When you post written work online, you want to give it your all. Whether you’re writing informally for a blog, or are producing informative and engaging content for a newspaper or magazine, you are probably quite proud of the end product. After all the time and energy you put into writing that material, you want your readers to know that you are the mastermind behind that outstanding piece of literary material. When readers visit your website, they’ll know who to credit for the work.

Problems arise, however, when your work starts appearing on other websites. You may not even be aware that some people spend their days prowling the web, looking for well-written work they want to use and pass off as their own. These people, called content scrapers, can do a considerable amount of damage to your reputation, and even your income, by depriving you of your well-deserved recognition and by re-routing web traffic to their own websites. Luckily, there are several ways to stop these content thieves before they stop you.

What is Content Theft?

Content theft is the cowardly act of taking someone’s work without his or her knowledge or permission. Content thieves may work alone or in a larger group. Individually, they take bits and pieces of written work from other websites, which they bring back to their own site via software programs designed to bypass security walls and leave no trace of their existence. Groups of content thefts often make a business out of stealing and re-publishing content without crediting the initial author.  They can earn a significant profit in doing so, even enough to put you or your company out of business.

How do you know if Your Content Has Been Stolen? 

Content thieves often attack swiftly and silently. They discreetly take content from one site and return it to their own without giving any indication of their actions. However, there are several ways to tell if your content has been used without your consent. Setting Google Alerts is one way to tell if your content is duplicated elsewhere on the web. You can create email alerts based on keywords and phrases associated with your content, and Google lets you know if those words appear elsewhere. You can also use a web-based plagiarism checker. These handy tools let you run phrases, sentences, and URLs through a server to find out if they have been copied and pasted on other websites. Programs such as Grammarly, Plagium, and Copyscape can be used for this purpose.

Defending Against Content Theft

One of the simplest measures you can take to protect against content scraping is to post a copyright notice on your website. That lets others know that you understand your legal rights as an author, and that you’ll defend those rights if necessary. However, most content thieves may not be deterred by that simple measure, and you’ll need more advanced tools to put an end to their actions. Essentially, that entails fighting fire with fire. Just as content scrapers use software to do their business, you can use software to protect yourself.

Programs such as ScrapeSentry offer excellent spam protection by sorting through the good and bad emails, offers, and solicitations that enter your email system.  Other good programs include SPAMfighter Pro, Cloudmark DesktopOne Pro, and MailWasher Pro 2010. These software programs offer the most bang for your buck. They are compatible with many different operating systems, including Macs, most PCs, and a wide range of laptops. They adapt to most operating systems, and work very well with older and newer versions of Windows. One of the most important features of a spam software program is its ability to do just that: find and block spam and unwanted visitors. These programs offer multiple layers of defense, including black and white lists to distinguish the good from the bad, sensitivity controls, filtering capabilities, challenge and response settings, and quarantine. They also provide additional security measures, including blocking certain IP addresses, and verifying server, email addresses, and sorting emails and web solicitations by country codes.

These programs are good choices for individual users as well as for commercial use, since they protect multiple email addresses and computer systems with a single installation. The best content-blocking software programs (like the ones above) go beyond catching spam to help defend users against Trojans, worms, viruses, and attempts by unknown users to steal personal data and information.

When you post content on the internet, you want everyone to know that you are the one responsible for that great work. Most people respect your rights, but some, known as content scrapers, are out to do harm. Defend yourself against attacks with anti-spam and content theft prevention software, plug-ins, and web-based tools.