It’s a commonly believed myth that anything posted on the Internet is in the public domain. This is not the case. All creators hold the copyright to their published works in digital form, and unless stated, others do not have the right to use it without permission.
Although it is not mandatory to protect your public works, there are small steps you can take to reduce the chance of suffering from plagiarism and mitigate any damage to your Internet marketing efforts.
Follow this Anti-Plagiarism Checklist
You can never fully prevent people from copying your words and images; however, you can certainly deter them. Always follow this checklist from law firm Plattner Verderame, P.C., when creating new content.
- Outline clear guidelines for writers and editors.
- Fact check and verify all of your sources.
- Ensure your writing is unique and offers something brand new for the reader.
- Don’t hire cheap content creators without a proven track record.
Understand Copyright Laws
If you are based in the United States, you and the infringing party will be subject to US law. Outside of the US your content could be protected by the Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Work. That means, in the event of copyright violation, you can prosecute.
That said, it’s always worth checking up on your local copyright laws before you engage in legal proceedings. According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, you should always start by sending a letter to the relevant party. If their physical address isn’t available, an email will suffice.
If you don’t get a response, you can send a takedown notice to their website hosting service or Internet Service Provider (ISP) requesting that the content is removed. However, in such circumstances the burden of proof lies with you, meaning you will have to provide evidence that you created the works in question.
Dealing with Duplicate Content
A lot of Internet marketers fear duplicate content; however, it’s not as disastrous as it’s generally made out to be. Google will not penalize all websites that contain duplicate content. Instead, they’re more likely to penalize the website that offers the least amount of value overall. While this doesn’t mitigate the damage of content theft, it will hopefully provide a little consolation if you have been a victim to plagiarism in the past.
Copyscape is still the go-to website for detecting whether your content has been stolen. While it would be tedious to go through each page of your website on a regular basis, it’s often worth checking your pillar content every quarter.
Sometimes it’s simply better and more cost efficient to cut your losses and accept that your content can never be fully protected. However, in the event of a large-scale plagiarism issue, it’s definitely worth seeking legal advice and taking steps to regain control of your work.
Note: this blog post should not be taken as legal advice for SEO violations and issues of copyright. While the advice above is a good starting point to mitigate the damage caused by plagiarism, it’s important that you read up on the relevant law and address issues accordingly.
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