Marketers need to understand their rights – and how to take action – when their online content gets copied.
During a discussion about copyrighted material on websites, one of my clients – an attorney – told me about a program called www.copyscape.com. I ran some of my website pages through the program and found that two consultants had copied two of my most popular articles – The Truth About Trade Shows and Why Can’t Sales and Marketing Just Get Along?. I consulted with an IP attorney who told me that I had no legal recourse since I had not registered my articles with the U.S. Copyright Office.
I did send cease and desist letters to the consultants and to an online publication that had published my article under one of the consultant’s bylines. The editor of said publication responded immediately, apologized profusely and took the page down. The consultants also took down the web pages containing my articles that they copied – one said they had hired a ghost writer and had no idea that person copied my work. The other simply apologized. This was in 2006.
As I’ve followed this topic of online content rights over the years, I’ve found out that there is more you can do. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 gives content owners the right to send an official notice to the copier’s online partners. So, in my case, if either of the consultants had failed to respond and take down my content that they copied, I could have contacted Google and the consultants’ site hosts to demand that their page with my content be de-listed (Google) and removed from their server (site host).
Copyscape.com is free and considered reliable, according to a blog entry on Top Online Plagiarism Checkers by Search Engine Journal. Copyscape.com also has paid services that allow you to automatically monitor online plagiarism of your content.
Others have written on this topic, and some blog entries I found helpful include:
- How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Online by Michael Hyatt, Chairman, Thomas Nelson Publishers
- How to Protect Your Blog from Content Thieves by Jean-Baptiste Jung, Cats-Who-Code
- Dealing with Online Copyrights Infringement in Accordance with DMCA by Mukesh Mani of Orbiting Web.
I’m sure there is a lot more knowledge out there on this topic – please share your experience and information below.