Protect yourself from Article Thieves!
You may find writing easy. You sit down every day and bash out a few great articles for your website, the odd eBook and some blog posts and the occasional guest post. But some folks find it a lot more difficult, for whatever reason. Perhaps they can’t write well, English is their second language or they simply don’t have enough time or great ideas for content, so they pay someone else to do it for them. Either way, content costs time and money.
When you have to pay a writer, you soon realize how valuable that content is. Over the months and years your website becomes valuable online real estate and not just to you. If your site attracts hundreds of readers every day, you can guarantee that someone is avidly copying it – and that’s theft.
So what can I do about it?
We’ve all learned a number of things about staying safe online. We don’t put sensitive information on insecure sites and we don’t send our credit card numbers in emails to people we don’t know. But content?
You may not think it’s such a big problem. I didn’t until I ran across some of my articles posted word for word on somebody else’s site and without any acknowledgement for me the writer or a link back to my site! It made me mad!
Copyscape is one of the most trusted services for finding out if your content has been copied. It costs just pennies each time you check the entire web to see if your work has been plagiarized. It’s also an incredibly useful tool to see if the writer you hire is not just swiping someone else’s work and charging you big bucks for a few seconds work!
If any of the major search engines such as Bing, Google and Yahoo! comes across duplicate content, they won’t know who posted it first. The result will be that both articles will be pushed down lower in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). You definitely don’t want that to happen.
You can either paste in a URL if you suspect that a site is copying your content, or you can paste in up to 2000 words from an article and Copyscape will tell you how many matches there are. It will even calculate what percentage of your work has been used. Many website owners and hired writers will simply grab an article and change the order of a few words here and there and maybe swap the paragraphs around. But if the percentage match is high enough, you’ll know what’s going on.
CopySentry goes one step further. It will actually alert you by email when your material has been copied, so you can take the appropriate action. It has a number of plans starting at a measly $4.95 a month (less than the cost of a 300-word article) and will tailor results to suit your needs.
How do I stop my Work from Being Plagiarized?
Knowing that your work is being stolen is only half the battle. Doing something about it involves a couple of steps. You can email the webmaster of the site that’s using your work and politely ask him to take it down within, say, 7 days, or you could request a link and an acknowledgement, depending on how you feel about the offending site.
If you get no satisfaction that way (some webmasters will promise to remove the copied content but won’t) then your only recourse is to file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint with the offending site’s host.
Most reputable hosting companies don’t play. I’ve heard of entire sites being taken down because of repeated offences. It’s serious stuff. All you’ll need is a pro-forma DMCA Takedown Notice, stating that you own the original content and that www.RipOffMyWriting.com has stolen your stuff. It doesn’t take long either. You can find all the information at Google.com.
There are some great little plugins designed specifically to protect all your hard work if you run a WordPress site. The Plugin ‘Blog Protector’ (I love that one) for example does not allow right clicking and copying – this plugin makes it impossible! And content thieves are lazy, very few are going to print your content and then type it out word for word, but it doesn’t mean some of it won’t be copied, they may take the time to use the best parts of your work.
The best way to protect your WordPress site is to use one of these plugins and a service like Copyscape in combination. Get the $4.95 a month option and if you don’t write more than 10 pages of content, you can rest assured your work is protected. You can do a quick check of your latest content, once a week, it only takes a couple of minutes.
Copyrighting Larger Work
If you’re in the habit of writing lots of eBooks, novels and even screenplays then you should be protecting all your work. You can protect your screenplays through the Writers Guild of America for around $20 and you can register other large pieces of work with the US Copyright Office.
Some writers simply don’t bother, and end up having to start expensive legal proceedings, which could have been avoided.
Have you found that your work was plagiarized? What steps did you take to get the offending site to take it down? We would love to hear from your experience.