Excuse me but isn’t that my content?

October 31, 2013

PlagiarismThe web is a massive place and yet doing a competitor analysis can produce a nasty surprise when you come across your own carefully worded copy … on their site.

Google penalises for this, and industry leaders wouldn’t be caught dead using the paste button … yet not all possess the same ethics.

A client emailed me this week, I have copyright on my newsletter, website etc.  I also have T&C’s on my website.  What has happened is that someone has used the information that I have published for themselves.  I have read it in articles and in a column in the newspaper.  It was pretty shocking the first time, but then it happened again.

I did seek advise, but I was told it would take a lot to prove due to the fact that she is in the newspaper and I am not, and it would cost a lot which I don’t have.

They say copying is the greatest form of flattery in business, but in this case it isn’t.  I did it to show my expertise etc as you do, but the person used it to get the kudos, the contracts and business.  I am also unsure how many other people/businesses this person has done this to.”

What to do?

There are steps your can take to protect your content from being copied:

  • If you have a WordPress site install the WP-CopyProtect plugin.  This stops anyone selecting text in your blog and right clicks are disabled.
  • Google Author Markup makes it difficult for content trolls to steal the content on your site. If people see multiple search results for the same blog post on the same page of search results, but an author markup next to only one, that is the person and website that gets the credit.
  • Post a republication policy on your site, making it clear what and how much content may be copied and how it should be credited.
  • Another WordPress plugin to combat theft is WordPress SEO by Yoast which has a feature that allows you to add some code to your RSS feed so that if your post is republished elsewhere, then an automatic link will be inserted pointing back to your website.

If your content has been copied:

  • Contact the person or company and respectfully ask that either they take the copy down, or credit you with the information by including your bio with a credit.  Most of the time this will do the trick. 
  • If contact hasn’t worked your next course of action would be to bring in the legal team.  As mentioned by my client above, for most small business owners the cost of doing this is prohibitive.
  • File a DMCA request asking Google to remove the page from their index.

In this case I don’t think I’ve come up with a viable solution for my client.  Fighting plagiarism through legal channels can be an expensive exercise, too expensive for most of us.  As with most things prevention is better than cure, but when the best prevention hasn’t worked … what would you suggest?

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