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Technical Tricks: How To Protect Your Content From Plagiarizing, And What To Do If It Gets Stolen

Filed under Blogging

Plagiarism is a real plague of the today’s content marketing. Simply put, to plagiarize means to take someone else’s content and publish it as your own. Plagiarism not only cheats the original author of the credits for their work they deserve, it also presents direct financial damage for them.

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If someone plagiarizes your work you posted online, they face several disadvantages that work against them rather than for them. These include:

  • the fact that Google (and other search engine) algorithm normally scans works with identical content and values the oldest one (although sometimes the opposite can happen).
  • the fact that they are missing out on networking possibilities when they fail to cite their source of information.
  • the fact that they will not be developing their own critical thinking and writing skills, instead resort to stealing others’ work.

Still, plagiarism in the world of content management happens more often than you think, so you should make sure to be aware of different ways you can protect your own content, as well as what to do in the unfortunate event it gets stolen.

It is extremely hard to get your justice once the act has been already done in terms of legal action due to the jurisdictional differences and to be honest, the time and money cost might outweigh the benefits of this course of action. This is why it is paramount to take precautions before it is too late.

Use Copyscape or an Alternative

Copyscape is a staple of any anti-plagiarism efforts and really, a must-add to the toolbox of any serious content marketer/creator. It is a website that allows you to quickly check whether content is original or copy pasted, as well as show you where content has been copied from.

There is a free trial after which you need to start paying for the service though.

If you can’t afford the premium version or don’t want to use Copyscape, there are several other similar tools you can help yourself with, each with their own different unique feature and most of them free of charge:

  • Plagium – great free alternative that supports six different languages.
  • DupliChecker – allows upload of text files along with the usual copy/paste method.
  • Plagiarisma – offers three different ways of content check: text box, upload and URL scan.
  • PlagiarismChecker – another good alternative, has no word limit.
  • CopyGator – monitors your RSS feeds and sends you notifications of instances of plagiarism.

Get Google Alerted

One way to easily learning of any plagiarism attempts is to create Google Alerts for every piece of content you publish. This way you can easily get an alert via your email inbox every time someone tries to steal your hard work.

Disable Text Selection or Photo Saving Locally

Another good way to protect your content, whether it’s a blog post or a photo stream is to disable the very mechanics that allow the perpetrators to steal from you. In case of a blog post or other texts, this means disabling text selection (easily done via WP-CopyProtect plugin if you are a WordPress user), while for photos you can have the ability to save the image file via the right click removed.

Watermark is Your Friend

Another essential way to make your images plagiarism-proof, is to add a watermark with the name of your blog or website. This can be easily done using a photo editing software such as Photoshop. With watermarks, those plagiarists will think twice before they choose to promote you on their website.

Longer Texts Save The Day

It is a general consensus that most plagiarists will leave your piece of text alone if it’s longer than 1000 words. So you should make it a habit to write your blog post with the word count above this mark. This not only helps deter the plagiarists but also increases your search engine rank.

Use Creative Commons Licences

Creative Commons is an organization which provides content licences that you can apply to your content. The badge, and there are several versions, provides easy to understand instructions on how to, or how not to, use your content. Best of all, it’s relatively simply to set up. It’s typically ready within minutes and free of charge.

Work the RSS Feeds

Content scrapers are programs which use your content to automatically create and publish identical or similar pieces of content on another website or blog. Although Google has made sure that the websites that use content scrapers don’t rank higher than you since 2011, it’s still a good practice to get proactive and make it harder for content scrapers to work. This is done by allowing only shortened RSS feeds which scrapers typically use or by adding a copyright notice in RSS feeds. Examples of tools to achieve this are WordPress plugins: Simple Feed Copyright and Station Identification.

What To Do When You Notice Your Content is Stolen?

The first, and nicest way to deal with a plagiarist is to contact them directly with an assertive notice. Find out their email address and write a short but concise email. You should ask them to take down the content or give you the credit for the parts that were plagiarised. Explain you will be forced to take legal action in case they fail to do so in a given time period – make sure to set a deadline. If that backfires, you can contact search engines and ask for the plagiarizing website be blacklisted. Additionally, you can ask the hosting providers of the perpetrators to take measures.

What about you? What are your tried and true ways of preventing plagiarism outside of the ones we mentioned? Do you have any stories that involve finding out your content was plagiarised? What would you do if you noticed your content was copied without getting cited? Share your thoughts below.

Guest Author: Elise Brooks

Elise Brooks is a copywriter at Essayfreak.com.

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