Web Site Copying of Text – How To Prevent

Peter Boyd

December 6, 2010

We often have our content stolen. We even have complete designs stolen. It’s annoying. We have found several ways to combat this:

Copyscape

Copyscape is a good tool for checking on your content. Copyscape.com can monitor your web site, or you can do a manual search through their database, too. They have a monitoring program that will do this automatically for $4.95 a month. We just use their 5-cent manual search to find content that is similar.

Recommendation – Run Copyscape.com every month and send a quick notice to the infringers. If you have key content that is taken a lot, sign up for the monitoring service. If they fail to take action, go upstream and contact their web host. Send the web host a DMCA notification, and usually the offender will comply, or risk having their entire site shut down.

Technology

You can disable the actions easily using JavaScript code. This prevents users from highlighting and copying the text. However, any capable web designer can simply save the page and then copy the text on their local program.The good news is that it prevents the easy copiers – those that want to copy/paste instantly. The bad news is that it is not fool-proof; people who want your content can get it. It also prevents full use of your site.

Recommendation – Do not use, unless you don’t mind annoying your users and still having your copy/images stolen. I think this technique went out of style back in 2001.

Google Itself (and other search engines)

From time to time, we run a Google search on our key text. Same as Copyscape, but it allows us to conduct multiple searches to find infringers.

Recommendation – You should run a full search every quarter in Google of all trademarks and key copyrighted text. Copyscape will not find everything, and it does not really monitor trademarks at all. Use Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to turn up different areas of the web for your content and trademarks.

Word of Mouth & Random Findings

Surprisingly, we find infringers via word of mouth. People do leave comments or send us notes when they find infringement. We also just know our sites and text. We find them every once in awhile randomly.

Recommendation – This is not a great way to track, but it’s always good to just keep an eye out for your content. Have your staff know your web site, content, designs, images, and you will bump into pirated content more than you think.

Conclusion

You should regularly track your content. If you rank high, it will be stolen or scrapped at some point. It’s rather easy to notify infringers these days. If they host with United States companies, it’s also easy to shut them down.

Unfortunately, if they host outside of the United States, it becomes very problematic and you may not shut them down (or it’s not worth the time and effort). Sometimes, going the “shame” route, where you notify and blog about them, will help force the removal of your stolen content, but not always.

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