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Combating Content Thieves

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When it comes to your website and its place in the SERPs and its SEO, you know that you keep hearing the same thing over and over again – whatever else you do make sure that your content is engaging, well written and completely unique. A great many businesses have taken this advice to heart and spend a considerable amount of time – and often money – creating and generating the very best original content they can. That is why if you discover that someone is plagiarizing your content to pass off as their own it is so galling.

Plagiarism is nothing new, it has been going on since the first words were written down and Internet plagiarism has, to a certain extent, been around right from the beginning of the World Wide Web as well. But while the author of a book or a song can go to court and sue the content thieves what can the owner of a website do about plagiarized content other than just gnash their teeth?

Web content is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a number of other acts and as the real author you do have plenty of rights. But just how do you even begin to exercise them?

You can of course try to reason with the owners of the stolen content but sadly that rarely ever gets you very far. These are people who copy and paste content from other people’s sites, change a few words (sometimes, but they do not always bother to do that) and then call it their own, morals and doing the right thing are obviously not high on their list of personal values. And they don’t expect to be caught, even if they are ripping off content from an Atlanta car accident lawyers website!

There are still two options available to you – complain to the offending website’s hosting company or ask Google to step in and help you.

Option One: Report the Content

A few large hosting companies are great. They will listen to your story and agree to try and help. You do need to be able to prove that the content was yours in the first place but that is usually not too hard as in order for the thieves to have ripped it off in the first place you had to have published it first and dates of publication are easy to establish. If the hosting company agrees that the content published by the site they host is indeed yours then they may remove the offending website right away.

Option Two: Google

Finding a hosting company this cooperative is not the norm though, so these days the best way to deal with a plagiarism problem is to let Google be the judge. The first step you will need to take is to complete Google’s DMCA complaint form (you can find it here).

Once the company receives it they will examine the evidence you have presented and if they find that you are correct the site owner is contacted and informed that the content – and possibly their whole site – will be removed under the provisions of the DMCA. The company does send personal progress reports to all that file such a complaint and most people find it to be a quick, effective process.

Google is still really cracking down on websites that just do not come up to scratch in the content department, so protecting your content is more important than ever before. To find out if yours has been plagiarized invest in some premium credits on Copyscape.com and input the content into their interface. If you have been a victim of content theft it will tell you so – as well as where to “find” the thieves in just a few minutes.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.