Keep Your Website Content Unique: Battle The Pirates That Are Stealing Your Content

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You’ve worked hard to create some great content for your site. You’ve done all the right things. You’ve written original articles that are great for users and are optimized for excellent search engine placement.

Everything seems fine until you start to do some searches to see exactly how well your content is performing. You look for a few of your articles and find websites from here to the Ukraine that are posting your articles.

Why keeping your content unique to your website is important

This is a problem. The value of your content is instantly diluted or maybe even totally lost when other websites copy it. Here’s why:

  • Your branding is threatened. Suddenly you’re no longer the sole source of the information you have provided. Readers will not recognize you as the authority. Most will assume that the information originated at whatever website they first found it.
  • Your bottom line suffers. If you have a product or service that you’re selling, someone else will be able to swoop in and take a slice of your market share.
  • You slide down the search results pages. Sites that pirate your content may end up ranking above you within the search results, especially if they are more establish sites with more backlinks. While it’s true that search engines try to determine where copy originated, it’s a tough task and they often fail.
  • You risk being penalized. If the search engines think your site is mostly duplicate content, you could be algorithmically penalized for having what the search engines think is a low quality site.

You don’t want to suffer any of these nightmares so it’s vitally important that you keep your content unique to your website and prevent the content thieves from swooping in and doing a major copy and paste job on all your hard work.

Copying web content without permissions IS stealing and it IS illegal

Let’s get one fact out of the way: stealing your web content is illegal. It doesn’t matter what excuse someone gives you—it’s against the law. I’ve had people claim that because they weren’t using it to sell something it was okay for them to repost my content. That’s just not true.

You may have a article pirate say something like, “Hey sorry, but you didn’t have a copyright notice posted, so it’s fair game.” Again, this just isn’t true.

Here are the facts:

  • Virtually everywhere, and certainly in the United States, you are protected the moment your publish your material and it doesn’t matter if you publish to paper or electronically to the web. If they don’t believe you just send them here.
  • There doesn’t have to be money or profit involved. Even if the website isn’t selling anything, it still can’t steal your articles. Small sections of articles can be quoted or referenced for news reporting, reviews or educational purposes. But lifting large sections or whole articles is definitely against the law.

Scare the pirates away before they attack

Just like mom used to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so even though you don’t need to post a copyright notice on your pages, do it. You’ll be eliminating one excuse a future thief might throw back at you. You should also consider a Copyscape badge.

Track the pirates down and bring them to justice

But let’s face it, that won’t stop all the people who are too lazy to create their own content. Here are a few steps to take once you’ve discovered that your articles are popping up like weeds all over the Internet.

The idea is to start at the source and if you don’t get results, start turning up the heat and branching out. First send a nice email to the site explaining the situation and asking them to remove your content. Always be very polite – many webmasters are simply ignorant of the fact that copying content without permission is stealing. You may get results by politely asking them to remove your content from their site.

If that doesn’t do it, send a “cease and desist” letter via registered mail. If the owner of the website doesn’t remove your copy after receiving the letter, send one to the webhost. Unless the offending website can prove that their site owns the content, the webhost is required to remove it.

Finally, if all else fails, pick up the phone and call a good lawyer. You can sue to have the material removed and the thief might also be forced to pay restitution.

Adam Thompson
Adam J Thompson is the founder of RYP Marketing, an online marketing agency based in Roanoke, VA. Need help with your SEO, link building, or... Read Full Bio
Adam Thompson
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  • Senanthony

    It’s a nice idea but realistically this is a non starter. Copied content is rampant, unless you get lucky most people will ignore your emails.

    The webhost is paid by the content thief, just because you sent them a letter doesn’t mean they are going to believe you over a paying customer. Further the webhost is protected and is unlikely to get involved over someone cut and pasting a few pages of text.

    Sadly there’s not really much that you can do but hope the thief is easily scared or has a sense of right and wrong.

    • Adam Thompson

      “most people will ignore your emails”

      Many will, but some will respond. I’ve had surprising success just by emailing and calling people.

      “the webhost is protected and is unlikely to get involved”

      Actually, they are only protected IF they DO get involved. If they ignore your DMCA notice, they can then become liable for the content themselves. Again, I have successfully used notices to get web hosts to takedown content – it was effective.

  • Gemini7hebest

    Ok Adam am agree with you with all what you have said here was a universal truth but clear me. If someone has copied your article he doesn’t rewrite it nor spin it and posted your article on his own website or blog and in resource box given you the credit for that article now he is ranking above you in search engine what will you do for this.

    • TheChiro

      I’d like to know the answer to this as well.

    • Adam Thompson

      Well, just giving you credit doesn’t make using your content without permission illegal. If he has a followed link to your original article, I would expect your original to outrank the copied version in most cases (though I realize Google is having issues with this). I guess you would have to decide if getting the link and publicity is worth being outranked or not.

      • Gemini7hebest

        I don’t think that in modern days or we say nowadays someone has enough time to sue someone because he has copied his article. It will cost you more than what you have wrote in that article. Bring some techniques to pull him down or compete him instead of all this. Am not interested in US Copyright Laws don’t have time to visit courts and lawyers.

  • billyj

    honestly some guy hosted in the ukraine isn’t going to give a stuff about US law or a dmca notice. suck it up and move on i’m afraid.

  • billyj

    honestly some guy hosted in the ukraine isn’t going to give a stuff about US law or a dmca notice. suck it up and move on i’m afraid.

  • Press

    Good Post

  • Zachari rayenz

    This things are really best and I think that we always put something fresh content it will help you in many ways also.

    search engine optimization services

  • Emma Hobes

    Just because taking preventive measure doesn’t work for everyone and it’s somehow become “inevitable” that people steal, doesn’t mean we just have to accept it as it is. We have to protect what’s ours by all means necessary, and taking actual actions is the way to go. Thanks for sharing this post, Adam. Keep it up!

  • Jeff Bridges

    Adam has great points on this post, as it is true also the search engines themselves can detect if which among the two similar posts from varying site is original by refining the date posted. And if the early posted one is identified, it is then set to priority for the same search results compared to its copycat.

  • Zippy Cart

    Duplicate content is a legitimate problem. Ever since the internet started spreading into people’s homes, the issue has been getting the public to actually pay for content. When it’s on the internet, no one wants to pay for it (see music piracy, movies, etc.). The time and energy you expend getting people to take down your material when they’ve illegally copied it can cut into your bottom line, but if you see other sites using your material to get traffic that should be rightfully yours, then it might be worth it to go after them.

  • Meri Kuusi-Shields

    A very common and frustrating problem. We’ve noticed that in the USA locally the “cease and desist” threat works really well, and the copied content has been taken down swiftly, within few days. Typically companies blame interns who were tasked to write about a certain topic and were never questioned about their source.