Arguing the importance of having high-quality content on your website or blog is pretty much pointless these days, because we all know that great content is at the core of every successful online story. That is why it’s so important to protect your content from being copied and plagiarized.
Not only will you experience a loss in revenue and traffic, but you can also be penalized by Google and other search engines, and while you are struggling to create new content, someone else is basically stealing it, working on SEO, and winding up higher in the search results than you!
Even if it’s not about the money, you still shouldn’t allow all of your hard work and effort to be stolen like that. Always keep in mind that what you’ve created online is just as much your property as any other physical item you might find on a shelf inside your house. Stealing is stealing, which is why you need to take all the necessary steps to protect your content.
To steal or not to steal – that is the question!
We’ve all come across some brilliant content that would have been a great addition to our website. The only problem is, we didn’t think of it, someone else did. However, taking that content and using it for your own website is as simple as clicking a single button, and the Internet is such a huge place, that it almost seems OK to do it. Apart from the fact that it’s not only morally wrong, although people tend to gloss over morals easily, but legally as well.
There is also the issue of search engines penalizing you for duplicate content, which is not pretty, and when that happens, it is very difficult to recover. So, stealing might be easy, but it’s definitely not the best way to go by any stretch of imagination.
How to stop content theft?
There are several things you can do in order to secure your original content. We have put together 8 most effective ways that will help you protect your website and pursue your rights as a content creator.
1. DMCA Registration
One of the most potent ways you can protect your content is to register your website with the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and feature their badge on your pages as a form of warning that might discourage potential content scrapers from stealing your content. Of course, you will still find some who might simply ignore it and take your content anyway, even after you have personally contacted them.
In such cases, the DMCA has the right to issue a legally binding notice to all the search engines and hosting companies to remove the duplicate content. In most cases, that should be more than enough to solve your problems with individuals or organizations which are incredibly persistent at copying your work without credit.
2. Add Copyright Notices and Watermarks to Your Website and Your Content
One of the reasons why your content keeps on getting stolen is because people are often unaware they are stealing. While that may seem a bit unlikely, remember that not everybody is a professional content creator, and that they just might be inexperienced, or lazy, and if they don’t see a clear warning or notice that the content is protected, they will assume it’s public domain and go ahead and take it, or download it for later use.
But, the end result is still the same, whether or not the plagiarism was inadvertent or intentional. What you can do on your end is display a clear copyright notice on your website, or on each of the pages, so that it’s perfectly clear that nobody is allowed to copy it without permission.
Another measure you can employ is to put a watermark on all your media content, which may not be 100% foolproof, but it might discourage scrapers because it takes extra effort to remove. In addition to that, you can disable text selection on your pages, which can also be circumvented, but not without some tools and effort.
3. Use a Creative Commons License
Another way of protecting your content would be to precisely define what can and what cannot be done with your content. You can do this by choosing one of six available Creative Commons licenses. In some cases, you may want to allow a portion of your content to be used, if it will bring you traffic, or if it is mentioned by an influencer.
However, even though if you are using one of the Creative Commons licenses, you should still keep a clear copyright notice on your website, because as we said, not everyone might be familiar with the way these licenses work.
4. Use Plagiarism-Checking Tools
Stealing content works both ways, so in order to make that your content is absolutely free of any unintentional plagiarism, make sure to check with some powerful tools, such as Copyscape, which is probably one of the most popular resources around, Plagium, or Plagiarisma.
You can also scan your competitors’ websites and use that as proof to go along with your DMCA complaint or any other legal process you wish to take against those which are stealing your content.
5. Set up Google Alerts
Although most people use Google Alerts as a way of notifying them about stuff they like, it can also be used as a means of protecting your content. Better yet, you can catch potential thieves as soon as they publish the content. The way you can do this is to copy portions of your text inside Google Alerts, which will then report about it if it is being used. Make sure to put the text in question under quotation marks, so that the feature can look for an exact match.
Another rule of thumb would be to put your first paragraph into Google Alerts as well, because that’s what gets copied the most, as well as some random paragraphs throughout your article. Ultimately, even if you don’t have the basis for claiming copyright infringement, you will still be aware of who is using your content and how, which is still pretty important.
6. Use a WordPress Plugin
Specifically, use a WP-CopyProtect plugin which can help you protect your text against copying. As we have pointed out before, this is not a bulletproof method, but it will discourage thieves that are too lazy to use OCR or some other method.
You can also disable right clicks to your pages and feature popup messages informing the reader that the website is protected. The greatest thing about this plugin is that it doesn’t affect your website’s SEO, because search engines and their crawlers can still read the content just fine. There are some additional settings as well, but these few should do the trick.
7. Use HTML-guard
Even if you’ve done all of the steps above, scrapers can still copy your content if they are not afraid to dig a little deeper. For instance, they can still open your website’s source code, removing all the HTML elements, and winding up with nothing but the content they want to copy. The solution would be for you to use HTML Guard, because it can help you provide an unparalleled level of protection for your text, images, links, and even your source code.
This means, not only will potential thieves be unable to right-click your page, or select the text they want, but they will also be prevented from printing the content from inside their web browser. Your HTML source code will also be encrypted, which means they might as well stop trying.
On top of all that, HTML Guard can encrypt your email addresses, as well, which means you will receive less spam inside your inbox, since spambots won’t be able to read them properly. Of course, all of the settings above can be applied selectively, if you still want portions of your website to be available for right-clicks and text selection.
8. Keep Drafts and Original Copies of Your Work which Prove Your Authorship
Saving your original drafts and early versions of your work might come in handy if you find yourself in a situation where you have to prove that you are the sole and original author of the work in question. Of course, sometimes, drafts can be faked, which is why you may want to keep screenshots and printed copies of your work, as well.
Also, if your pages contain a lot of original images, infographics, or video, make sure to keep all the source files you have used to create final versions of the content. It’s a lot of work, yes, but that’s what it takes to protect your content completely.
Unfortunately, if you are really focused on protecting your content, we are sorry to say that there is no method that can fully protect it, but all of the measures above can serve as a first layer of protection against content scrapers. Check them out and keep on producing great content!
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