In today’s online marketplace, content is everything. It brings traffic to your website and into your sales funnel, which ultimately drives revenue and growth. According to Forbes, 88% of B2B marketers currently incorporate content in their overall strategy. With 85% saying they will focus on content for its lead generation potential in 2016.

A staggering amount of content, from blogs to videos to ebooks and white papers, is available online. Unfortunately, the tremendous digital production line has made it easy for content creators to steal, “scrape,” lift, and repurpose your content without correct attribution. There is a word for this unscrupulous behavior: Plagiarism.

Plagiarism is not, says, “a criminal or civil offense.” But it is illegal “if it infringes on an author’s intellectual property rights, including copyright or trademark.” Alerting to plagiarism can be time consuming, proving it can be difficult and prosecuting can be costly. But one thing is certain. It happens.

That means your content marketing efforts may be developing leads for your competitors. Add to the insult, Google could penalize YOU if it considers the duplicate the original and yours the duplicate. So you have to be vigilant to detect and prevent the appropriation of your intellectual property in the digital world.

Recently, Hinge was the victim of plagiarism. An author took one of our high-performing blog posts, changed a few words, and posted it on a prominent social media site, all in an effort to position himself as a thought leader and original content producer. As soon as we learned of this unapproved use of our content, we reported the abuse to the social media site and it was quickly removed. But could the theft of our intellectual property have been prevented?

Protect Your Content

Plagiarism checking tools, once within the sole purview of academia, are now addressing the commercial need from websites and firms that rely on content marketing. Here are a few noteworthy tools and services.

  • Copyscape: Like many other sites, Copyscape offers free URL and text checkers, but it also has a paid service called Copysentry, which will monitor your website pages and content on a regular basis and deliver reports.
  • CopyGator: This free service monitors your blog content as an RSS feed and checks against other feeds in the blogosphere.
    PlagSpotter: Billed as a duplicate content checker and monitoring tool, PlagSpotter can scan for, detect and monitor unauthorized duplication of your website content.
  • MySiteCop: MySiteCop conducts monthly scanning and monitoring of your website contents to track any copies found on other websites

Always check pricing and features to be sure the solution you choose truly fits your needs. And, over time, your requirements may change, as may the services one offers, so periodically re-evaluate your plagiarism-checking options.

Take Action

But what to do if you’ve identified derivative content? There are many ways you can go about having it removed. Here are a few recommended tactics:

  1. Contact the author directly: Unfortunately, this can be ineffective; however if you communicate your intent to take meaningful action against them, it could be the quickest and least costly in terms of time and money.
  2. Report the offense to the publishing website: If the stolen content has been placed on publishing platforms like Linkedin, Huffpo, or other industry news outlets, you can file a complaint report directly with the publisher. They will likely investigate and remove any offending content, as they risk credibility with their audience. When reporting, be sure to send links to your original content and completely describe the issue with all the known facts.
  3. File a report with Google: In Google Webmaster Tools, you can file what is called a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint. Google will remove the offending content from search results based on copyright ownership law. A DMCA takedown is a thorough and detailed process, and it can be the best way to keep Google on your side.
  4. Appeal to the hosting company: Perform a WHOIS lookup ( and report the derivative content to their hosting company. Offending sites or pages can be removed by the host with sufficient evidence of a copyright violation.

Automated plagiarism scanners are certainly not full proof. For every and people with malicious intent will beat the systems.

Remain Above Reproach

Most writers and content producers do not intentionally plagiarize. But unintentional plagiarism is common. The best way to combat the epidemic of plagiarism is to keep your own content pilfer-free. Here are common sense tips from Hubspots’ guide to correct attribution online, “How to Cite Sources & Not Steal People’s Content on the Internet.”

  1. Word for word. When you pull wording directly from another source, use quotation marks around what you’re lifting, and cite the original. If the information is online, it is easy enough to copy the webpage URL and provide link.
  2. Facts and data. If you want to take a fact or research from another source, weave into the sentence the original source. Another option is to use [source], with the appropriate URL link at the end of the sentence or paragraph.
  3. On social media. Go above the recommended citation advice and offer social media links to those you reference. For example, “Follow @HingeMarketing” on Twitter.
  4. Images and photographs. Probably the most frequently appropriated content are images, infographics, and photographs. Photos and graphics are covered by the same copyright rules as copy. Cite the original web source or artist just as you would an author or publication.

Has your content ever been plagiarized? Have a story on digital theft you want to share? Tell us about it in the comments.