Content stealing is rife on the internet, and there is every chance that if you have written something useful, interesting or insightful that someone will steal it and put it up on their own blog within a few weeks. Fortunately, there are easy ways to find this out.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do about it if you do find that someone has stolen your content.
Most fortunately of all, though, is that thanks to changes made in 2010 – 2011 to Google’s search ranking algorithms, people who steal content seldom gain very much advantage from it, reducing the need for you to lose sleep over your stolen content and traffic.
Content Stealing vs Pingbacks
When I made my first website, I saw to my great distress that someone had used some kind of script to take excerpts from my content and place it on their blog (with little or no context). I didn’t see the point, but I was annoyed – until I realized that they had posted the link to my article there. While I didn’t get much traffic from referrals from the site, the incoming links did help my own articles to gain search results positions.
Thanks to the recent changes to how Google treats stolen content, you no longer have to worry about people stealing your work without attribution, and if they do post a link to your site, it can only help you in the long run.
Tools to Find Content Thieves
There are many very easy ways to find out if someone has stolen your content. The first one is to simply select a sentence or two from your text and Google it. If it comes up anywhere else, chances are someone has stolen it. This only becomes a problem if they have stolen it and edited it heavily, because then Google might not pick it up as stolen content.
There are two other well-known tools that you can use that are easy and free. Both of them have their specific uses:
Copyscape is a useful tool that’s as old as Google itself, which allows you to search the web for your stolen content in two different ways. The first is simply putting in the URL of the page you want to check, and Copyscape will give you any pages with text that is above a certain similarity threshold. It’s very accurate, and gives you a good idea of whether your content has been stolen.
The other mode it has is that it allows you to paste a page of text into it, and it then checks the web for plausible matches. This is a paid-service, but it costs very little and it is especially useful if you are accepting work from freelance writers and want to make sure they didn’t simply steal it from someone else.
FairShare attributor is an awesome little tool that combines the plagiarism-checking features of Copyscape with a decent license-checking tool. Say for example that you are perfectly happy if someone re-uses your content, as long as they give you a link back when they do it.
All you do is you give FairShare a feed of your content, and specify how you will allow your content to be used (only if link provided, not for commercial use, etc.). FairShare then does a check to see if any of your content has been re-used without the conditions of your license being met. It then only gives you results for the sites that violate your license.
What To Do If Your Content Has Been Stolen
If your content has been stolen, and you really want to get it down, you face a long and probably expensive legal fight. However, you can start with getting a DMCA account, and using it to issue takedown notices. Once these notices have been issued, and the content has not been taken down, you can then file a lawsuit for copyright violation – provided you can find the owner of the site and have them prosecuted in whatever country they live.
Because of the way Google treats stolen content, however, it is seldom worth your while to prosecute someone for doing something that probably hasn’t helped them in any way.