Content is king, and that means it needs protecting.
That’s why, if someone steals your content, it can be painful.
The ramifications can be much worse, however.
Here’s how plagiarism can affect you, and how to protect yourself from it.
It is easy to plagiarise online
The internet is a fantastic tool for any company.
There’s no quicker way of getting the word out there about what you do, and there’s no easier way to keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers like right now.
However, it does also make plagiarising content a lot easier.
There have been countless famous plagiarism cases online, and you probably know of a few yourself.
That’s why you need to keep yourself protected.
What plagiarism means for your brand
If someone steals your content, it can have several ramifications for you and your brand:
1 — Loss of customers
Your content was created to bring in customers to your website.
It was made specifically for you.
If someone steals it and uses it on his or her website, then they are getting the benefit.
Customers may go to them instead of you, meaning you lose out on valuable custom.
2 — Damage to your reputation
If your work is found elsewhere, the casual observer will not be able to tell who had it first.
That can damage your reputation if you are seen to have possibly taken your work from elsewhere.
If you went to all that work of putting content together, that is the last thing you want.
3 — Loss of standing with Google and other search engines
Google, in particular, has taken a hard stance with piracy of content.
If you have writers who use stolen content, then you can lose standing with them.
That means your website will be pushed lower and lower down in the search listings when people are looking for you.
Of course, that is the last thing you want.
As you can see, plagiarism has serious consequences, whether you are the sire who’s content was stolen, or you are using stolen content without knowing.
That means you need to take serious steps to ensure it does not happen to you.
How to Prevent Plagiarism
1 — Buy content from trusted sources
If you buy in your content, you want to use a source you can trust.
Their writers are trusted only to write original content, so you can use it and know that you are in safe hands.
2 — Clearly mark your copyrighted property
Any content you makes is yours under the eyes of copyright.
Take the time to mark your work as yours under these rules.
Usually, all you need to so is mark a piece of content as ‘Copyright John Doe’ or similar underneath, so it is evident whom it belongs.
It will not stop all thieves, but it will give many pauses for thought before they try it.
3 — Make sure you know who owns the copyright
When you write your content, the copyright belongs to you.
The only problem comes when you buy content from others.
The best way to get around this is to buy from a site that sells you the intellectual rights, as well as the writing itself.
Ox Essays are one such place that will sell you the rights so that you can publish their work without worry.
4 — Be proactive in protecting yourself
Make a point of regularly Googling your content.
When you search for it, your piece should be the first that shows up in the search listings.
If someone uses your writing, though, you will find that it will show up in the results too.
That’s why it is essential to do this regularly.
If you catch any plagiarism quickly enough, then you can nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand.
5 — Make sure you are up to date on content marketing
Marketing online is an ever changing beast, so you need to stay up to date on what’s happening.
There’s lots of help out there, and the Academized Content Marketing Guide is a great place to start.
Take a look at what they have to say, especially about using other people’s content.
6 — Run any content through plagiarism checkers
This is a helpful tip, whether you write your content or buy it in. Whatever piece you have, find a good plagiarism checker and run the writing through it.
Most suitable sensors will be able to locate the plagiarism if there is any.
It could be that parts have been accidentally plagiarised, or it was done intentionally.
Either way, you can ensure that that work does not get published without your knowledge.
7 — Cite your sources properly
Of course, the accusations of plagiarism can go both ways.
You may want to use other people’s writing in your work.
This is fine to do if you are sure to use the material to highlight or bolster your points.
You also need to ensure you are citing your sources correctly, to ensure no one can accuse you of stealing others’ work.
Try using a site such as Cite It In to help you get your sources correct.
What to do if your content has been stolen?
If you find that your content has been taken and is being used elsewhere, don’t panic.
There are options, and you may find it is simple to deal with. Here’s what you need to do.
1 — Contact the website in question
It could well be that the internet site with your content does not realise it is yours.
They could have fallen victim to a less than a scrupulous writer, or even found your content somewhere else without knowing it is yours.
The best thing to do is to get in contact with them and explain what has happened.
In the vast majority of cases, you will find that the website will back down and remove your content without a fight.
That’s why getting in touch first is always the best way forward.
2 — Contact the domain provider
If the owners of the website will not take your content down, then your next best bet is to contact the company that provides their domain.
Thanks to Google being so hard line on plagiarism, you will find that they will often take the content down for you.
Of course, you need to be able to prove that the material is yours, but that should not be a problem.
What to do if you find your content contains plagiarised work
If you are a big enough organisation, you may conclude that it is impossible to oversee every piece that’s written for you.
You do need to check them for plagiarism, though, or you may be victim to a very embarrassing oversight.
As mentioned in the tips above, run a plagiarism check on every piece you are about to publish online.
Most of the time if it does flag anything, it is probably going to be a false positive.
If it is not, though, you need to take some steps.
First of all, halt all production of that piece of content.
Then, you will need to contact the writer or editor, to ask if the article can be rewritten, or handed off to someone else to be rewritten.
Then, if needed, contact the site where the article should be published.
Explain why there’s a delay, and offer an alternative piece if needed.
The final thing to do is to remove that contributor from your contacts.
If they have plagiarised once, they could do so again. Don’t take the risk, don’t work with them again.
Should you copyright your content?
Many website owners wonder about copyrighting their content.
If they own the copyright, then they should not suffer quite so much content theft, right?
Well, it turns out that your work may already be copyrighted.
As a general rule, the author or creator of the work will automatically have copyright assigned to them, so they are recognised as the creator of that work.
Therefore, if you are the writer of all your content online, then the copyright is already yours.
When it comes to work made by other people, it can get a bit tricky.
If you are buying content from a third party, then you want to ensure that the purchase includes the right to distribute the writing as you see fit.
When it comes to logos and branding, these can be protected by a trademark registration.
Doing this means that you can prove the design was made for you alone and can fight the use of it elsewhere if needs be.
When it comes to your unique content, you need to be on the ball.
You have to ensure that you are not using copyrighted content from elsewhere.
You also need to make sure that no one is using your content without your permission.
It sounds like a Herculean task, but it is worth it in the long run.
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Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.