Detecting on-Line Copying…

.♫ Copycat, copycat, copycat
copy copy copy everyone else….♫

Lyrics by Dolores O’Riordan and music by Noel Hogan and Dolores O’Riordan, recorded by The Cranberries.

Anyone who places content on the web should be concerned with detecting the unauthorized copying of their content. Certainly anyone with a blog would not want others taking their original content without their permission. This actually happened to my own blog just recently: In my case it was simply someone who was unaware of the rules around copyright.

But there was a case in Victoria British Columbia where a law firm had their web page copied for the purposes of supporting a fraud. The fraudsters virtually lifted the firm’s web site (using a slightly different web address) in order to help support their claim that they were working with this firm of lawyers. Of course they changed the law firm’s telephone numbers and other contact information in order that any inquiries to the ‘firm’ went to the fraudsters rather than the real firm, as the real firm knew nothing about the fraud or the fraudsters.

Accordingly how does one find out when your hard-wrought content has been hijacked?

There are Google Alerts: You can set up alerts for your firm’s web address, name of blog, names of those whose content is on your blog or website and other key words for the purposes of seeing who is referring to this information online. This will pop up those who have simply copied your content to their web-site or blog. This is useful for finding those people who may simply not be aware that they are taking copyright material. However, this is not the best tool for detecting where someone has lifted your content with absolutely no reference to you, your blog or website as the original creator or publisher.

Google Alert for Thoughtful Legal Management

Google Alert for Thoughtful Legal Management

To detect when your content has been lifted, you can still use Google Alerts by setting up an alert for each blog post or document. Here you would use a key sentence or paragraph in the document and use that as the search term. Granular, yes, but once set up, it is automatic.

In terms of finding your content there is and similar tools. When you use Copyscape, you enter in your web or blog address into the search engine and view the results. There is a free version and a paid version. There is also CopySentry, which for $4.95 a month (USD) will monitor the web for you and email you alerts when copies of your work appear on the web.

Considering how easy it is to copy content on the web, it is reassuring that there are also on-line tools and techniques that allow you detect such infringement of your copyright and allow you to take proactive action against the copycats.

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