Writing content for your blog is a lot of work. Unfortunately, there are a number of people out there that are too lazy to write the content themselves. You have probably had situations where you have spent hours writing a great piece of content, only to have it copied by another “blogger.” Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect your hard work from content thieves.
Copyright Your Blog Content
You should always copyright your blog content. I am not an attorney, but my business law classes in business school taught me that you will have an easier time protecting your content if you have protected it first. You are best off asking a professional attorney that question first, but it can’t possibly hurt to copyright your content.
Creative Commons has a number of licenses that stipulate how other sites can use your content, if you would like them to use it at all.
Copyscape allows you to search to see if your content has been used on any other site. You can run a basic search on copyscape for free. You can also install a banner on your site that tells them that your site is protected by copyscape. The problem is that most articles are stolen by content scraping bots that will never look at your site. However, you will at least discourage some hackers.
Take Action against Thieves
Sometimes a thief won’t be deterred by a copyright notice or a Copyscape banner. Make sure you are assertive about standing up for your rights. You have worked hard to write your content and you don’t want to let anyone get away with stealing it.
The first action you should take is to contact the other blogger. Tell them that they have violated the copyright agreement on your blog and they will need to take it down. You will need to use your judgment when deciding how strict you want to be with them. A polite request might work, but some bloggers will only listen to threats of litigation.
Unfortunately, most bloggers who are going to stoop to stealing others content won’t listen to a request. It is still worth a shot, but you should be ready for another course of action if needed.
Your next recourse should be to contact the blogger’s ISP or hosting company. You will need to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint with them. You should be prepared to present evidence to defend your case if necessary. Some content thieves will claim that they are the original author and that you have stolen their content. Be prepared to show Google cache documents or time-stamped data that proves you were the first to publish.
Sometimes you will find that the hosting company won’t take action. Not all hosting companies support copyright laws and some may be located in parts of the world where they feel immune to litigation. In that case, you can consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in Internet law to take your case.
Of course, this isn’t feasible for many people. It may be necessary if your site is particularly high trafficked and you are worried about losing your SERP rankings.