Recently a friend reached out with some disconcerting information — Another web design company was using our content and images. At first she didn’t notice, but when she saw my photo on their website, she looked a little closer and sent me a link to check it out.
Unfortunately today owning a website and doing business online also means that if you’re any good or if your site ranks well with search engines, others will steal, rip off, and copy what you do, that you write, what you say, and even how you look. If you’ve never done the research, the blatant thievery and lack of integrity among content thieves online can be shocking and disheartening.
But how do you know if someone is stealing you hard work?
Copyscape: Search For Copies Of Web Pages
Copyscape is a simple easy to use resource that allows you to search for copies of a web page on the internet. Simply paste a URL into the search box and Copyscape will provide you with a list of other URLs using the same content.
We just launched this site with a new design, new images, and new content at the end of October, so I didn’t think I would find too many offenders, but when I put in the core URLs for our website, I found SIX other sites using our content. Some also stole our images, including images of Brian and I, and some even went as far as to steal our code and republish a crappy version of our site as their own.
The free Copyscape service returns a limited number of results, and limits the number of URL searches you can do in a month. But for most sites, it is enough to keep an eye on your content. I highly recommend bookmarking the resource and setting a reminder to check your main URLs once a month or once a quarter.
Want More Support or Ongoing Tracking?
Copyscape offers paid options for those who want a higher level of service.
The Copysentry service provides protection for your site against online plagiarism by automatically monitoring the web for copies of your pages, emailing you as soon as they appear.
The service allows you to:
- Scan the entire web daily or weekly for copies of some or all of your pages
- Be alerted to all new copies, not just a few. Browse previous results online
- Find copies of your content even if they have been modified from the original
- Keep track of multiple cases of plagiarism and your responses to them
- Set the number of copied words required for a match and choose sites to ignore
Copyscape Premium claims to provide the most advanced plagiarism search on the web, allowing you to check the originality of content before publishing it online. This helps avoid duplicate content issues, in turn making your site more valuable to your customers.
With Copyscape Premium, you can also perform unlimited scans for copies of your pages. This way you can track down plagiarism, detect unauthorized copies of your content, and protect your intellectual property and unique identity online.
This service allows you to:
- Search for copies of your offline content by copying and pasting the text
- Find more copies of each page searched
- Check up to 10,000 pages in a single operation with Batch Search
- Track multiple cases of plagiarism and your responses (online content only)
- Link to other Copyscape accounts to pay for and track their searches
- Filter out results from other sites that you own or already know about
- Scripts can perform queries for online content using the Premium API
- Build a private index of your offline content and check against it for duplication
What If People Are Stealing Your Work?
Did you enter a URL into Copyscape and discover another site using your content?
Here are a few options for next steps:
- Contact the site owner directly and ask them to remove the content
- If social profile links are available, also contact them through social channels and ask for the content to be removed
- Depending on their response or lack hereof, you can want to call them out on the plagiarism publicly via social media
- Hire a lawyer and send them a cease and desist letter
- Contact their hosting company and notify them of the plagarism/theft — often them will take the site down
- File a DMCA takedown notice with Google
It feels awful to experience someone stealing your work, especially work you poured your heart and soul into, but unfortunately it’s a reality of doing business online. The key is being aware of it, taking action when you can, and being careful to not to get too caught up in it.
Never let others stealing your work affect your focus and drive.
Never let another’s lack of integrity affect your forward movement.
Always continue to innovate and those who can only copy, will never catch you.
Best of luck to you!