This week after I wrote about content mistakes on websites, Karen wrote me from Great Blue Pools with a question. She asked:
….. if I put all my content on the blog vs a pdf page, how can I make sure my website content is protected from plagiarism? I have a copyright phrase/stamp at the end of each of my articles, which are posted on my blog in pdf form. Thanks in advance for the help. Karen
This was a good question. The fear that someone will steal your ideas/photos/articles/etc stops a lot of people from blogging at all. The idea usually goes . . .
If I give my information away for free why would anyone want to work with us or buy the book or whatever ….
If we put our information out there, our competitors will know our secrets and steal them.
Sure, people can copy words from a PDF file or from a website and they can also copy images and remove the watermark if they are hellbent on stealing content. Hiding content in a PDF file punishes your honest readers who want the information without having to stop and download a wordy PDF file. It also punishes your website by limiting your ability to come up in a Google search for content hidden in the PDF.
My answer to the worry about protecting your content is that it is much more likely that your business will whither away in obscurity if you hoard your proprietary information, than someone might steal it.
Adding fresh, interesting and helpful content on your website, on a regular basis, is THE main way your website will get found in the search results in 2015. Once someone finds your website, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. Give people a reason to work with you by showing who you are and what you do. Showing that you’re an expert by writing blog posts is more effective than telling your readers you’re an expert.
There are things you can and should do to deter plagiarism. Karen said she was using PDF files as a way to protect her content on the web by putting her company’s copyright information on the bottom of the PDF. Just so you know, you can also have a copyright statement on your website that will protect your site.
You should put a copyright notice in a visible place on every page of your website such as the sidebar or a widget in your footer. An article by WordPress.com, Protecting Your Site from Content Theft suggests this text:
© [Full Name] and [Blog Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Blog Name] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Creative Commons Licensing
There are other licenses other than copyright. They are often referred to a copyleft options. You can check out Creative Commons Licensing that allows you to spell out the ways that you will let people reuse or share your content under certain conditions and with attribution back to you. Since many people are ignorant of the legalities of sharing or even referring to other people’s content when writing their posts or social media updates, it does help to educate them. I mean don’t you want your content to be shared on social media? You just need to tell people how you’d like them to do it.
Here is a video explaining Creative Commons:
How would you know if people have used your content?
This post from ProBlogger shows five ways of checking to see if people have “scraped” your content for use on other sites. You can also check for instances of your images showing up around the Internets. Tin Eye is a reverse image search engine, that tells you where images are, how they are being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if higher resolution versions are out there on the web. They claim they are the first image search engine to search on the image itself rather than using the meta data associated with the image.
A lot of people think that if they remove the meta data from images that they get from a Google search they are safe from being caught from using it on their website. With programs like Tin Eye, you can see that this is not the case. If you use other people’s images illegally, you can be in for an ugly surprise. Read what happened to this small company who was caught for unintentional copyright infringement.
In response to your worry, Karen, can someone steal your content? Yes. Will they? Maybe. Will it hurt your business? Probably not. The bigger problem to your small business is not making your content easily accessible to potential customers.
If you do add lots of good, helpful content to your website, the right people will find you and want to work with you and you’ll be so busy that you won’t have time to worry whether people are stealing your content.