Quality Web content takes time and hard work to generate. Or, it must be purchased. So, there is nothing worse than having your quality Web content stolen and prospered from by someone else.
Content thieves are out there, stealing bits and pieces of your well-constructed paragraphs or just helping themselves to whole pages that you spent entire days thinking up and laying out.
How can you catch these thieves? There are three main methods:
Method 1: Since all Web content has a unique text order, you may use Google and its exact-phrase feature to locate pages duplicating those words. In order to do this, copy and paste a portion of your content into the Google search box. Place quotation marks around the phrase and then do the search. Only pages that match that exact phrase will be returned to you. You can look these pages over and see if there is real theft involved.
Method 2: Because the whole idea behind stealing is to avoid hard work, many Web content thieves are lazy and will just copy all your source code. If you place a hidden link in the middle of a long paragraph, it is likely that this link will go unnoticed by the thieves as they copy your content. Here is an example link that may be used in CSS, with the display field set to “none”:
The trick to placing a hidden link in your content is to make it legitimate by search engine standards. To this end, you need to include the style code and link text; otherwise, most search engines will consider your link an illegal hidden link.
With this link now embedded in your content, you may use Google to find pages that contain it- and all these pages will have your stolen content.
It is also wise to create a page that contains the exact page name you created. In this way, search engines will not display your content page has having a broken link.
Method 3: The third method for catching content thieves has nothing to do with search engines, but relies on your own content pages. Look through your content carefully and, where it is busiest, insert a transparent GIF. Use the full URL of the image so that the image can fully transfer to the potential thief’s Web page. In this way, should someone copy your content code, the transparent GIF will be called up by your server and to the thief’s own page.
To find out where the GIF has been transferred, check your own Web site log files. This will alert you to just where that GIF is being used.
Once you find your thief, what can you do? As a first attempt, serve a notice to the Web site owner that the material being displayed is copyrighted and therefore illegal to display. Be courteous but firm.
If the Web site owner does not reply or remove your content, or you are incapable of finding him/her, then go to a search site called www.whois.net, which will allow you to find the site owner and contact that person directly.
You may also use Who Is to find the offending Web site’s hosting company. You may refer to the hosting company directly, alerting the company that one of its customer’s is violating copyright law.
If all else fails, you can file a notice of Digital Millenium Copyright Act infringement with various search engines and other directories. They will usually remove that Web site from their databases. Just be sure to send a “Cease and Desist” letter to the owner of the offending Web site first before you file this notice.
How do you prove that you were the originator of the stolen content? A site like http://web.archive.org can help you, since it shows dated proof that your Web content preceded the thief’s Web content.