[guest post by Simone Smith]

Discovering you’ve been stolen from is a nightmare. Being stolen from and not knowing it is even worse. There are people who will steal your marketing materials, unique copy, eBooks, articles, and guides – and some of them won’t even bother to modify them.

Simply posting these things online leaves you vulnerable to theft, but you can’t forgo your valuable communication tools. The best thing you can do is take a proactive approach to deter theft while monitoring any suspicious activity. If you notice theft, it’s simpler than you may think to get your contact back.

Place Visible Copyright Symbols

This one is simple, and it’s probably the first thing you’ve thought of. While it’s not necessary to do so for the sake of your ownership, placing visible copyright symbols on pages of content or images that you own will dissuade thieves. They’ll understand that you take your copyright seriously and be less likely to take the risk of nabbing your stuff. If you haven’t already, consider playing a copyright statement in the footer of your webpage to make sure all of your bases are covered.

Use WordPress Plugins to Protect Yourself

If your site is WordPress based, there are plugins you can use to guard your content. This is a double-edged sword, because the methods they utilize are extreme. These plugins will prevent the copy and right click functions from working on your website. While you can guarantee that no one can copy and paste your content, you could be doing a disservice to your readers. If someone wants to share your content on social media along with a snippet they find valuable, they’ll have to manually re-type that content. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of going this route.

Run a Copyscape Check

Copyscape is famously used by teachers and professors to make sure their students are handing in original work, but it can also work to make sure no one has stolen yours. It helps to run your content through Copyscape periodically to make sure it hasn’t been republished anywhere without your consent. Copyscape will also check match percentages, which will allow it to find versions of your content that have been slightly modified. No one will be able to pull a fast one on you.

Obtain a Creative Commons License

Obtaining a Creative Commons License is very easy, and completely free. The whole process only takes a few minutes, and it’s worth it. If you’ve posted content to websites like YouTube, you may find that you were automatically granted one with your upload. Should you need to use it later, your Creative Commons License will serve as proof of ownership.

Utilize Google Alerts

Google offers tons of tools for website owners. While these are most commonly used for SEO and tracking purposes, you can also use them for your protection. Enabling the right alerts will prompt Google to notify you when it recognizes your content posted somewhere it doesn’t belong. Their algorithm is constantly searching the internet to weed out spammy websites.

Issue DMCA Removal Requests

If you find that you’ve been stolen from, it’s as simple as sending a DMCA request to the content host. Your first inclination may be to send a strongly worded email to the domain associated with your stolen content, but that probably won’t get you very far. There are automatic DMCA complain generators, and it only takes a minute to draw up your complaint. Simply plug in your information, generate the complaint, and use a WhoIs search to determine the webhost. Go to the contact section of the host’s website, find a relevant email address, and send the complaint their way. Hosts take copyright violation very seriously, and your stolen content can be removed in as soon as 24 hours.

Simone Smith is a writer working at Online Courses Australia. She believes that inspiring company culture and good work-life balance are a key to success. She likes to cover stories on careers and business management.

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