What to do when your content has been stolen

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Plagiarism is a serious matter. Other people can greatly benefit from stealing your content and placing it on their website, whilst robbing you of views and potential customers. Here's what to do when somebody copies your content.
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Writing is a skill that requires practice, patience, creativity, and discipline. A lot of work and research can go into a single article, which is why it can be very frustrating to see your content stolen and copied elsewhere. Content creators go to great efforts to craft original content and to infuse it with appropriate search engine optimisation (SEO) to boost its reach. If you see your work directly copied elsewhere, a phenomenon called plagiarism, there are various steps you can take to rectify the situation. Plagiarism is an online pandemic, and it only takes a few clicks for another website to copy your content into their domain. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with this situation.

 

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UTILISE GOOGLE ALERTS

The first port of call when it comes to plagiarism is to actually become aware that someone has copied your valuable content. Scrolling through Google search results to find copies of your blog posts is inefficient and could prove to be a massive waste of time. Fortunately, the web giant has created Google Alerts, a tool that tracks all of your content and lets you know when it’s been copied.

The idea behind Google Alerts is to notify users of new and interesting content, allowing net surfers to create custom alerts regarding specific content such as music, sports, and finance. It can also be used to detect stolen content by entering a unique sentence from an article, an author’s name, or the name of a blog. Using a sentence from your blog is probably the best bet. Include the sentence along with quotation marks as a search parameter, and use the tool to scan categories such as news and blogs.

 

HOW TO TAKE ACTION

If you discover that somebody out there has stolen your work and is using it for their own benefit, there are several things you can do. It’s always worth trying to contact the person and politely and professionally asking them to take it down. You can use tools such as print screen and snipping tools to gather visual evidence, even including these as an attachment within the email to show them you have proof. If you get no response within a reasonable time, or the site owner refuses to remove the content, then you can take things a step further.

 

If you discover that somebody out there has stolen your work and is using it for their own benefit, there are several things you can do.

 

Filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint with Google will ensure that the offender’s publication of your work is removed from Google search results. This will result in traffic being directed further toward your content, as opposed to stumbling across plagiarised content on the offending site instead. It is within Google’s policy to take stern action when it comes to intellectual property laws. The responses include disabling access to stolen content and even terminating subscribers. To take action, log in to your Google account and file a Copyright Removal form. You will need to identify and describe the copyrighted work, provide a URL to the original piece, and provide a URL to the location of the infringing material.

Publishing your work online might seem risky considering the sheer scale of plagiarism on the internet. However, the benefits of online content far outweigh the risks. And thanks to technological innovations, detecting stolen work is now easier and faster than ever. Tools such as Google Alerts automate the task of detecting plagiarism, saving content creators huge amounts of time and energy. Remember, if you find out some of your work has been stolen, communicate with the outlet in a civil manner first and present evidence of your complaint. If this doesn’t work, then turn to Google for back up.