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In a short email, they explained that it's unlikely they copied the content directly from my site and likely copied it from another site that had copied my content. They also offered to place a link back to my site.
It could be unintentional. The other website owner could have given them permission to use the content.
It's hard to know who is the copyright owner or if it is copyrighted.The site complied with DMCA takedown notice. They are protected by the "Safe Harbor" provision. You will be wasting your time and money trying to pursue this.
In cases of copyright infringment a permission from someone who is not authorized to give permission is worth: Zero
For example if you run a blog and somone posts a newspaper article in the comments section you are not liable if you take down the content immediatly after being notified. But not if you post the content yourself.
Are website owners who outsource content writing to third party professional writers not protect by the Safe Harbor provision if they comply with DMCA Takedown notice?