Fighting Copyright Infringement: Tools to Protect Your Website Content

One of the most important aspects of your online business is the content you develop for your website. Discover the top tools to use to protect that online content.

Whether you're writing product descriptions or blog posts, content plays an important role in helping to increase visitor traffic and convert browsers to buyers. Content is also recognized as a critical part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for your website. Search engines, particularly Google, have placed increased importance on having well-written, original content on your website, using it as part of the equation to determine how well your site ranks in search engine results.

The message of the importance of content has been received by businesses of all types. According to research from e-Strategy Trends, 70 percent of both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) companies plan to increase the amount of content developed over previous years, and 10 percent are allocating more money in their budgets for the development of content.

The type of content that you are creating includes not only website copy or text-based articles but also original images, photos, and videos. Using a mix of all these types of content on your website is important. The increased relevance on having quality website content in any form, not only for SEO purposes but also as part of the online marketing and sales process has put pressure on everyone to become content creators. But not everyone develops content from scratch, so to speak.

Unfortunately, plenty of online businesses are more than willing to use your website content as their own. Sometimes, this is a genuine mistake. For example, a blogger may use or reference a small portion of your website or blog content as part of an article (which is actually a good thing), but the blogger either forgets to or doesn't know how to properly give credit to your website (which is not so good). In many other cases, however, bloggers and other writers or owners of websites knowingly "scrape" content, that is, they steal your website content and use it as their own.

To help identify and protect your original content, including text, images, videos, and audio, you need to copyright your work. Whether you have officially registered your content with the U.S. Copyright Office or your website content is protected as a whole under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you own the rights to the content and can pursue and stop anyone who tries to use that content as his or her own, whether on purpose or by accident (called copyright infringement).

The downside of protecting your website content from copyright infringement is that the burden falls to you. Unless someone alerts you when spotting stolen content or you stumble upon your stolen content, you might not ever know that someone has stolen your content. Fortunately, many reliable and inexpensive (or free) tools can help you identify when and where your website copy has been illegally used.

Here are some of the top tools to protect your content:

  • Plagspotter: Check for duplicate content across your entire website or by individual pages. Plagspotter is a paid service.

  • Plagium: Enter up to 25,000 characters to check for content duplication across the Internet, news outlets, and social media sites. Options include checking by URL or submitting a specific file. The service is free, but donations are requested.

  • Copygator: Monitor your RSS feeds and see where content from the feeds have been published. Copygator is a free service.

  • Copyscape: Enter your URL, or website address, and Copyscape scans the web for duplicate copy, for free. For more advanced detection, use the paid products, Copyscape Premium or Copysentry (for ongoing monitoring of duplicate content).

  • eZWatermark Lite: Add watermarks to your photos for protection against unauthorized use of your images. Both free and paid versions are available.

  • iVideoMark: Place watermark protection on your videos. The app (available for download for $3) also lets you add text and logos to your videos.

If you discover that your content has been stolen, you may also turn to WordPress and Google for assistance. When the copyright infringement occurs on a website hosted by WordPress, you can request to have the copyrighted content removed or taken down (by WordPress) under the DMCA Notice. Google has a similar process for petitioning to have copyrighted content removed from an offending website. You can start the process by visiting Google's support page titled Removing Content from Google.

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