How to Protect Yourself From Content Theft

Matt Cutts, Google search quality control dude, posted this answer on Youtube to a question regarding stolen content (I won’t be discussing stolen images in this article).

We’ve all faced this issue, (or at least, anybody who’s written something of value has), where you’ve written an article and someone rips it off. What can you do? Send a strongly worded email? File a DMCA report? That’s probably not your best bet.

The example in the video was the extreme, someone posting your content with a post date prior to the yours in hopes Google will discover it first.

Fact is, companies have been built and sold for millions over scrapped content. Look at glorified scrapper Huffington Post. Little unique content, tons of stolen borrowed articles–it happens all the time.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from content theft:

  • As mentioned, PING news services if you’re blogging. Auto ping is available in WordPress. This will send a quick message to news aggregators that you have a new post (including Google News).
  • Auto tweet your post. Don’t exclusively use Twitter to auto-post your new articles, but having that instant tweet will help Google find some ‘evidence’ that your content was first and you’re the genuine owner. You can utilize other social media tools to post a new article as well.
  • Only offer snippets in your RSS feeds. Many websites scrap via your RSS feeds. You have the option to display either a summary or a full article. We only display summaries so only a snippet can be scrapped. We also have a auto-footer in our RSS feeds which means if you do steal our content then we’ll in fact get a few links pointing back to the original web site. In WordPress it’s a plugin called RSS Footer.
  • If your content has been stolen file a DMCA report, or you can even try to dig up information on the website’s host and complain to them. Web hosts don’t like to host websites that are constantly getting in trouble (since they catch some of the flak too.
  • Like Matt said, you can also tell Google about the stolen content. The only problem about filing reports is that it can take months at best before action is taken (if it ever has).
  • However, having said all of this, there’s really only one way to protect your content when push comes to shove (as in when you have to go to court to prevent someone from stealing your intellectual property) and that is filing for copyright.

In Canada I believe the cost is $50. For both, that’s for one filing (one website). In the USA to protect your web content it will cost you–get this–$35 bucks. That’s it. Here’s the link, the process is really simple as well.

Once you’re protected in copyright you literally have the only iron-clad method of forcing someone to remove your content and also receiving renumeration. Without it the courts will have little recourse to rule in your favor, with it you’re a winner every time.