Discover, Eliminate and Avoid Stolen Content

by AlanSmith on January 10, 2014






The majority of online writers, those who blog or write website content or run e-magazines, experience the upsetting experience of getting ‘robbed’; that is, their writing gets stolen by some else and gets posted somewhere on the World Wide Web. They may or may not get an attribute for the stolen content or sometimes get an attribution without permission. They may wake up one fine day and find their hard work posted on someone’s personal site, or on a blog site or a website! The article may be somewhat spun or it may be copied directly; sometimes a few modifications may be made before it is uploaded. The point is not that this kind of plagiarism causes or does not cause any harm to the original writers; but it certainly hurts their reputations, and sometimes their sites. Simply put, however, it is something which cannot be tolerated. The least thing to do is to have it removed at once and if need be punish the offenders.

stolen content

Image Source: www.imediaconnection.com

In this post we’ll see how content gets stolen; how these instances can be avoided and eliminated and what action can be taken, if necessary, against the perpetrators of this online offense.

How to Know It’s Stolen

Use Search Engine

You can find a unique phrase in your site by using a search engine. If in other websites you find phrases that exactly match the one in yours, you may catch the thief. This technique can be used the other way around too, that is, by choosing a particular phrase and embedding it in your articles, blog entries and pages.

Use Google Alerts

You can use Google Alerts to search the net and see if your content has been stolen and is being used without your consent. Google Alerts is one the easiest and finest tools to accomplish this task. Here’s how it works: Go to Google Alerts; insert a piece of your article and choose the kind of sites you would want to be searched; give your email address so Google can reach you when it comes up with results. You have the option of creating as many alerts as you wish. Then you have to regulate the settings to receive daily or weekly or ‘as it happens’ notifications from the giant search engine.

Google Alerts

Use Google visual search to look for stolen visual content. You can also use Topsy conversations from Twitter and Google+ and HubSpot Social Inbox to check out the person/s from your Contact Lists who is/are revealing your keywords/brand on Twitter.

Copyscape, Trackback and Manual Searches

Copyscape is an easy way to track copied content. You just key in your site’ s URL and Copyscape will scan the web and tell you where all your matter has been copied. Premium Copyscape costs some money but it’s well worth the cash you pay. For sites that deal with lots of content, Copyscape is particularly useful. One more good option for nabbing copycats is ‘Trackback Notifications’. Established blog platforms and sites like Drupal, WordPress give you the notifications the instant anyone links to your post. If a certain site has been consistently linking to yours, then there may be a case of copying.

copyscape

If you check the feedback provided by your website, which you normally get by email, you can inspect any site that you suspect. You can also do manual searches to discover copied content. Search for long-tail phrases, they will give you a clue to where your content has been copied.

Evaluate Incoming Links

Sometimes sites will link to the content’s source. Check all incoming links to find out whether a copyright violation has taken place.

See Log Files

You can get more information if your content has been stolen from your server log files. If you are getting too much traffic from a particular IP address or host it may signify that some content theft is taking place.

How to Remove Copied Content

After you have found out how your copy is being stolen you have to go to the next step. Webmasters usually readily comply when told that they must remove the offending content.  If they are reluctant to do so, you can simply threaten to sue and they will then quickly remove it. We’ll look at three ways in which you can seamlessly get the job done:

Find Contact Information

You will have to contact a webmaster to request him for something. An email address on a contact page or in the site’s footer is the normal place to find the information. If you still can’t locate it, try these external sources: Alexa.com, Whois.

Make Contact With Offender

Naturally you will then need to make contact with the offending party. Send them an official notice, clearly stating the details of the theft and the conditions you lay down. You may want them to: Remove the offending content immediately; pay a fee or give you credit as the content’s author. You may have other conditions which you must clearly specify.

Step Up The Heat

It may be possible that a seamless way of solving the problem may not be possible due to many reasons. For example, a webmaster may not react to your notices or may believe that action is not called for. You have to then step up the heat. Get to the web host who will get in touch with the webmaster and place the offending site offline until the problem is resolved. If even this does not settle the issue, then you have to contact the search engines, tell them officially about the theft and contact advertisers/affiliate programs that the site uses. The last resort is legal steps. Very few people go to this length, but if you do, then check out all your legal options like proof, etc. It will then also be necessary to get legal assistance.

How to Stop Content From Being Stolen

While you cannot eliminate content-stealing entirely, you can take some measures that will help to protect your content and prevent occurrences of this dishonest act.

Have a specific copyright notice in place, as well as a Terms of Use page. Tell people that they can’t use the content without taking your permission. If you are allowing some sections of your content to be used freely, then make this clear in the Terms of Use.

Set up Google Search Authorship, which will provide evidence that you are the content’s creator, in case it gets stolen. In this way, if your content does get robbed, Google will see that it’s your content that someone else is using and give you higher ranking than the thief’s domain. Look for the Google guide that tells how to take claim for the content that someone has pinched.

You can incorporate free copyright banners prominently in your content’s footer from DMCA.com and Copyscape to clearly indicate to users that your content is copyright and they can’t use it on their sites.

Create Guidelines For Content Usage

While you naturally don’t want your content to be completely stolen, you will want some of it to be shared, for this is part of your inbound marketing technique. So lay down certain ways in which your fans can share your content in a fair manner. For this you can create guidelines by using HubSpot’s Content Usage Guidelines to explain to people what and how they can use sections of your content.

Publish some paras in your RSS feed with links to the whole content, for certain content robbers use robots to lift content straight from full-text RSS feeds, and if you and your fans favor full-text RSS feeds, add a phrase like, ‘This is original content from XYZ (name of) company’, with a link to the original content. If the thief doesn’t remove the link, the link to the original content will tell Google that your content was the original source.

Place your brand logo on visual content; it may deter thieves from stealing your content, or they may give you credit when posting it online. It’s tougher to take out brand logos, compared to changing or deleting text from content.

Summing Up

Content robbery online always will be a problem. Fortunately, there are unique things you can do to avoid, track, and cope with stolen content. The above-mentioned resources and guidelines can help you protect your content from being crawled or at least make sure that you get the cash you are entitled to for all of your efforts and careful research. Have you ever had your content stolen? How did you cope with it? Even though there is no 100% efficient way to avoid individuals from taking your content, knowing what to do when your content is stolen and how to help avoid it later on will help you keep your marketing content secure and safe. What’s your take on it?



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