Welcome to Part 2 of my series of copyright infringement posts, which is being hosted in conjunction with Jennifer at Literate Housewife - please visit her blog to see what she has to say on this subject. Part 1 of this series was called “Copyright Infringement: What Is It?”. Please note that this is not legal advice - this is just the information I have found while searching the internet and consulting a lawyer.
So now you’re wondering whether your content has been infringed - how do you find out whether someone is stealing your reviews or posts? There are a few tools you can use to discover it very quickly.
First, though, you need to have a copyright notice on your blog. Make sure you have something that says all review and blog posts are copyrighted by you and cannot be reused without your permission. I also have this as a footer in my RSS feed for each post. (This isn’t technically necessary - whether you have this on your blog or not, if someone steals your post, it’s copyright infringement. This is just a good idea).
Once you have that on your blog, here are some ways to see if anyone is illegally using your content.
This might sound deceptively simple, but a quick Google search can do wonders. Every once in awhile, pick a random review and paste some of its text into Google with quotation marks around it. For example, from my review of Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai:
“It is only natural that she should sacrifice her prospects in order to care for her brother, because he is the beloved son and she is a burdensome daughter. The portrayal is nuanced and beautifully written, and it will make the reader’s heart bleed for Uma.”
If you find the text on someone else’s website and you haven’t given them permission to use it, it’s pretty clear someone is copying your content.
But let’s face it, who has time to copy and paste every review into Google? I certainly don’t. That’s why I use some automated tools to make the process a lot easier.
Google Alerts are critical for finding copied content when it comes to (a) spam blogs and (b) people who have copied your content and provided a link back to your site, thinking they don’t need your permission to use your content. Google Alerts will conduct any search you specify and return results, either in a digest or in real-time, via email or RSS feed.
To set up copyright infringement Google Alerts, visit http://www.google.com/alerts. On this page, you are prompted to type in the search term you want to track, as well as type (I chose Everything), how often (I chose as-it-happens), volume (I chose Only the Best Results), and deliver too (I have it come to my feed reader).
You’ll want to create at least two alerts. First, one with your blog name in it. The second, should be the URL to your website. The one with your blog name in it will catch spam bloggers stealing your RSS feed, while the URL will catch those who have copied content and provided a link back to your site. Unfortunately, Google Alerts aren’t 100% reliable, so you’ll probably also get alerts when people have you in their blogrolls or join challenges/memes you host.
So this covers the people who steal your RSS feed or link back to your site. But what about those that don’t? This is where things get a little more complicated.
There are a few sites out there that will scan the entire internet and let you know when it finds posts that are plagiarized from your blog using the full text of your posts. This is really handy for those people who don’t steal your feed (so there is no link back to your blog) and are actually flat out stealing your content and not even linking back to you. I use Fairshare, mainly because it does a thorough job and it’s free. In the first step, you enter your blog’s RSS feed URL - note that’s NOT your regular blog URL. The second step is to tell Fairshare how your content can be used. In my case, I used the first option - that I don’t license my content, I just want to know where it’s going. Finally, you have to create an account. Once you do, you can either choose a weekly summary of what Fairshare finds or the regular feed that delivers the information as it happens.
So this covers text. But what about someone illegally using the pictures from your blog?
I haven’t used TinEye very often, but my husband uses it a lot to protect his pictures. You have a choice of uploading an image to them or just using the image’s URL, and you can see who (if anyone) is using the image. It won’t show you if someone is using your stored book covers on their blog, leeching off your bandwith, but if you have unique photographs, this is a great way to see if anyone’s been using them.
Each of these methods has its limitations, but used in conjunction, they’re a pretty comprehensive way to protect your intellectual property.
That’s it for today’s post. Friday, I’ll cover what you can do once you’ve found your content copied onto someone else’s website.