It’s sad, but true: Plagiarism is an inevitable reality of the internet. Whether you are publishing an article, uploading photos, presentations or even videos, when something is up online, you can never stop it from being copied and redistributed. On a worse side, if your online business relies on search traffic, then this can negatively impact your Google search rankings! The only way you can ensure your creative pieces from not being copied is perhaps to limit its availability on the internet. But remember – it’s not always practical, given that you have to share your work online when you wish to reach a wider audience! In this post, I’ll be sharing 5 ways to dodge plagiarism bids from the offenders.
1. Disable copy-paste & add watermarks (if applicable)
If you regularly publish blog posts, disabling text selection on your webpage is the first line of defense against plagiarism. If you’re on WordPress, you can easily disable text selection & even right clicks on your webpage by activating this free plugin called – WP Content Copy Protection.
If you’re sharing some other forms of content like photos, presentations and videos, then it goes without saying – adding watermarks is imperative! It at-least helps deter the offenders.
2. Add a copyright notice on your website
Another good way to keep offenders at a distance is to display that the entire content on your website is copyrighted, and that it should not be copied/re-distributed in any form without seeking your consent. You can do this either by writing a clear message in some prominent section of your website, such as footer (check mine) OR you could also display this visually in form of banners. The US Copyright Office recommends that your copyright notice should consist of 3 elements that appear in a continuous line –
Once you’ve created something, you are naturally the copyright owner of that unique content/art-work. It is your moral duty to showcase that you are the copyright owner of the material & that the content should not be copied without citing your original work or seeking your prior approval.
3. Register with US electronic Copyright Office
If you are serious about copyrights, then I would recommend getting your creativity registered with the US electronic Copyright Office. On the registration portal, select the appropriate category your work falls into:
- Literary work (poetry, fiction, non-fiction)
- Performing Arts (music, sound recordings, scripts)
- Visual arts (artworks, illustrations)
- Other Digital Content (programs, database, apps, blogs, websites)
- Motion Pictures (movies/TV shows/video games/animations)
There are two modes to get your work registered: Offline (paper forms) & Online. Offline registrations cost $85, and applications are processed in 8 to 10 months, while online registrations cost $55, with a processing time of 6 to 8 months only.
4. Setup Google Alerts
Another proactive approach to foil plagiarism bids by content scrapers is to setup Google Alerts to periodically monitor duplicate content. When you’ve published a new post, select a few lines of a paragraph and setup Google Alerts to get periodically notified whenever the exact copy of your original article is published on other websites.
What’s next? You can follow the below mentioned steps to get the unauthorized copy of your creations removed from the web:
- You would not want to get hit by Google’s duplicate content penalty. Therefore, first and foremost, file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint with Google, asking to pull down the web pages from its search results.
- Next, contact the website owner & request him politely to take down the content and that you are the copyright owner of the original creation.
- If this doesn’t work, you can complaint its web hosting company and advertising partners who are funding the illegal work. You can find details about the web-host by looking-up the website URL in the whois search directory.
5. Keep proofs of your ownership
Once you discover that your work has been plagiarized, the road to justice may or may not be comfortable. You may either end up successfully taking down the plagiarized content or you may also end up investing your time, money and energy in litigations if things turn nasty. It is therefore recommended that you preserve some supporting evidences that clearly establish your ownership over the disputed creations. Examples of such evidences may include – unfinished drafts, revisions, rough sketches, posters, etc. This all serves as a proof that your creations have gradually progressed over a period of time rather than being copied from anywhere else.
When you’re making a DMCA complaint either with Google or the respective web hosting companies, supplementing your complaint with such ownership proofs can fortify your ownership claims & expedite the process of bringing the offenders to book.
Have you been a victim of plagiarism? What steps did you take to fight off the content scrapers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.