7 Simple Actions to Protect Your Online Content From Internet Thieves
We all have heard those horror stories of dishonest people pilfering someone else’s work and passing it off as their own. Whether it be copy or images, this is an offence punishable by law, if the proper attribution and permission is not sought from the owner.
Today I am going to tell you about 7 easy steps you can use to protect your online content and make the “thief” take down your content.
Step 1 – How to identify if your content is being used without your permission
There’s a nifty tool on the web called Google Alerts where you can copy and paste a portion of your article and choose what types of websites should be searched. Google then notifies you via email with any search results matching your pilfered content. There are other similar tools that you can also try such as Copyscape, Plagium and for images, TinEye or Google Images.
Step 2 – Gather evidence of theft
You must have evidence in order to catch the thief. A great way to do this is to take a screenshot of the plagiarized content clearly showing the url on which it is published. Save it to your computer so this serves as proof of the date you first viewed it.
Step 3 – Establish your ownership
Review your files to identify all drafts/versions of the content in question. This will serve as proof of what date and time you actually created it. Check that you actually own the copyright. In Trinidad and Tobago copyright protection is automatic and therefore registration is not required under the Copyright Act. If your work was commissioned from a third party, they will own the copyright (even if you paid them) so you need to check that the copyright has passed to you by way of an appropriate assignment. This can be a simple agreement transferring all copyright in the content/creation to you.
Step 4 – Email the thief
Check to see if the blogger or webmaster has contact information available so you can contact them and ask to have the duplicate content removed. I know it can prove difficult, but when you contact the thief, try to remain ultra-professional at all times.
Remember these 5 sub steps: (i) inform them of the theft, (ii) assert your right to copyright ownership, (iii) request the removal of the content and/or compensation, (iv) ask for a response within 5 days from the date of your email and (v) explain that you are willing to take this further by contacting their advertisers to inform them of the infringement, contacting their hosting company to request they remove the content or disable their website.
Step 5 – Send a Cease and Desist Letter
A Cease and Desist Letter is just a formal letter that says “Stop or Else” and shows that you are serious. You should therefore at the very least have:
- A clear timetable for response.
- Your intention to send copies of this Cease and Desist Letter to their hosting company and advertisers to let them know of the infringement.
- A clear statement that you will take further legal action if this is not resolved to your satisfaction by the deadline.
Step 6 – Issue a takedown notice to the website, hosting service or advertisers
If your “thief” doesn’t oblige, then you can resort to contacting the website host where your content is being plagiarized. You can find the information you need by going to Who Is Hosting This and typing in the URL of the site that has stolen your content. Often, they will pull the plug on the entire site that has posted your content without permission.
Step 7 – File a DMCA complaint with Google
You also can file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint against a site that has stolen your content. This can be done via Google Webmaster Tools. If Google deems that another site actually has been stealing your content, then the site will be banned from Google’s search engines.
How to Stop This from Happening Again
It is useful to use the © symbol followed by your full name and date of creation to assert your copyright. For example © Emma J Charles Ltd 2017. This simply helps advertise the fact you are claiming, and staking your ownership, of anything that is appended with that text.
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