direct feed). It is upsetting and now I have a handle on what to do. I'm glad you had success and resolution and let's hope this NEVER happens again!
January 10, 2009 11:11 AM
Beth said...
Bravo! Well done, Debra! Congrats! I bet the editors of that website magazine is going over that author's articles to see how many more she lifted from others. I don't know if anyone recalls that New York magazine who had someone write articles with fake people and stuff like that. They changed the way they handle articles and now you get pictures of the people in the article. Congrats, on catching this thief and making the website yank the story down.
January 10, 2009 10:15 AM
Joanna Waugh said...
Wonderful article, Debra. I am sharing the link to it with all my writer/author friends.
January 10, 2009 8:50 AM
Joanne Pons said...
Hello Debra! Thanks for letting us know about your experience. I've been warned about this kind of thing myself and that's why I'm not sure I want to publish any of my own writings online. This information will be handy in the future and is very much appreciated.
January 10, 2009 7:44 AM
Darby Lohrding said...
Debra, Thanks so much for keeping us informed of all that you have encountered these past couple of days! When you first posted, I just couldn't believe it!!! So glad you found someone to help you!!! Thanks for sharing, Darby darbyscloset at yahoo dot com
January 10, 2009 12:19 AM
Dorothy said...
Omg, this just happened to me. But instead of stealing an article and crediting it to her, she stole my copy ad I use for promoting my authors and placed everything word by word (including my special fonts) on her blog announcing her tour. It was so eerily similar, you could tell she copied mine. I'll tell you what I did and I got results the very next day. You mention google alerts, right? Well that's how she found out I copied her blog post down to who it was, her book title, everything, and posted it at my blog at Book Marketing Buzz ( telling everyone why I was doing it. I don't even think it was 24 hours, the girl leaves a comment at the blog saying she was sorry, was a bit green and didn't know she couldn't do that. I really felt sorry for her because I knew she was telling the truth, but she had to learn her lesson. She told me in the comment she was taking it down (which she did immediately) so I put my blog post in draft. Have you ever seen those signs, "PLEASE PAY YOUR BILL JOHN SMITH"? Well, you can use your blog the same way. It works splendidly and thank god for google alerts.
January 9, 2009 8:21 PM
Ruth Cox said...
BRAVO Debra! Glad you were able to get your writing removed from the Fantoni collection.
January 9, 2009 6:04 PM
Susan Whitfield said...
Debra, this is important information for all writers. Thanks for sharing a bad experience. I'll read this material.
January 9, 2009 3:40 PM
Faith said...
Well done hun.
January 9, 2009 3:10 PM
Pat Montgomery said...
I am so glad you were able to take care of it!! Good for you--they didn't know who they were tangling with... I wonder how often that happens and we never know...
January 9, 2009 2:07 PM
Rebecca Thein said...
Thank you so much for your enlightening post. I am going to print it out for a future reference. You provided so much valuable information that evey writer needs to keep. I can understand your frustration and I am happy to hear you were able to find a resolution. Take Care, Rebecca
January 9, 2009 1:51 PM
Peter Maughan said...
Well, Debra, it is of course a form - some say the highest - of flattery. But I have to say that I also would have been damn mad to have my work pilfered in that way. One wonders about the character of the person who did the pilfering. Makes him or her rather pathetic, no matter what sort of - presumably non-monetary - profit is involved. But ata girl, Debar, for rounding whoever up. Best wishes - Peter (Maughan).
January 9, 2009 1:40 PM
Sandra Grabman said...
Thank you so much, Debra. That's something we all need to know. - Sandy
January 9, 2009 1:37 PM
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Debra Shivel...
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