Friday, October 23, 2009

How do you protect your business website from plagiarism?

You've spent hours developing unique content for your website or you've paid a pretty penny to a website developer to create unique copy. Why did you do this? You knew that Google's algorithm rewards those with unique and relevant content with a higher ranking. Why didn't you plagiarize someone else's site that was performing well? Well, you knew that it was morally and legally wrong, and you knew that if your site was not unique, Google would rank it lower.

Now that you're performing well on Google, your competitors will notice this and may attempt to duplicate your success by stealing your intellectual property. Take steps to prevent this from happening.

Ignorant, Lazy, or Cheap: Why steal website content?

Some people are just plain naïve and think that if it's on the web, it's public domain.

Everyone else feigns naivety, but steals your content because it's cheap, quick and easy. They are either too lazy to spend the countless hours developing content or lack the knowledge and experience in your field or the skill set to generate copy from brain to computer screen on their own.

These copyright violators also know that there's another option to developing their own content. They could pay a copywriter knowledgeable in your business to create unique content. They are just too cheap to do so. This is theft at its finest.

The ounce of prevention.

1. Always place a copyright notice on your website. The HTML code for "©", the little "c" with a circle around it, is "&copy". This will hopefully deter others from thinking it is part of the public domain.

2. Periodically search key phrases in Google. You can pull out whole sentences with quotes around it to see if someone is copying verbatim. However, you also need to search for fragments with quotes and whole sentences without quotes, to see if they are plagiarizing the 7th-grade-term-paper way (by mixing up the words and clauses or by using synonyms).

You can also add key phrases or image names to Google Alerts to let you know immediately when someone steals your content. Many plagiarizers are too lazy to change the file name of your images which easily show up in a google search.

3. Pay a service to monitor your copy for you. Copyscape is the most popular alternative to this. Remember, you get what you pay for in this world, and a little protection up front is worth much more than that pound of cure down the road.

The pound of cure.

If you come across someone who has stolen your intellectual property, research who they are and then contact them immediately. Go to to see who owns their domain name and who the contacts are. Most people, upon a phone call or a professional, non-accusatory email, will feign naivety and agree to immediately remove the content.

Others require more threatening letters or require you to contact their website host. Remember, the law is on your side. If all else fails, contact a lawyer to threaten litigation. If you are successful in copyright infringement litigation, you are entitled to damages and may be entitled to attorney fees.

by C. Michael Arnold
Attorney at Law
Arnold Law Office, LLC
Eugene, Oregon, USA

To visit Arnold Law Office on Facebook, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment