Nothing is more infuriating or frustrating to an online entrepreneur than a content thief. The idea that some lazy, immoral has the audacity to copy your products, images, or articles is enough to make a steam blast from your ears. Where’s the sense of common decency and fair play? If you’re lucky enough to have avoided yelling, “a troll stole my content,” you may know someone who has.
A Troll Stole My Content
You can take steps to keep it from happening or put a halt to it if it has already occurred.
First Things First
- Set up a copyright statement or page on your business website. Also, numerous sites sell customized copyright pages. You don’t need more busywork, but it does protect your product to some extent. Although, if someone is determined to copy your work, they will.
- Create Google Alerts for each post or page on your site using a unique sentence within each. Perhaps you already utilize these alerts to monitor mentions of your company or brand on social media. Consider this another use of this free service. Remember to place quotations at both ends of your sentence. Expect to be notified if that specific wording is used elsewhere on the web. While it doesn’t stop theft, it keeps you in the know.
- Check for those plagiarizing your content with Copyscape or Unicheck. These sites will help you monitor your previously published content. They each offer some free limited services and paid premium programs. Be conscious it could take a while to process all your posts or have been in business or blogging for more than a few months. Consider starting with your pillar content. You want credit and Google rankings for your most popular material first.
- Install content theft plugins on your website. Some keep trolls from stealing text while others prohibit image copying. However, many others available on the market from which to choose.
- Watermark your images. Purchase software that protects your digital photos or places your name and website at the bottom of each picture. Although, it is fairly easy to crop or edit the words out of most images. Again, nothing will keep a persistent criminal from taking your intellectual property, but it’s a deterrent.
After You Have Discovered a Content Stealing Troll
- First, take a screenshot of the page where your stolen work appears. Also, you can go to the internet archive WayBackMachine to confirm you published this work first if necessary. This site will provide proof someone stole your material even if they have since removed it from the web.
- Email the offending site’s owner and demand your property be taken down within forty-eight hours. If you cannot find an address, go to the WhoIs database, type in the site’s domain name, and you may locate the contact information. Please know that your request may be ignored. If your words or images remain on the site two days later, it is time to move on to the next step.
- Contact the thief’s hosting provider via WhoIs Hosting. Hosts are supposed to respond to complaints within a reasonable amount of time. They can ultimately take down an entire website if they deem it appropriate. Expect of how gratifying it will be to know your actions took down a site that copies others’ hard work. Keep in mind this may not work quickly, so I would move on to the next step because it is a doozy.
- The primary reason for prolific content theft is monetary gain. People unlawfully take your articles or images, republish them, and place advertisements on the page for profit. However, using stolen content is a violation of just about every business contract on planet Earth.
- Contact advertising programs like Adsense, ShareASale, or CJ Affiliate and file a complaint. The offender will likely be banned and lose the incentive to steal from you or anyone else. Also, consider contacting the companies within the ads themselves. However, I would consider that a hail Mary type of move. In other words, they will likely ignore you.
- File a DMCA complaint with Google. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a 1998 United States law meant to protect original works from plagiarism and other acts. If you need further explanation or assistance, consult an attorney, as I am not one.
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- Take action after you have consumed all other alternatives. Perform a Google search for a DMCA lawyer and include the name of your city or town. I would consider this the nuclear option if a troll copied my content. Many people who feel wronged or victimized say, “I’ll sue!” Sadly, it takes one lengthy lawsuit to bankrupt most companies. That goes for both plaintiff and defendant—just food for thought.
While the process of stopping a content thief may seem daunting, it is relatively straight forward when you know what steps to take. Hopefully, you are not in the situation to need them. If you are in that unenviable position, fear not, take action, and block that troll!
Do you know any other strategies that protect content and images from theft? If so, share them in the comment section below.