Content marketing is constantly becoming more popular for communication, sharing information, and internet marketing. However, plagiarism is easier than ever in the digital age.

If you have a popular, well-written post, someone might want to post your content to their page to direct more web traffic and to appear higher on search engines.

If they don’t ask you for permission to use your hard work, that’s stealing. You’ll also have to deal with web scraping, that is, when someone uses a program to automatically search, copy, and post content from RSS Feeds. It’s easy enough to add a watermark to an image, but how do you protect your writing from being stolen? And what do you do if someone actually steals it?

You have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on your side to snag thieves. Unfortunately, there isn’t that much you can do to prevent thievery before it happens. There are a few tricks you can employ – they aren’t perfect, but will help.

Creative Commons:

You can get a Creative Commons License and specify exactly how your content may be used. It won’t prevent stealing, but it will make it easier to get someone to remove your work from his or her site.

Post copyright:

Prominently place a copyright notice on your site. Either add it to the beginning or end of each post, or place it in the sidebar.

Disable features:

You can use Javascript to disable right-clicking, highlighting, and copying. There are ways to get around this, but it will make stealing more difficult and may make the thief think twice. The downside is that this may annoy your honest visitors.

Abbreviate RSS posts:

Try posting excerpts or summaries of your posts in your feed rather than the entire piece. Don’t forget a link to your full post. This will disrupt scraping, but again, it may annoy your readers.

Next, be sure to regularly check if someone is stealing your content. The good news is that you can usually take care of the problem yourself without getting a lawyer involved (although this is a valid option as a last resort).

To search:

  • Simply copy and paste portions of your text in a search engine and see what comes up.
  • Consider using the sites Copyscape, Plagium, and Google Alerts to help track down your content.

If you find stolen content:

  • First try contacting the thief through their site, tell them that they have stolen copyrighted material from your site, and demand that they remove it within 24 hours.
  • If they do not cooperate, contact the web host. Most sites like WordPress or GoDaddy will take plagiarism seriously.
  • If you cannot identify the host, try using a site like Whois.net or WhoIsHostingThis.
  • Consider contacting any companies that have put advertisements on the offending page. Nobody wants their products and services associated with thieves.
  • Finally, contact any search engines with links to the thief’s page. You can send a DMCA form to Google, Yahoo, or Bing informing them of the violation.

You have a right to choose who can use the work you make, and you deserve credit for it. Don’t let someone claim your work as their own and benefit without any effort. Take action against plagiarism (you can help by not stealing this post).