The internet is a nefarious place, full of plagiarists posing as opportunists and trying to muscle in on your business. Protecting your content is one of the most important things that you can do, rather, it’s one of the things that you need to do.
A creative and inventive content writer can easily take your content, switch the wording around, make it more SEO-friendly and sell it as his own.
Tactics like these hurt your website and ultimately your business because your work suddenly becomes not so original and if the writer knows much about the crawlers and algorithms (the tools search engines use to rank web pages) then his site will actually appear above yours when people look for your content on search engines!
The content that you create online is yours and if you were confident to stamp your name on it, there’s no reason anybody else should take it away from you. Think about if you were a famous author like Stephen King and somebody ripped off The Shining or if you were Stephen Colbert and another talk-show host used your entire monologue!
Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can protect yourself (and your business) from being plastered all over the internet via other sources.
Let your flag fly
Any video, infographic, or blog post that you publish should always have your watermark or name stamped to it. If you look at anything posted by a news organization you’ll see a small emblem in the bottom right corner. Lee “Q” Denat, the founder of WorldstarHipHop.com (a site that gets over 1.1 million unique visitors each day), once stated “I’m very big on watermark. It’s not a hashtag, it’s your logo….people start coming to the site organically because we watermark our stuff.”
Anything that you want to claim as yours should always have your name on it, just like your lunchbox did in the 3rd grade. You might be willing to let other sites use your videos, images or infographics but even then viewers will see your logo and be tempted to visit your site.
Register with the DMCA
The DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a law from 1998 that is intended to control access to copyrighted works. If you register with them and feature the badge on your site then you may be able to ward off some predators seeking to steal your hard work.
If people still steal your content then the DMCA has the right to contact search engines and instruct them to remove the copyrighted links. This means that only your content (rather than the stolen content) will show up when people search for sites like yours. Filing a complaint with the DMCA is a relatively easy process that is both quick and effective.
Integrate a creative copyright license
If you’re a new site or business and you’re hoping to get noticed then you definitely want to consider using a creative copyright license. There are six different kinds of creative copyright licenses. The least restrictive lets people do almost whatever they want with your work as long as they attribute the work to you. The most restrictive one only allows people to share your work if they use it in full and attribute it to you and it also prohibits commercial use.
You might want to choose something closer to the middle since having your bits of content on other sites (with the proper attribution) could lead to more hits on your own site. But you also don’t want to give too much away so that people don’t have to come to your site.
Use anti-plagiarism tools
As any college English major will tell you, there are a number of tools that can be used to catch somebody plagiarizing. Personally, I like Plagiarism Checker and I’ve used on two occasions to catch people lifting my content.
Plagiarisma is another one that’s very effective and easy to use. Copyscape allows you to simply put in your url and it will search for duplicates of your site on the web. The site also offers a banner that you can put up on your site that might help deter would-be thieves.
It’s important to use tools like these because, whether you like it or not, there’s a difference between somebody saying basically the same thing as you and somebody actually plagiarizing from you. If you do catch a word-thief then you can use what you found with these tools in your complaint to the DMCA.
Use a WordPress plugin like CopyProtect
It seems like WordPress has a Plugin for everything, and WP CopyProtect is a great tool for keeping your content safe. The plugin makes it so that those looking to lift your content cannot highlight the text and it’s built so that it won’t affect the SEO of your site (some plugins will). It’s very easy to use and not an intrusive plugin at all, so it shouldn’t cause any harm to your site. I implemented it myself on my site and I’m hardly a coder.
Protect your code
While a WordPress plugin will stop a lot of those pesky internet pirates that don’t know what they’re doing, your site is still vulnerable. A decent hacker can open up your sites source code, scrape the HTML elements and get the raw content.
HTML Guard protects just about everything on your site, including images, content, text, and the HTML code itself. Thieves won’t be able to right click on your site and they won’t even be able to print the page from inside their web browser. The software is cheap, easy to use and is compatible with a number of different languages. It also doesn’t do anything that might compromise the look of your site.
Any time you get ready to post something on the web you should always keep the original draft so that you can prove your ownership. If there’s ever a dispute then screenshots and printouts of the original work will help when you have to argue your case. You also want to keep all the files from any images, infographics or videos that you have on your site. It might seem like a lot but it’s not any different than keeping all your receipts in case of an audit.
If somebody has stolen your content then you want to act as quickly as possible to take action against them and try to get your words off their site. The first way to do this would be to contact the webmaster (you can usually find their email somewhere). A lot of the time they might not have known that your content was copyrighted or they might not have understood your creative content license.
If they don’t take the content down then you want to file a complaint with the DMCA. In my experience they are one of the fastest operating government organizations. It only takes a few days before they remove the offending sites from search engine results.
There’s no foolproof way to keep your content safe on the web, any time you put your words online, the possibility exists that somebody else may use them and not attribute you properly or even worse, claim them as their own. But that shouldn’t deter you from writing and publishing content that will get visitors to your site. Instead you should just make sure you take all the possible precautions to make sure that your content is as protected as it can possibly be.