Living in Prague as a non-Czech speaker, getting important up-to-date news can be a challenge. Over the past couple of years, Prague Morning stepped in to fill that role. Their outlet publishes news, video, and photos of current events from Prague and the Czech Republic as a whole. But it turns out, Prague Morning is run by plagiarists who have no respect for intellectual property. And much of the content shared by their tens of thousands of followers is stolen from other publications, including mine.
How the Grinch stole Christmas content
This all came to my attention when I saw their Facebook post about the Czech Christmas tradition of Mikuláš with wording that was a little too familiar and a URL that was an exact match to mine. When I clicked through to the article, I realized all of it had been lifted from my own 2017 blog post about Mikuláš. Not only that, it hadn’t even been stolen this year. It was posted in 2022 and reused this year. And it was now ranking above my own website on Google search results.
I immediately contacted them through both Twitter and Facebook only to be blocked. I raised the issue with one of the popular expat groups on Facebook (the one not run by Prague Morning), and a few angry supporters bombarded them with messages about the stolen content. Thankfully, they removed my words from their website. They subsequently replaced my article with content stolen from two other articles (1, 2) about the Czech holiday celebration.
A pattern of plagiarism
When I first discovered the stolen material on Prague Morning, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and chalked it up to some poorly compensated intern half assing their journalism. But their reaction to getting caught demonstrates that not only do they not give a single fuck about this, they do it all the time. This was confirmed by a quick Twitter search of prominent Czech publications and journalists.
I’m not sure why any of these people haven’t taken further action against Prague Morning for their brazen theft of intellectual property, but this time they messed with the wrong bitch. So the next time this scammy publication gets up to their usual dishonest practices, here’s what to do.
What to do if your content is stolen by Prague Morning (or anyone)
Czech law provides protection to authors for all written works from the moment of creation. So you do have legal standing to force a website to take down your intellectual property, particularly when it is used by a popular commercial entity to make money off clicks and advertising.
That being said, most people don’t want to spend a lot of money or time in a legal battle. So the first step is to contact the infringer directly. You can, as I did, assume that it was done in error and ask them to remove the content. If Prague Morning is the offending party, this will probably not work. Bullying them through social media did work, however. Cheers to the Prague expats who are nothing if not helpful.
What worked even better was filing a copyright report with Google to have their post removed from search results. Within a couple of hours, my request had been approved and their post removed from the first page of Google. You can file through their content dashboard. After filing a claim, you can track the status on the dashboard. Google won’t notify you otherwise.
Not only will this result in the plagiarized content being removed from search results, for serious or repeated offenses, Google may penalize the website by excluding them from search results altogether. Like if more than half your content is lifted directly from other publications:
You can also report stolen content to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Internet hosting companies probably also have an interest in removing problematic content from the internet to protect themselves from being party to a lawsuit. So you can contact the company that hosts the website in question and attempt to have the material removed.
The only caveat is that you must be the copyright holder to file a removal request – so you can’t file on anyone else’s behalf. However, if you do see content stolen from someone else, I speak on behalf of all internet content creators when I say that we would deeply appreciate being notified.
If you do find yourself wanting to explore legal measures, you can contact Integration Centre Prague (ICP) which provides free legal advice. A cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer is usually enough to scare most people into compliance.
Where else to get English news in the Czech Republic
This all highlights the need to obtain English-language news in the Czech Republic from better sources… original sources. These include:
If all else fails, you can get breaking news from Czech speaking outlets like Novinky, iDNES, Seznam Zprávy, and ČT24, and just auto-translate them. Auto-translated Czech articles are still better quality than a lot of the non-stolen content featured on Prague Morning.