Content theft is not an attractive issue. Many bloggers that are in the business for a while have already had to experience this. Sometimes, content was ever so slightly changed, sometimes it was a blunt copy. This brings up the question what can be done to prevent content theft.
First things first: You’re definitely not alone with this problem. I’ve had one of my most successful content stolen, as well as one of my themes. I was able to solve both of these issues with a couple of “friendly” words in an email.
However, you need to be aware of the harsh reality: this is the internet. Thus, there can be no absolute protection from theft of intellectual property. Nonetheless, there are a couple of things that make it more difficult for the thieves.
Preventing Content Theft
Prevention is always better than aftercare. For that reason, I’ll give you some tips that will often let you prevent someone from stealing your content.
1 – Cater for a Clear Copyright
You need to make very clear what you want to allow others to do when it comes to your texts. Every visitor has to be able to find and view your copyright terms quickly. A clear copyright could look like this:
© Copyright [your full name] and [website name], [current year]. Unauthorized use of content or parts of content is prohibited without a written permission by the author. Excerpts may be used, however, only with a clear credit to the source. This needs to be done as follows: mention of the author, website, as well as a link to the original article.
Maybe you could place the terms in the sidebar, as it is easily noticeable and accessible there. However, you could also place a link to the copyright in the footer, which redirects interested viewers to a certain page. Of course, you can also prohibit any usage, all depends on your wishes.
2 – Use a Creative Commons-License
Similar to the previous option, you get to define exactly which type of use you want to permit, and how you want to be linked back to. Creative Commons is one of the most popular providers of free licenses in multiple versions. On the organization’s website, you’ll also find a license generator, which lets you define your personal copyright license.
If you decide for one of the Creative Commons licenses, you should make it very visible as well. A link in the footer is completely sufficient. It could look like this, for example:
© Copyright [your full name] and [website name], [current year] – Link to the license
3 – Make Your RSS Feed Show Excerpts Only
Content theft often happens via RSS feed. All the thieves need to do is configure your website feed once, and they will always have your latest content on their page. Here, it can be very helpful to only show excerpts.
However, this type of prevention could come with heavy disadvantages. Many users still like to read new blog content via RSS feed. These users might be angry when all you get to offer are excerpts.
The Solution: Yoast SEO
One solution could be to use Yoast SEO. This SEO plugin lets you implement custom copyright messages into the feed. This way, your copyright would be placed under each of your thief’s articles, letting you deliver the full feed again.
4 – Use Google to Search For Your Content
Your content could already be located on other websites that you are not aware of. Content theft is rather common, so use Google and other search engines to look for your texts. Copy an excerpt of one of your articles, use it in quotes for more precision, and start a search.
5 – Protect Your Images
Without your images, your content is only worth half as much. Thus, you should protect your images from unauthorized use. A small entry in the .htaccess file makes sure that your images can not be hotlinked from your server into other blogs.
Using the image material would only be possible when the images were downloaded and implemented into the articles before.
View the code on Gist.
6 – Use Google Alerts
For this Google service, a Google account is required. In the settings, you get to pick which types of content are important to you. Once that content pops up somewhere, you’ll receive an email from Google.
7 – Use Copyscape or Plagium
Copyscape is a rather useful online tool which helps you find copies of your content very fast. The free function is generally sufficient, but there is a paid version with significantly more features.
Plagium is another tool that lets you find out if there are plagiarizations of your articles on the web.
Content Theft Detected?
If all measures to prevent theft of your intellectual property failed, you have to react. Here, the following three options remain.
1 – Message the Thief
Find the content thief’s email address and message him. Be friendly, but make it clear that you will make use of legal measures if the content is not removed immediately, and if the thief does not stop stealing.
I always had success that way, thus, further steps were not necessary.
2 – Contact Google
It is also possible to contact Google directly, requesting the removal of the duplicates from the index.
Google reacts to copyright complaints according to the USA’s copyright law (Digital Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA).
- Google: Request for the Removal of Contents
- Google: Removing Content From Google
- Google: The USA’s Copyright Law (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)
If you happen to host your blog on WordPress.com, you can contact Automattic. That’s the company behind WordPress. However, this only works with WordPress.com and not when it comes to the self-hosted version of WordPress.org.
Automattic: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice
3 – Inform the Thief’s Web Host
If sending an email to the thief did not result in a solution, all that’s left is contacting the online gangster’s host, and notifying him of his customer’s practices. This type of combat has proven itself to be effective as well. It is easy to find the host with a simple whois query of the respective domain.
Content theft will always be a topic, and there is no 100 percent safe protection from it. We can not always prevent it, but we can keep an eye on our content. We are also able to make it a little harder for the thieves, hoping that they move on to an easier victim instead.
Source: Prevent Content Theft