It happens to the best of us: you spend your valuable time writing copy, or better yet hire a talented copywriter to write killer copy for you, and then someone steals it and posts it on their own site. Being the victim of content theft is a frustrating experience that can leave you feeling powerless. So what tools can you use to monitor the copy on your website? Let’s take a look at how you can protect your content from thieves.

Stay Alert

If someone is using your content online, you need to know about it as soon as possible. You can use Google Alerts to let you know when your content appears online. Take a sentence from the middle of an article on your site, put it inside quotation marks, and set up a Google Alert for that phrase. When Google’s crawler finds a new site using that exact phrase, you will receive an email alerting you to the theft.

Similarly, you can use Copyscape to search the web for illicit uses of your content. Simply supply Copyscape with the URL of your content and it will search for exact or close matches online. A paid Copyscape account allows you to set up an automatic search for your content, so you will be alerted as soon as your stolen content goes up online.

Many thieves use bots to scrape content from genuine sites and repost it elsewhere via an RSS feed. Antileech detects these bots when they try to access your site and shows them fake content instead of the real thing.

How to Confront a Content Thief

What do you do when you find your content on someone else’s site? Get contact details from the site or from the WHOis database and contact the thief directly. Stay polite, but firm: let the thief know that your content is protected by copyright and needs to be removed immediately.

You can capitalize on the situation by offering a solution: let the thief choose between licensing the content for a fee or hiring you to write a new article on the same topic. Since you don’t really want duplicate content out there on the web, make your reprint fee much higher than the cost of providing a new article.

Filing a Complaint

After your initial contact, most thieves will either take you up on your offer or (more often) remove the article without a word. If the article stays up, however, you can file a complaint under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Filing a DMCA complaint with Google is easy – you simply need to fill in a form – and could result in the offending site being de-indexed by the search engine. You can also contact advertisers on the website to ask them not to support the copycat site. Using plagiarized content is against the terms and conditions of most major ad networks.

Keep your Content Safe

To discourage theft, add a copyright notice to your site and a notice that you will pursue thieves. Content scrapers look for easy targets – if you let them know that you won’t let them get away with content theft, they are more likely to leave you alone.