It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but can another’s lack of creativity come back to bite you?
Unfortunately, the answer is…yes. This past March, Google updated their definition of “duplicate copy” to encompass not just the traditional on-site connotation but also replicated copy living on different domains. And since Panda has now become an integral part of the algorithm, websites displaying the same copy are beginning to lose rank.
After working in the industry for 5 years, “borrowed” copy is one of the top ranking reported annoyances by content producers. After all, spending time, energy and resource creating your content only to have it reappear on some other site seemingly as their own, can be more than a tad obnoxious.
So, what can you do if your copy has been snatched?
1. Locate the culprits. Online tools like Copyscape are an excellent way to pinpoint offenders. Plus, the tool is free and super easy to use. Simply visit their website at www.copyscape.com, enter your URL, click “go” and get a list of all guilty parties. Copyscape even offers a comparison tool that allows you to analyze two web pages or articles via URL or text and see how closely they match.
2. Chronicle the infringements. Now that you know who is plagiarizing your copy, it is important to document it. Be sure to make note of which sites you find listed in step one. You can enter this information in a spreadsheet so you can easily go back and reference it. You can also use another very helpful and free tool, the WayBack Machine, that archives the internet all the way back to 1996. With the WayBack Machine, you should be able to determine approximately when the lifting began.
3. Contact the offenders. So, now that you have found and logged the imitators, it’s time to act. By drafting a request that is both polite and stern, you can let the site owner’s or Webmaster know that you are aware of the offense and are giving them an opportunity to correct it by taking the pages down or re-writing them within a realistic time-frame.
Chances are most violators will adhere to your request. However, in the event you are met with opposition you do have a few options. You can: contact your company’s legal representative for further assistance or file DMCA forms (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) with Google and Bing. After submitting these forms, your complaint will be researched and if it is determined that copyright infringement did in fact take place, Google and Bing will remove the offending copy.
All in all, the web is an excellent resource for content ideas and inspiration. But when inspiration becomes replication, and originality succumbs to idleness there can be a stiff price to pay.
So, play it safe. Write your own copy or enlist some trusted help. In the long run, I promise you’ll be glad you did!