How to find out and what to do about it
You spend hours and hours toiling away at your desk, creating unique, quality content, only to learn that someone has copied and pasted your articles or blog posts to their website, and claimed them as their own. What do you do?
How to find out if your content has been plagiarized
Content theft is no laughing matter and search engines and web hosting companies have strict policies against it. The easiest way to find out if your content has been plagiarized is to use an online plagiarizer checker.
Copyscape: Copyscape is a free web based search tool that will locate copies of your text and web pages across the Internet.
Copy Gator: Copy Gator is a free service that aggregates data from more than two million blog feeds. After collection, Copy Gator crunches all the data and then compares it, weeding out those websites that have counterfeit content.
Dupli Checker: With Dupli Checker, you enter a paragraph of text and it scours the Internet looking for a match.
What to do about content thieves
Once you’ve identified that your content is being used without your permission, it’s time to play detective and track down the thieves and send a cease and desist letter. Using the above tools, you already know the domain name that has taken your content without permission. What do you do next?
Contact the website owner. Go to the domain in question and locate a contact form or email address and send a quick letter linking directly to the content that has been stolen.
Contact the web host. Use a whois tool to learn what web hosting company is hosting your stolen content. (Hint: look at the nameservers that the domain in question is using. When it says ns1.joewebhostingcompany.com, joewebhostingcompany.com is where you want to go.) Send an email to the web host, identifying both the original content on your website and the stolen content on the other website.
In most cases, either one of the above steps will solve your problem. However, in the event that neither the domain owner nor web hosting company responds to you, there’s still more to be done: you can take your claim to a higher authority. Search engines do not tolerate copyright infringement. For example, Google has set up a location on its site where you can quickly and easily report content theft. Many other search engines have done the same.
How much should you worry about theft?
A great A-list blogger once noted that he’s not at all concerned with who may be lifting his words and ideas because he saw it as a complement that anyone would care enough to do so. Other website owners take a more proactive stance, checking their websites against others online each week. How you handle potential plagiarism is up to you. And while idea thieves are never cool or something to aspire to, the fact that someone has taken the time to copy your words means that you’re doing at least one thing right: you’re creating good, quality content. Deal with the plagiarism problem, but remember to keep your focus squarely on continuing to do good work.