Stopping Copysuckers! (How to prevent plagiarism of your content)By: Guest Author
When someone steals your content it totally sucks. You juggle multiple jobs and pull all-nighters to come up with great content for your blog and some lazy, parasitic scumbag simply copy-pastes all your stuff.
Although you might not be able to stop it completely, you can prevent it to some extent. Here’s how:
Watermark All Images
Yes, watermarks really do help. When you watermark, you basically put a visible stamp on the image that shows it came from your site. Generally use a watermark that spans the image, but isn’t destructive to the image itself. There’s a possibility that your watermark may be difficult too crop out and if copied, you would easily be able to spot it.
Reject External Referrers for Images and Media
If possible, configure your blogging tool to serve a “copied content” image when called from another site. This way people can’t reuse your images and media directly on their site. Cut and paste sites often leave the content unedited, which means they are not only stealing your copy, they are also stealing your bandwidth to host the media. But making the media itself refuse to present, you have put a great big “this site is stolen” message on any site that refers back to your media files. We will have a follow up post on how to do this.
Express your thoughts on plagiarism
Of course people know it’s wrong to steal but sometimes they might be unaware of your stand on the issue. Express your views on plagiarism on your blog. Talk about how much you despise it and what kind of action you would take if your content were to be plagiarized. Even most mildly conscientious people would be deterred by that.
CopyScape is a free web service that allows you to place a banner on your template to deter any potential plagiarists. In simple English: It’s something that’s supposed to scare copy cats. You might want to place your banner in an obvious place so that your readers know that you don’t want stuff to be copied from your blog. The downside of this is that your regular readers might be a bit offended that you think they might copy content. We will have a follow up post on the steps to take to implement copyscape on your site.
Creative Commons License
This is by far the most commonly seen license on blogs. It basically adds an explicit license stating on how you want your content to be used. You get a “some rights reserved” label, and it takes less than a minute to set up. In case you ever find that your content has been plagiarized, you can get legal protection since you used a license. Even if you don’t care much for plagiarism, get a creative commons license anyway. You never know when you might need it.
When you find stolen copies of your content, send a strongly worded letter to the ISP and hosting provider. No small publisher actually owns their own IP address, rather they pay for hosting from a much larger organization. Luckily, the DMCA provisions attach liability to those larger organizations, so you don’t have to get the scum sucking maggot to take your material off his site directly. Rather you can get his hosting provider to take it down for you. And these days, reputable hosting providers generally are not taking any risks, and will often take down entire sites over a single copyright claim. Find a sample DMCA take down letter that clearly states your claim of ownership, or use the form the ISP provides, and send it out every time without fail. EACH AND EVERY time you find an illegal copy, go to the effort to send out the emails. We will have a follow up post on the hows and whys of this.
Basically, you start out in this business trusting people. If they violate your trust, you have every right to confront them and get your content off their pages. While traditionally, most cases of plagiarism have been tackled through community support, increasingly you can call their daddy (hosting providers) to spank them for you.
OK so maybe these aren’t exactly fail proof measures to stop people from stealing your content, but a little vigilance goes a long way.
There will be several upcoming posts with more details and specific instructions, so be sure to subscribe to our feed or mailing list so you don’t miss them!