How to Deal with Content Theft or Plagiarism

If you produce or publish any kind of content on the web, whether it’s written, video or images, the threat of content theft and plagiarism is always real. There are a lot of dishonest people in the world who would rather piggyback off of someone else’s hard work than do it themselves. This means the costs of many types of content, especially on the internet, have gone down. Why pay for premium content, or do it yourself, when you can just take it for free from someone else?


There are ways to deal with content theft that don’t require you spend hours a day scouring the internet for stolen work. Here are a few ways you can be proactive about this problem and protect your intellectual property.


  1. Have a system in place to immediately have stolen content removed. This means you should have a DMCA takedown notice template ready to go, so all you have to do is fill in the proper information. DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted in 1996. In part, it allows content owners a way to legally request a website operator remove stolen content from their website.


Sending a DMCA takedown notice to the website owner and the website hosting company. More often than not, this will do the trick. If the stolen content is still not removed, then help from a lawyer specializing in intellectual property might be required.


  1. Set up a Google Alert. The earlier you can find out your content has been stolen, the better. Google Alerts is a great tool to find information on the web without having to constantly search for it yourself. All you have to do is set up an alert with a portion of your article/blog post in the search field. You can then set up alerts that are daily, weekly, or as-needed. Every time Google comes across a website with that section of your article in it, then you probably have a content thief.


  1. Register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. This is a bit more tedious and does cost money, but you get many more legal protections. Once your work is registered, you are automatically entitled to such legal remedies as an immediate injunction against the content thief and you can be awarded much more money should you take the infringing party to court.


  1. Copyscape. This is a very popular stolen content detection tool. You put in the URL of the page with the content you’re checking, and Copyscape will search the web for identical content. There is a premium version of Copyscape for more detailed, customized results. Also, if you’re outsourcing your content creation (ie. hiring freelance writers), you can have their work automatically checked by Copyscape as soon as they submit it to you.


  1. Prevent content theft before it happens. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It means it’s much easier to prevent something than try to repair the damage after it’s done. One way to prevent copyright theft is to simply let readers of your website know that if they want to reuse one of your articles, just ask! After all, if your content is good enough that people are stealing it, then you should capitalize on that. There are many ways you can do this, from charging a small fee to reuse your content to simply giving someone permission to use your content as long as they provide a link back to your site.


Unfortunately, content theft will always be a problem, but using the methods listed above, you can minimize the problem and deal with it more effectively. Also if you take measures to avoid it, it’s the high blood pressure solution for those who always have content theft happening.