How can you prevent and detect Content theft? Plagiarism is a serious issue in the blog world and it is a prime duty for all bloggers to prevent their content from getting copied and also take the corrective action when needed. Every blogger gets annoyed when some one copies their content and ranks higher than them in the search engines.
While it is highly unlikely to stop blog scrappers and splogs from emerging there are some simple measures that a blogger can do to tackle this effectively. As we always know prevention is better than cure and hence the first step is to take preventive steps which will make it hard for the scrappers to copy your content.
How to Prevent Plagiarism
1. Copyright Banners
Let everyone know that the content on your blog is copyright protected. The best way to show it is by displaying a copyright banner at a highly visible location in your blog. Adding a copyright symbol in the blog footer is also a good practice. You can get some from Copyscape.com
2. License your content
Some bloggers will not mind if their content is used partially by third parties provided they give proper credit. Creative Commons is the most common and established method to license your content. The license should clearly state the type and this will let people know how accommodating or restrictive you are with respect to your blog content. Visit the Creative Commons licenses page and choose the right one and display it in your blog home page.
3. Protect your RSS feed
A good percentage of the blog scrappers use RSS feeds to automatically copy the content and publish it elsewhere with the help of robots. One good way to let the world know that the content came from your blog is to add a copyright message to your RSS/ATOM feed. This can be automatically done with the help of the simple feed copyright wordpress plugin. The good thing about this plugin is that it will link back to your blog.
4. Provide Partial Feeds
One of the best methods to prevent feed scrapping is by providing a partial feed and making the reader to visit your blog to read the rest of the content. While this move will annoy a good number of your subscribers and even some of them might unsubscribe but it is a matter of choice.
5. Watermark your content
It is very common to find your images being stolen and a good way to prevent this is by watermarking them. This also applies to all other content like code snippets, videos etc which you publish in your blog. Picmarkr.com is a free online service which will allow you to add custom watermarks.
6. Prevent Image Hotlinking
Hotlinking is the act of directly linking to an image in your blog. This is not only a copyright infringement but it will also use up your bandwidth. This can be avoided by creating a .htacess file which will display an alternative image when someone links directly to non-html objects on your site. Here is a nice step-by-step guide to prevent image hotlinking with .htaccess.
7. Use the CopyRight Pro Plugin
If you are very particular about people copying content from your blog directly, the best way is to prevent selecting and right clicking. With the help of the WP- CopyRight Pro plugin you can disable text selection and right clicking on your wordpress blog.
How to Detect Plagiarism
Even after taking these preventive measures, scrappers will manage to copy your content in one way or the other. It is better to stay alert and detect on a regular basis to see if some one is copying your content.
8. Google Search/Alerts
The best and easy way is to use Google Search and find replicas of your content. To automate this process you can set Google alerts for some unique terms related to your blog. A major part of this task can be automated with the help of the digital finger print wordpress plugin which will set unique finger prints at the end of each post and hence makes it easy for detection.
9. Detection Services
There are some services like CopyScape which will show copied destinations that don’t come up in Google search. Unfortunately the free version of CopyScape has very limited features. An alternative option is Tynt which is a complete copy detection and attribution service. Tynt will also aid in increasing the visibility for your content and increases your traffic and search rankings with the automatic attribution link.
How to Take Plagiarism Action
Once you find that your content has been copied the next step is to take steps to remove the copied content from the web or claim copyright infringement and make money out of it.
10. Contact the blogger/webmaster
If you see that someone is using your content without your permission or without providing credit, there is a good chance that they might have used it without knowing the implications. It is better to send a courtesy mail asking them to provide a link back to the source or remove the content.
- Look for the contact form or a contact email where you send the email.
- Type the domain name in a who is lookup tool and it will show the name of the registrar and the contact information. Sometimes this information might be protected but you will still be able to find a contact email address.
- Alternatively you can also contact the hosting company which hosts the site and file a report with them.
11. Send a Cease & Desist Message
Wikipedia says that “Cease and Desist (also called C & D) is an order or request to halt an activity, or else face legal action”
If the blogger or the webmaster fails to respond to the previous request the next step is to send a C & D. You can use free cease and desist template and draft your own copy with ease.
12. Ask for a compensation
Plagiarism and copyright infringement are illegal and if you are the creator of the original content you have all rights to ask for a monetary compensation. FairShare is a service which will help you to do this. You can also hire copyright infringement agents like CopyByte who will take all the monitoring on your behalf and also take the necessary legal action.
13. File a DMCA
The biggest trouble which a blog can get is to get removed from the index of the search engines. If the blogger fails to respond even after sending a formal request and a cease & desist message, you can go ahead and file a DMCA with Google and other search engines. Most of the search engines have an online form where you can formally submit a DMCA complaint by furnishing the necessary information to prove that your content has been copied.
If you are serious about your blog then it is necessary to take these preventive measures and do the right action when your content gets copied.
This guest article was written by Ramanujam from socialcouch.com, a grad student in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. Ramanujam is the editor of SocialCouch.com where he writes about social media and web 2.0.