Your business blog and web site content is valuable. You’ve worked hard or paid good money to get it up online, but there are thieves waiting out there to steal your intellectual property. Whether it’s written word, audio (podcast or other,) or even images — you must protect your material from theft and hijacking.
While not every post you create on your business blog may be Copyright worthy, there are some things you must be aware of with even short reference posts. And when it comes to your longer articles — you absolutely MUST make every effort to protect those from being abused.
Here are just a few things that can happen when your good content gets hijacked by bad people:
– Your articles can be blatantly copied into another blog or web site with no reference or link back to you as the source.
- Obviously, someone is claiming your hard work as their own in this scenario. While this is the most egregious of intellectual property theft, it’s not uncommon. We have had to issue at least three cease-and-desist letters in the last 6-months for this type of violation.
– Your RSS feed can be picked up by automated search bots and used to help populate web pages created by software programs for marketers looking to make money with Google Adsense. While this may not seem like a major threat, those are not the type of sites you want your content associated with. To people who land on those sites, it looks like you are a willing participant and promoter of those garbage sites.
– Competitors can copy your sales letters and web site copy to use on their own sites. They think with a little “tweak” or “twist” here and there in the wording they can justify that they’re not stealing — but they are. This type of theft is infuriating, but the good news this type of copyright infringement is easier to catch than you might think. (I’ll share a resource with you in a minute that can help.)
How to protect yourself against intellectual property theft, “on the cheap”
Obviously you want to employ and leverage word of mouth marketing and have your articles spread virally across the web. But without the right copyright protections in place, your content could be spread all around and no credit be given to you.
So here’s a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself and the intellectual property of your small business.
1. Include a formal copyright statement at the bottom of your Web site template so it appears on each and every page of your business blog or web site. And for added “teeth” — provide a link to your site use policy. This may not scare away hardened thieves, but it does give you the legal basis to initiate legal action against perpetrators. (refer to the bottom of this web page for an example.)
2. Include a customized copyright attribution line at the bottom of every post with your authors tag (refer to the tag at the bottom of this post for an example.) A great resource to help you customize the required “legalese” is Creative Commons. At www.CreativeCommons.org you can sign up to create you own customized copyright protection tag ranging from no use restrictions at all, to fair use with complete attribution, to no use without permission. This is another added layer of protection and another leg to support you legally in going after any violators. Best of all this resource is free.
3. Insert a hidden copyright tag in your articles or web pages. All you have to do is embed a line such as “(c) 2005 – RPM Success Group Inc. – all rights reserved” in white-colored font in the article, post, or web page. At the very least, this is an easy way to prove to an offender that they’ve hijacked your material. And as an added bonus, you can enter that exact search string into Google, Yahoo, or Google Alerts and find out whenever someone posts that content — with or without your permission.
4. Set your blog to publish only introductory excerpts of your blog posts instead of the article or post in it’s entirety. This will help to stem the hijacking of your posts and article by those by not revealing your complete content. Readers will be forced to visit your blog to read the content instead of getting it on some automated bot site.
5. Use Copyscape.com to quickly see if any Web page tracked by Google search is copying content from a particular page of your site or blog. They also have a great little “for fee” service that you can use to protect your most valuable content (like sales letters or major articles) at http://www.copyscape.com/products.php.
With these five simple no-cost action steps you can help protect your intellectual property on the net and give yourself plenty of legal grounds to stand on when going after copyright violators.
Enjoy! And make it an awesome day!