Millions upon millions of websites exist and operate in today’s digital world, offering an endless forum of information, entertainment and so much more. So it’s little surprise that the massive proliferation of online resources has spawned a major problem: protecting website content from copyright infringement in the form of plagiarism or outright theft.
Imagine someone using a piece of text from your website and profiting from the act of doing so. Or having a writer steal a column from your blog and present it as their own work on their own site. It might even be something less nefarious, such as students—so many of whom today do their research solely on the Internet—not realizing the implications of copying and pasting words into their homework.
As a website owner or administrator, if you haven’t heard of DMCA—the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—you absolutely should be familiar with the groundbreaking legislation. Enacted in 1998, it’s the law of the digital land, protecting all content published online under the same copyright laws enjoyed by musical artists, novelists, videographers etc. And it gives website owners the ability to prevent their content from being used elsewhere as well allows for the taking of legal action should material be overly paraphrased or plagiarized outright.
Thankfully, there are preventative measures you can take to protect your web content copyrights. To begin, register your website with the DMCA and add one of their badges to your site, which lets potentials infringers know that you’re protecting your content. You should also include a copyright notice on your website, and post a “Do Not Copy” Badge from a service that monitors the web for duplicate content, both of which are nice ways to send a signal that you’re keeping an eye on potential theft.
If you should find that you’re a victim of website content copyright infringement, you should act quickly to mitigate and repair the damage. To begin, review and backup the original files of content you wrote before it was uploaded to your site: if push comes to shove during a legal process, it will help you prove that you’re the original author. Then, carefully and thoroughly document the sites on which your content was used without your permission. You can also try to contact the offending party and ask them to remove the plagiarized material—this is often enough to solve the problem.
Should the content thief persist in using your copyrighted content, consult the DMCA Protection and Takedown Services. There’s a fee for having them fix the situation, and they also offer a DYI option that may be enough to have the material removed. Lastly, be sure to file a grievance with Google—through their relationship with DMCA they have the ability to disable the plagiarized content and can even block the subscriber.
Website content infringement can be an annoyance at the least and a serious offense resulting in financial repercussions or personal embarrassment at the worst. But by taking steps to protect your hard work, it’s relatively simple to keep your content safe and securely yours.
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