10 Ways to Thwart Copycats on the Web

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / April 21, 2014

 content theft

If you use the internet for marketing, advertising, sharing information, and completing business transactions, you know how important it is to have fresh, original content to catch the attention of potential shoppers and to increase your site’s popularity status. You probably spend quite a bit of time creating original content and you want others to know who is behind the end product. While most people respect your authorship, there are others who may not. Content thieves or scrapers, take valuable personal information and steal the works of others without providing acknowledgement or giving the original author credit. These thieves are, at best, a headache for businesses who deal with them on a daily basis. At their worst, they can cause considerable damage to a business and its reputation.

What is meant by Content Misuse?

Content Misuse or theft is the act of taking small portions of written work from one website, such as a corporate homepage, social media site, blog, or electronic news article, and transporting it back to a website maintained by the content thieves. These cybercriminals take content from the websites of others by using sophisticated software that lets them bypass security gates to gain access to the targeted computer or network. From there, they freely take content and transport it to their own websites, where it may appear as original content.

Why Should You Be Concerned About Content Misuse?

Scraping has the potential to cause significant harm to businesses. Since written material that is taken from one site and reprinted on another appears without crediting the original author, people who see the material in both places do not know which of the two sites has the original content, and which has the copied material. Therefore, they may think that the content thieves are the original content creators, and that your site contains the duplicate information, which can damage you (or your company’s) credibility, trustworthiness, and reliability. As your squeaky clean business image becomes tarnished, customers and potential clients may quickly lose interest in your products and services, and they might start shopping elsewhere. This, over time, may result in a considerable loss of revenue and prevent your business from growing.

Protecting Yourself from Web Theft

To stop content thieves from wreaking havoc on your company’s credibility and reliability, it is important to take action against content misuse and theft. Here are ways to protect content on your website from scrapers:

1.     Post Copyright Notices:

Having copyright signs on your site lets thieves know you are aware of your legal rights and will defend them if necessary.

2.     Disable Hotlinks:

Content thieves often try to steal content using hotlinks. With this control method, hotlinks are disabled, and thieves are unable to transport material.

3.     Modify your RSS Feed:

Content thieves often steal material through RSS feeds. You can prevent this by posting a statement on your feed that says the material readers are seeing belongs to you.

4.     Use Watermarks:

Putting a watermark, like a brand or company logo, on your content, is a way to authenticate the data. You can add links so that any material removed from your site automatically links back to it.

5.     Use Plug-ins:

You can use plug-ins to stop unwanted intruders from accessing your site with copyright notices, fortified security measures, and other postings and warnings to deter thefts and alert others when that content has been stolen.

6.     Create Google Alerts:

Google Alerts is a valuable, simple, and user-friendly method of combating content theft. You can set up alerts using a specific keyword or phrase that is unique to your content. Google, in turn, will send you alerts if your material appears elsewhere.

7.     Claim Ownership:

With Google Authorship, your authentic material always appears with a unique trademark, icon, or image. Others will know content has been stolen when it appears without this attachment.

8.     Shrink-Wrapping:

Shrink wrapping does not stop thieves from taking material from your site. It even lets them take images from your site and save it to theirs. When they open their files, however, the original picture appears as something completely different.

9.     Slice and Dice:

This technique lets you dissect your photos, then use a table to turn the segments into a complete picture on your site. Thieves, when trying to take your photo, will have to download and save the individual segments.

10.  Monitor & Take Action:

Despite your best efforts, if your content has been stolen, you can take action to retrieve it. Programs like CopyScape, and Plagium let you know if your work has been taken while service like Scrapesentry helps you to monitor any such uneven traffic.

Content theft is a growing problem. Businesses and individuals risk having their content stolen from websites unless they take preventative action. Fortunately, there are ways that you can prevent this from happening to you with the help of copyright notices, plugins, and Google Alerts.

John Reiley is a tech enthusiast who loves being a part of the ever growing web community. He is a network specialist currently residing in US. John has a passion for writing articles and daily columns to serve his audience and educate them about the current technological advances.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.