How to report plagiarism in competitor's website?

It appears that a competitor of a new website client of ours has engaged in plagiarism, taking large chunks of text from a variety of other websites (but not from my client’s). Surprisingly, this competitor’s site ranks reasonably high, displacing other sites including my client’s (for the main search phrase) to page 2. So whilst we’re doing the hard yards getting quality original content and doing the right thing, we were wondering if there was anything we should / could do regarding this competitor?

A web search has suggested the following steps:

  1. Contact competitor directly
  2. Contact web host informing them of plagiarism
  3. Google’s copyright infringement reporting tool

However, as the competitor has plagiarised from other sites, not my clients, my client isn’t able to report them. One idea is that we could go through the offending site, find the sites that they’ve copied from and contact the various other website owners to submit a copyright infringement report - but that’s going to take some time.

So a couple of questions:

  • Has anyone else had to deal with a situation like this? What did you do?
  • I’m surprised that Google hasn’t picked up this seemingly blatant copying. How was this competitor been able to get away with it? On each of their pages, they’ve taken a couple of paragraphs from one or two different websites (even copying from sources such as and other competitors’ sites) and combined them, gluing them together with one or two original sentences.

Usually we’ve never concerned ourselves with competitors of our clients as we’ve just concentrated on doing things properly and honestly with our clients, and it has always worked out well (search engine ranking wise) with each website. But in this case I surprised that one of the competitors could get away with this kind of plagiarism so I thought I’d ask.


You may not be able to submit a copyright violation complaint, but AFAIK anyone can submit a “bad search result” complaint. eg.

“while searching for _________ the results were substandard and included sites that contained copied content instead of the originator’s site”

Google is not in the business of enforcing copyright law, they are in the business of providing the best search results possible.

I don’t think you’re likely to get anywhere with this. If you were the copyright owner, or were acting on behalf of the copyright owner, there would be some clear routes you could take. But as you are just a third party, there’s not a lot you can do.

Both Google’s reporting tool, and the wording of the DMCA notice (only relevant in the US) require you to state that “I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner”. Web hosting companies might well take the same attitude. And you can’t blame them. They can’t possibly investigate every claim and come to some judgement about whether it really is an infringement.

For that matte, how do you know that your competitor is really infringing someone’s copyright? Can you be sure they don’t have permision from the rights holder? And how can you tell which copy is the infringement and which is the original?

Just about the only thing you can do is to try to contact the legitimate rights holders. But frankly I can’t see that it would be worth the effort.


As you/your client is not the copyright holder in this case, there isn’t much you can do.

Yes, you could go an contact the sites the content is copied from and let them know, but that may be somewhat of a wasted effort - There is the possibility that they have licensed the content, and if not then Google should spot the duplicate content at some point and penalise them (and possibly your other competitors).

I’d just ignore it and focus on improving your own content and marketing to make sure you list above them.

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