The web is the Wild West as far as copyright is concerned. The digital world may be all about sharing, but if you’ve ever involuntarily “shared” your last can of beer with your sneaky, bearded colleague, you’ll know that there is a very fine line between “sharing” and “stealing”. Yes, Nathan, there is.
TYHC are no strangers to the quick-fingered ways of the web. When you’re generating fancy pants content left, right and centre, it’s inevitable that some of your superlative stuff is going to wind up on somebody else’s blog. It’s a weird feeling. You’ve put time, heart and resources into your content. To see it pitch up in some crummy little corner of cyberspace is pretty peculiar. Particularly when the perpetrator hasn’t even tried to link back to you, ask your permission or give you any kudos whatsoever. Do they think you’re made of wordy genius?!But enough grumping and fist-shaking. There is some good news:
- You don’t need to worry about duplicate content penalties if your copy gets spread across the web. Search engines will recognise that yours is the authoritative version as it was published first.
- The fact your content got pilfered is a good sign that you’re doing something right – your creation is obviously shareable and readable. Although, that’s a little bit like getting your Fabergéegg stolen and seeing it as a compliment about your taste in valuable antiques.
- There are a few steps you can take to keep your content safe in future. Here’s a quick rundown of some handy protective measures…
SHOW OFF YOUR ©
Time to get familiar with ALT + 0169. This is your shortcut to making your copyright clear all over the web. You’ll probably already have one of these bad boys in the footer of every page on your site, but if you’re serious in your efforts to prevent plagiarism, you’ll want to display your © more prominently.
GIVE THIEVES OPTIONS
Every thief is looking for a way out, really. If you can give them a few options which let them use your copy properly, you’ll cut down on instances of pinching with no attribution. Make it easy for copy nabbers to link back to you and you’ll benefit from some healthy links and some good publicity.
Try adding a link to a generic “want to use my content” page with information about sharing your stuff at the bottom of each blog. Alternatively, consider installing a plugin like WordPress’s “Add Link to Copied Text”. This tool will add a message and the link of your choice to any text which gets copied and pasted from your site.
MAKE LIFE HARD
Of course, if you really don’t want anybody stealing your prized copy, you could consider a more serious plug in like WP-CopyProtect. This little thing will render all of the text on your website entirely uncopy-and-pasteable. Take that, copy thieves.
There is a potential problem with this – it makes it harder for the good-spirited sharers of the web too. Since a decent digital presence more or less depends on shareability, this approach takes you out of the running. The level of copy protection you use will ultimately depend on how strongly you don’t want your content stolen and how keen you are to promote yourself on the web. It’s a tightrope, really.
Keen to learn more about protecting your wonderful words online? Here are some shared (not stolen) resources which are full of further information:
- Copyscape will help you check the web for plagiarism and give you some handy tips too
- The DMCA will give you a shiny badge to dissuade potential copy pilferers
- ipWatchdog have a pretty thorough, technical guide to this stuff
Of course, if you’re looking for content even your competitors will want to steal, it’s high time you talked to us. Find out about our content creation services by exploring To Your Heart’s Content or dropping us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author: Holly Hartzenberg
Holly Hartzenberg is the co-founder of To Your Heart’s Content. A crack team of slicker-than-your-average digital copywriters knocking the socks off the standard online fare out there. When she isn’t writing powerful content for clients Holly can be found kicking things over by accident, laughing much too loudly and eating a lot of feta, sometimes all at once.