It’s been an age old controversy and surprisingly, it’s still remains a very big deal. People stealing each other’s website content in hopes to gain similar rankings in search engine results. If you have ever fallen victim to someone stealing your website’s content, then you know how big of a deal this really is. When someone steals content from your website, you are risking getting bad ramifications from Google. Commonly, you will fall in Google’s SERP. In rare cases, your site may be sandboxed all together. When a site is “sandboxed”, it generally means that your site has been removed form Google’s search index.
So you might be thinking, what should I do if my content is stolen? Well, you could try to file a complaint with Google in regards to stolen content but sometimes when you do this, the site that stole the content form you could out rank you in search engine results while YOU, the complainant, are penalized for duplicated content! You may be wondering how this could happen, well there’s a solid explanation. This is believed to be caused by the HiJacker tricking Google’s Panda algorithm, to make it appear that they had the content first, which results in the complaining site being penalized and because of the penalization, Google may rank the site that had stolen content higher than the complaining site.
There are a few revenues you can take to try and fix this issue; resubmitting a complaint to Google, filing DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) request, or in most unfortunate cases… Writing all new content.
There are very few preventative measures that can be taken to prevent your content from being stolen. However, you can take counter measures in case you have to file a report on duplicated content. For example, you could take screen shots of the date/timestamps of when your pages where created and/or edited. Date and timestamps are commonly generated by your Content Management System. If your website is static and you still have access to the files that where initially created for your website, your computer should have record of when that file was created and when it was last updated. However, there is no guarantee that this will help but it’s always worth a shot if you really, really love your content and would dream of parting with it; but I suggest starting fresh. Search engines love fresh content so if you have an optimistic point of view, the HiJacker just gave you an opportunity to possibly rank higher than before.
Matt Cutts did a great video in regards to this ongoing dilemma.