The purpose of learning is growth – for our mind to grow. It is in our mind that we conceive ideas that create wealth. It is from this source we design content for our blog, website and other online platforms.
Content is something that makes your online platforms unique and it takes a lot of time, creativity and effort to build it. It is supposed to pay great dividends.
However, some people make a living by stealing online contents for personal enrichment. Such content could include a brand or logo, eBook, artistic work, photographs, illustrations, film recordings or musical compositions, proposal and so on.
If you write or publish a blog, you’ll inevitably experience the disheartening feeling of content theft at some point in the life of your blog. It’s not fair but it’s now a part of the world of online content.
A while ago, I was inspired to document my opinion about domestic violence. I put pen on paper and wrote a story, I made this story available on various platforms on the Internet and the response was phenomenal.
Meanwhile, I had set a system in place to alert me whenever the story is being copied to another location on the Internet. To my surprise, I received an alert that the story I had made available for free was being sold at a popular book store.
I experienced a mixed feeling of accomplishment and disgust. I felt accomplished that the story was appreciated well enough to be displayed for sale, but disgusted that I wasn’t consulted and that the earnings weren’t coming to me.
If you run a blog or make inputs online, this phenomenon wouldn’t be strange. Some people make it a habit to recycle information. They are so creative with content theft that they make a huge amount of money from another person’s effort. Content theft is a real problem, the question we would address in this post is: How do you protect your content from theft?
It is instructive to state that I do not know of a 100 per cent fool-proof way to protect your content, but you can make it more difficult for content thieves to steal your work and to punish them when they do. I would share a few strategies I have found to be invaluable in the fight against content thieves.
Post a copyright notice
Posting a copyright notice on your blog is a deterrent, albeit a small one. A copyright notice lets would-be content thieves know that you understand your rights to the fruits of your labour and that you intend to protect them. Nevertheless, not everyone is going to be deterred by your copyright notice.
The following online tools can be used to discover whether your content has been stolen or not.
Google Alerts are simple e-mail alerts you can establish by notifying Google that you want to keep a tab on certain keywords or phrases. Copy a unique phrase in your blog post or the title of your post and ask Google.com/alert to send you an e-mail any time it is published elsewhere on the Web.
In the story I mentioned above, I had created a Google alert to notify me when the phrase ‘whisperers by p.positive’ was used and so I got an alert when someone tried to sell my story on the popular book store.
Use a plagiarism checker
There are several plagiarism checkers online. All of them have certain benefits for the user. Grammarly.com is a proofreading service and grammar checker, but it will also check your text against plagiarism.
Plagium.com is another one. However, unlike with Grammarly, you can check an entire URL to see if your content has been plagiarised. Both platforms have a free service level and a premium paid service for high volume users.
While Google Alerts and plagiarism checkers can tell you that someone has used your content without your permission, the next question is: What should you do If your content has been stolen?
It is not always necessary to confront a content thief. You have to determine if there’s any real damage to your content being stolen. For instance, if the goal of the content is to pass information, you have to consider the content thief an ally rather than a threat.
You need to ask yourself if the person is profiting from your content. If they are, then that’s a red flag. Next, ask if your reputation may be damaged by someone claiming such content. Furthermore, ask if it’s worth your trouble to pursue the content thief.
Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Imagine a major national daily suing an unknown blogger over the use of blog content. It may have the unexpected outcome of turning that blogger from unknown to well-known.
However, in a case where you want to pursue the content thief and have them remove your content, your first step should be to send them a friendly letter by e-mail, or by using their contact form, and asking them to remove your content. Alternatively, you can ask them to link back to your website or quote you as the source.
If that doesn’t work, then you’ll have to take other measures. You can start by finding out where their website is being hosted and contact the hosting company. Let the hosting company know that they are hosting a website that is stealing content. Interestingly, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the hosting company is obligated to prevent access to websites that have infringed on someone’s copyright.
Content theft happens every day. Be diligent in protecting your content and you will reap the benefits you deserve for a long time to come. In the coming years, a blog and other forms of digital presence would be items that would be of so much value, it would be handed down to the next generation. Protect it. I look forward to reading your questions, comments and suggestions.