How to Protect your Content from Theft and Unauthorized Use.

We live in the era of SEO and digital marketing where content – whether it is in the form of text, images, or videos – is a valuable intellectual property asset that is susceptible to piracy and theft.

Protection of intellectual property from unauthorized use has always been a pertinent issue but its magnitude has grown immensely with the advent of the internet and emergence of content marketing as an industry in its own right.

According to analysts from Technavio, the content marketing industry is projected to be worth $412.88 billion by, as soon as, 2021. So, it is safe to say that content drives serious business. 

Like with any revenue-generating asset, online content is susceptible to theft and unauthorized use. For example, there is nothing stopping someone from copying your blog content and using it as a lead to drive traffic to their business landing pages.

Although search engines have algorithms to recognize and display the original version of the same article, there are many other ways to take advantage of scraped content (e.g. promoting it on social media, forums, running ads, etc).

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to prevent your content from being scraped and used without your permission. However, there are a few simple strategies that will make it more difficult to do that. In this post, we will share our top 5 strategies to protect your online content from scraping and unauthorized use.

1. Provide warnings and auto-links.

Post a clear copyright notice and terms of use on your website and make sure your policy statement is accessible from every page (e.g. via your footer or header menu). This is somewhat akin to putting up “No Trespassing” signs around your property. While it doesn’t actually eliminate the possibility of trespassing, it puts potential offenders in notice that your property is private, protected, and patrolled.

You can also insert a special ‘script’ into the HTML code of your website that will automatically generate a link to the original article whenever someone attempts to copy-paste your written content. This serves as a reminder to content scrapers to link back to your site if they intend to repost its content.

2. Set up Google Alerts.

Anyone with a free Gmail account can monitor the web for new content that contains specific phrases or keywords. Google Alerts automatically notifies you via email whenever your select terms appear on the web.

To protect your website’s content, get in the habit of establishing an alert for every important item you post. Ask Google Alerts to search for a complete, unique sentence from your text (to avoid being bombarded with false alarms) and then adjust your alert settings so you’re notified of “everything” “as it happens.” You can set up as many different searches as you’d like.

3. Use plagiarism and image checkers.

Another free tool for finding misappropriated content is Copyscape. You simply provide the URL of your written material, and Copyscape searches for any other web pages where the same content appears.

To protect your original images, try TinEye. This free “reverse image search engine” finds out where a photo came from and whether any modified or higher-resolution versions exist and then reports any instances of copies.

4. Request credit.

When you find someone using your original text or photos without giving you credit, you’ll need to decide how to respond. If you’re OK with your material being reposted as is and just want to be acknowledged for your work, contact the website’s administrator and ask for proper credit with a link back to your site. (Note: This can help spread the word about your business.) If you’re unhappy with the reposting of your content, ask the offending site’s administrator to remove your content immediately.

In either case, provide a link to your website that points to the content in question, the date you first posted it, and a clear statement that you own the material and do not want it to be copied. Many people notified in this way will comply with your request, particularly if you indicate that you will file a complaint (see #4) if your content remains up without permission.

If the offending site does not provide any contact information, enter the primary URL into a search tool like Who Is Hosting This or BetterWhoIs to find out who owns or hosts a particular domain. Note that website-hosting services tend to be more willing to remove unlawfully duplicated content than the amateur webmasters who do the copying.

5.  File a DMCA complaint.

If the offending website refuses to honor your request, you can file a DMCA complaint. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is landmark legislation that protects intellectual property online.

Once you file a complaint, the offender is supposed to honor your ownership of the material. If that doesn’t happen, responsible parties at various websites will follow their own specific protocols to deal with the offender, up to and including shutting down the offending website.

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