Creating valuable and unique content can be hard. You never know who’s going to like what you publish on your blog or website, and you certainly can’t always be sure that everything you create is a hit. But what can be even more frustrating about creating original content is when that content is stolen from someone who didn’t have the guts or discipline to create any original content themselves.
If you find yourself in this situation, then the obvious follow-up question is this: how can you discourage websites from doing this? You might be surprised to learn that there are actually a number of ways you can go about protecting your content. Here’s a quick guide to doing just that.
Prevention: What to Do Before You Notice Anything is Stolen
In the medical world, there’s an old saying that states an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is true in the world of unique content, as well, because if you can discourage people from stealing your unique content before they do it, you’ve already done a lot to keep your content original. The only question is, how can this be done?
The first thing you’ll want to do is publish a copyright notice on your blog – something as simple as saying “Copyright 2012 Your Website” will be enough to deter some people who would otherwise want to steal your content. Or you can step it up by adding a full notice at the end of each article. If this isn’t enough for you, be sure to check out Copyscape’s “Protected by Copyscape” badges to add an additional layer of protective legitimacy.
It’s not necessarily the badges or notices themselves that deter content stealers, but the fact that you’ve demonstrated that you’re proactive in protecting your copy. So make sure that you look like someone who takes their original content seriously.
What to Do When Your Content’s Already Stolen
Of course, this isn’t an ideal world and you will sometimes be required to fend for your own content after someone steals it despite your best efforts. What do you do when you want your content taken down from another site?
The first actions you should take are simply to notify the site owner. There’s a decent chance that the owner is not aware of what happened, or simply didn’t know that they were stealing copyrighted content. Being polite can get you a long way – but be prepared to escalate things if this initial attempt doesn’t get you very far.
If your content does not come down, it’s time to get more serious and send the site owner a cease and desist letter, typically the first “legal” blow you’ll land on someone. This is a great way to demonstrate that you mean business and, again, will often result in your original content being taken down.
If that fails, you can go to the site’s host with a DMCA notice. This is usually very effective, since web hosts are legally obligated to respond and/or take action based on your notice. Consult a lawyer about taking legal action to make sure the content comes down if all else fails. After all, you created the content; you should be willing to fight for it.