NOTE:: The following article is a guide on how to report copyright issues, complaints, spam blogs, and other abuse issues to WordPress.com. Issues regarding sites using the self hosted version of WordPress require reporting directly to the site owner as they have nothing to do with WordPress nor WordPress.com. Please do not report issues on this blog as we cannot help you nor have any secret handshake with WordPress nor WordPress.com. Jonathan Bailey has extensive information on his site to help you with specific copyright, trademark and other legal issues, so please take advantage of his vast expertise as one of the world’s leading experts in copyright issues on the web. To report issues to WordPress.com, please use the following guide.
My name is Jonathan Bailey and I usually blog at Plagiarism Today, where I write about content theft, plagiarism and copyright issues on the Web. Lorelle has asked me to fill in while she’s away with a few posts to keep things a little bit more active. So please pardon the change in voice and fret not as Lorelle will return soon.
The good news is that WordPress.com is a relatively spam and garbage-free site. The bad news is that, even on the best blogging sites, with the most vigilant admins, sometimes spammers, scrapers and other bad guys do manage to set up shop.
It’s easy to see why spammers would want to get on WordPress.com, with a PageRank of 9, great SEO and a built-in community, it could be haven for junk content. Many do try but the admins have been surprisingly effective, for the most part, at keeping them at bay.
This isn’t to say that they are perfect. They can’t pre-screen everything that is posted to the site and some do get through. The site depends on users to report spam, copyright infringements and other forms of unwanted content so it can be cleaned up.
However, there is a correct way to file such complaints. As great as Lorelle is, she is not an official representative of Automattic, the maintainers of WordPress.com, and Matt Mullenweg, though the founder and CEO, is not the person directly responsible.
If you want a quick resolution to a WordPress.com abuse complaint, all you have to do is follow the instructions on this page. However, if you want more details or advice, read below.
As someone who has filed hundreds of copyright complaints over the years, I can say without a doubt that Automattic has been very responsive to copyright complaints. However, there is a very strict protocol that one needs to follow in order to have their complaint acted upon.
Automattic is a U.S.-based company and its servers are located with in the country. As such, it is bound by U.S. law, most notable the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This law provides a safe harbor to Web hosts, such as Automattic, to prevent them from being held liable for copyright infringement perpetrated by their users without their knowledge.
The caveat is that hosts are required to “expeditiously” remove or disable access to infringing content once they receive proper notification. The law itself lays down strict requirements for what constitutes a proper DMCA notice.
As such, though Automattic does comply with the DMCA and remove content very quickly when properly notified, it is filing the proper notification that is tricky.
If you find that a blog on WordPress.com is infringing YOUR copyright. You can file a DMCA takedown notice by using the email address at this page and using the stock DMCA notice to host available on my site.
If you properly fill out and send in a DMCA notice, most likely the content will be removed in 1-2 business days.
Spam, Spam, Spam
If you find a spam blog operating on WordPress.com but it isn’t infringing on your copyright, either posting excerpts, using gibberish or someone else’s content, you can still be able to report them to Automattic and get the blog removed if it is a violation of their terms of service.
The Spam blog reporting tool is extremely simple to use. All you have to provide is the URL of the blog, ensuring that it is a WordPress.com blog, and stating the reason that you think it is a spam blog.
If it’s scraping content from another site, link to the original site. If it is posting junk content, say so. Provide any evidence you can that the site is a spam blog and try to make it easy for the person processing the complaint to understand what the issue is. A few sentences of clarification can help speed up the process greatly.
WordPress.com has a strict policy about protecting user freedom of speech. Though Automattic may remove defamatory content, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not require them to do so.
WordPress.com also allows mature content on the site, so long as it is properly flagged and removed from public searches.
In short, unless the content is illegal or threatening, Automattic will be very hesitant to take any action. Still, if you wish to report something that you feel is a violation of the site’s terms of service, you can file your report by emailing the support@ address.
It is important to remember that this only applies to sites that are hosted on the WordPress.com servers. Just because a site users WordPress as the blogging platform does not mean that they are on the WordPress.com servers.
Millions of blogs use WordPress as the platform but are hosted on other servers and are beyond Automattic’s control. In those cases, they merely produce the software that used to make the blog work, they do not run the blog or the servers it is on. It would be like blaming Microsoft for unwanted content generated using Word.
Before filing a complaint with Automattic, make sure that WordPress.com is in the URL of the site. You can also double check the host of the site by using Who Is Hosting This?.
Though the confusions is understandable, it is important to make sure that it is a WordPress.com site, not a WordPress.org (meaning self-hosted) before reporting to Automattic.
When it comes to matters of copyright and spam, Automattic does a great job in removing the garbage when properly notified.
The difference in the time it takes to file a complaint the right way and simply shouting to the first person who will listen is negligible. However, it can be the difference between getting a swift response or no answer at all.
Any time you report abuse to a site, you should take a moment to familiarize yourself with that site’s policies and act accordingly. A few minutes of preparation and planning can literally save days in response time.
No one on the web today has as much hands-on experience with online copyright issues than Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today. His company, CopyByte offers thousands of people and companies practical copyright and plagiarism consulting around the world. Jonthan speaks at a variety of conferences, workshops, and company training programs on how to defend your intellectual property on the web and how to set up an easy-to-use method of handling copyright infringement. He offers a collection of stock letters and step-by-step guides to help you respond to copyright violations.
Personally, I’ve worked with Jonathan for many years on copyright infringement issues, promotions, education, and business strategies. This isn’t an ad but a true love for someone who has stood up against thousands of evil doers to fight for the rights of all copyright holders to understand how copyright works, how to protect your rights, and how to release them into the wild for everyone to enjoy without risk nor harm. Jonathan has a true passion to help defend the rights of others. Help him by educating your readers about how copyright works, and by being clear about your own copyright policies.