Business Website Content Copyright: How to Stop Content Theft

content thief
Content theft sucks
Have you ever had your business website content stolen? I have experienced it, and to say the least, it sucks.

You spend hours of hard work creating useful content to help people find more information and gain better insight. And suddenly, someone – whether realising it or not – steal your content and claim yours as their own. Ouch.

Not stopping there, the pages containing the stolen content could actually ranking better on search engine over your own pages! When that happens, I believe you will see things differently; you will start to feel that you’ve been treated unfairly.

You will start to question why the search engines let that happen… If you ask such question, here’s one cold, hard fact – search engines are always improved continuously to combat such things, but even Google still can’t find a way to do it effectively – not even after the infamous Google Panda update.

The thing is, you need to get off your comfort zone and stop the plagiarism quickly.

I once considered that it’s an honour to have my articles copied – but not anymore. Without my permission and proper attribution, I can’t afford to have my articles plagiarised by others and benefit them ore than I do; I am the one who work hard on creating the content, not them.

How to stop content theft

So, again – if you discover your content has been plagiarised and stolen, you need to do the necessary things to get them back. Here are some tips:

1. Contact the website owner directly

Before you take any further action, you need to do persuasive action first – you do need to know the offending website owner’s view first to avoid taking action based on assumption.

When you discover your content has been copied by a website without your permission and/or proper attribution, try to contact the website owner. If the website owners are either didn’t aware about the copyright infringement or did it purposefully but without thinking about the implications, they are generally cooperative and will take off your content immediately.

Please give website owners some time to respond – even try to send the second email with “friendly warnings” – i.e. you will report to search engines, take legal action, etc. The aim here, again, is to settle the matters peacefully.

2. Use third party content take-down services

You can actually get your stolen content removed by signing up with a professional content removal service, such as DMCA. The company is usually guarantee results with money back guarantee. In DMCA case, you can access self-service content removal tool (including duplicate content scan, etc.) Alternatively, you can hire a pro to claim back your content on your behalf.

3. Report to search engines

When persuasion doesn’t work, you can go to Google Webmaster Tool (requires a Google account) and send a spam report or request for content removal from Google. In Yahoo!’s case, you can report a spam from this form or go to this Yahoo! Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy info page.

A contact of mine was having her content stolen, rewritten, and republished – and hurting her business; she reported to Google and the content thief’s site has been banned – so yes, reporting to search engines DOES work wonders.

4. Take legal action

This is the last resort, but it might be necessary because your content is an integral part of your business and potentially the plagiarism and stuff will harm your business. That will make you eligible to sue the thief.

Please note this strategy is expensive (lawyers will usually charge you on per hour basis plus any success fee, depending on your agreed terms.)

Prevention and protection are kings

Just like in any other things in life, prevention and protection are better than dealing with issues after bad things happened; it’s better safe than sorry.

I recommend you to protect your content with badges and of course, the protection systems themselves.

Badges act as “warning signs,” making content thieves to think twice before they act. I have CopyScape, DMCA, and Creative Common badges – along with copyright notice at the bottom of each page – to let people know that has some forms of protection.

And of course, I do have someone to rely on (a Lawyer) if things went bad and required me to take legal actions.

Ivan Widjaya
On business website content copyright
Image: Gizmodo