I’m sure most people have heard of someone’s blog post or online content being stolen. However, unless it’s happened to you, it’s easy to assume that it never will.
Up until when my blog post was stolen in April 2017, I thought exactly the same. I was naïve and thought that my small space on the internet was not designed to attract people who wanted to steal content. My content wouldn’t be touched when they would get more traffic from stealing a bigger blogger’s content, right?
Wrong. I guess it’s easier to steal from smaller bloggers in some ways, because there isn’t the same backup from their readers when they find out. If they find out, that is. Even though I posted a few tweets about it when it happened, I felt embarrassed for complaining about it and deleted them.
For a while, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, especially as it was evident that I wasn’t the only blogger to be stolen from. The website focused on fidget toys at the height of the trend, so there was a lot of content to choose from. Especially as mine was stolen during Autism Awareness Month, when there was a lot of conversation about these toys.
There was no way to report this article and have it removed at the time, so I put it down to a learning experience. I have since made changes to my blog that I hope will enhance the security and lower the risk of a blog post being stolen in future. Of course, I know the possibility is always there, but I thought I’d share the ways I’ve minimised the risk with you guys.
DISABLE RIGHT-CLICKING ON YOUR BLOG
I must admit, when I first saw people doing this on their blogs, I didn’t really understand why. As someone who prefers highlighting to keep track of what I read, I didn’t know the benefits of doing this. I naively thought it was an overreaction in response to something that rarely actually happened.
However, my opinion has definitely changed since it happened to me. You might have noticed that I’ve even implemented it on my own blog. I did this simply by clicking on the plug-in section of my website, and searching for a disabling plug-in with good reviews.
I know it can be frustrating for some people who like to follow the text in a similar way that I used to. However, those who use it for innocent purposes have sadly had it spoiled by those who like to exploit it.
ADD LINKS TO YOUR BLOG POSTS
People recommend leaving links in your blog posts to encourage people to explore your blog, but it’s also a great way of detecting stolen content. Something content stealers aren’t very mindful about is removing the links in an article, or changing them to links on their own website.
When my blog post was stolen I received an email asking me to approve some ping-back links from another website. Without that, I would never have known that something I worked hard on had been reproduced on another website. I’ve done some research into stolen blog posts recently, and found out this is a pretty common way of finding out about it, so it’s definitely worth considering.
This also means that you can still benefit from the content that was stolen from you, by having links back to your own website. The blog who stole my content wasn’t very popular—they had comments on very few posts—which made me feel better. Knowing that there was the possibility of people being referred to my site through this made me feel slightly better.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
As a young teenager, I used to upload fan-fiction on the internet. As embarrassing as admitting that is, it did teach me a few things about protection of your content online. I’ve double checked this to make sure my thirteen-year-old self wasn’t deceived, but it’s definitely correct.
“When you publish something online, that content automatically belongs to you.” (Click to tweet)
This means that if someone steals your content, your protection allows you to have it removed. I recommend taking screenshots of the stolen content, including timestamps, in case you are blocked from the website in future. You can use this to prove that your content was written earlier than theirs, which should be enough to prove this content is yours. Of course, if the violation is as obvious as in my case, the links back to your own website should probably be enough.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that some companies do state in their terms and conditions that they have the copyright over the content you produce. This means that the content you write for other companies does not remain yours if it states otherwise in the terms and conditions. I don’t have much experience here, but it’s worth looking into if you guest post regularly.
Have you ever had a blog post or online article stolen? What did you do afterwards? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, and until next time,