FPContent theft is a big problem for any website that invests in high-quality, unique content. If you pay someone to blog for you, the last thing you want is to see that content stolen or spun.

Despite grave warnings of Google penalties, there are still rogue publishers who make a quick buck by sealing content from other sites.

Article spinning and content theft are both hard to detect, but there are some tools that will help you protect your investment in the content you publish.

Use a Content Theft Checker

Content theft checkers scour the web to find cloned content and near-exact matches. Finding this content is the first step in taking action and forcing the thief to remove the content from their site:

  1. Copyscape is perhaps the most well-known free duplicate content checker. It’s quick and easy to check a single page: simply paste in the URL and Copyscape scans the web for copies. I performed a test scan using my People Per Hour blog, and Copyscape found a blog comment that was a 63% match. Someone had cloned my post and inserted their own links; Copyscape was still smart enough to detect it. Copyscape can scan pasted text for web duplicates, and it can scan your entire site using a Batch Search. For this, you’ll need to purchase Premium Credits: one credit per page. Copyscape credits are very reasonably priced, with 100 credits costing $5.00. (Note that your credits will expire if they’re not used within a year.)
  2. WebConfs.com offers a free Similar Page Checker. Paste in the original URL and the URL of the copy, and it will compare the two. This doesn’t scan for copies, but it can help you to quickly assess a piece of content that you believe is spun or plagiarised.
  3. Plagium checks for duplicate content in a similar way to Copyscape. However, it has a few nice features that are different: it can scan news sites and social networks, for example. You can also adjust the matching algorithm to make it stricter or more relaxed. Plagium is free but donations are accepted.

Set Up Content Theft Alerts

If manual checking is troublesome or impractical, some services will monitor your site and periodically flag up likely copies of your content. Some of these services are not free.

  1. Google Alerts is a good, yet basic, content monitoring service. Set up an alert for a unique sentence in a blog post (in quotes), and Google will email you if that sentence is picked up in search. This isn’t practical for large sites, but it is useful if you need a free solution. We have alerts set up on our names, so each time content goes up that’s attributed to us, we know about it.
  2. Copysentry offers continuous protection against stolen web content. Copysentry Standard is a weekly monitor that costs $4.95 per month for 10 pages, with each extra page costing $0.25/month. Copysentry Professional monitors pages daily and costs more. If you publish one blog a day, the cost of Copysentry can quickly build up. However, if you’ve invested in a lot of long, high-quality posts for a campaign, it might be a price worth paying.

Found Content Theft? Deal With It Now

Before you pursue someone and accuse them of stealing your content, make absolutely sure that it hasn’t been used under a fair use clause (for example, you may have accidentally applied a Creative Commons licence in your RSS feed).Then work through this action plan:

  1. Email the publisher. Some businesses employ freelance bloggers and never bother to check that the blogs they supply are original. Checking content is a time-consuming process, and sometimes a blogger that starts out writing high-quality content can slip into bad habits and trick their client. Often, a simple email is all that’s needed to get the content taken down amicably. (If you can’t find their email address, run a Whois query on their domain).
  2. If your emails go unanswered, file a DMCA takedown notice. It doesn’t matter if you and/or the thief are outside the US: all that matters is that the stolen content is hosted on a server in the US. This DMCA Takedown Generator does the hard work for you.
  3. Get the content removed from Google. The Google DMCA Dashboard is designed to make content removal simple and straightforward. It’s also free. Filing a report is quick and easy, and if Google finds that the content has been stolen, it will remove the duplicate from its indexes.
  4. Email the administrator, if the content is on a forum. If a whole page has been copied — and particularly if there is no link back to your site — you have a legitimate claim for removal. If email doesn’t work, add a reply to the post pointing out the original source.

Any Duplicate Content Tips?

Have you used any other duplicate content checkers, monitors or tools? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear about them.

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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley has been a technical author and web content writer at Red Robot since 2010. She contributes to dozens of websites, focusing on consumer technology, online privacy, digital marketing, and small business topics.
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6 thoughts on “9 Ways to Detect and Deal With Content Theft

  1. Great tips! I would always first take a screenshot – always handy to have as a proof. What you can also do once you’ve noticed content theft is to ask for a link back to your original article. This way you can improve your Google rankings – at least theoretically.

  2. Another service called iCopyright is based in Seattle, Washington They offer self-service republishing tools that you can embed on your pages/blog entries, so people CAN be legal if they choose to. Most options are free with ads, while others can be ad-free if the republisher pays. Interesting model, and it also includes content theft monitoring that’s probably similar to what you describe above.

  3. Absolutely agree with the list.
    The DMCA Dashboard is an incredible way to take back a modicum of control and let content thieves know they won’t get away with it.
    Recently had a competitor’s *entire* website delisted… talk about them losing money in sales and traffic!

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