You’ve worked hard to build your business and spent countless hours developing a product and Web site you’re proud to share with your customers. But what happens when sharing crosses the line into stealing? It’s not only frustrating, it can be downright harmful to your business to discover that a competitor has pirated your copyrighted booty.
Whether it’s as “harmless” as someone copying a paragraph from your home page or as damaging as stealing your software code, your copyrighted online content is valuable and must be protected. There is no 100 percent failsafe method of keeping your content from being plagiarized and copied, but by taking these steps you’ll make it difficult for thieves and help ensure that your copyrighted content stays where it belongs.
Step 1: Start with the Basics
Stealing online content can be as easy as dragging and dropping highlighted text or images from your Web site onto the thief’s desktop, so make it hard. The following are some simple solutions to this problem:
- Protect your images by using low-resolution copies on your Web site that will become distorted if used elsewhere and also embed watermarks that can’t be removed.
- Convert downloadable files into PDF so that text can’t be easily copied or changed.
- Embed HTML code that protects your source code and disable the ability for users to right-click and copy or save text from your Web page.
Step 2: Use Protective Software
Displaying a copyright notice is another important basic step but it doesn’t protect your content until it’s already stolen. Just as placing a “no stealing” sign in your store window doesn’t deter all shoplifters, neither will a copyright notice give determined content lifters a scare.
Keep your intellectual property safe by installing protective software that will keep it out of the wrong hands. Here are a few companies that can help:
- Digital Containers: Delivers digital content to your customers in a protective container that keeps it safe from hackers or unauthorized distribution
- LockLizard: Protects your PDF documents, Web content, and software from unauthorized use, copying, printing, and distribution
- Aladdin: Combats software piracy with copy protection and secure licensing
- Oracle: Secures and tracks sensitive digital information wherever it’s stored or used, including the end users’ desktops, laptops, and mobile devices
- Brainloop: Protects confidential documents that are viewed outside your company’s firewall
Step 3: Set Up Alerts
When you can’t keep intruders out, a “burglar alarm” will at least keep you notified. While these aren’t marketed as burglar alarms, these two alert systems are widely used for just that:
- Google Alerts: Sends an automatic e-mail every time a Web site is published that contains keywords or phrases that match your content
- Copycentry: Protects against plagiarism by automatically monitoring the Web for copies of your Web pages and sending e-mail alerts when they appear
Step 4: Be Proactive
Periodically check out your competitors’ Web sites to see if they’ve “borrowed” your copyrighted content without permission. Conduct a search on Copyscape, a free, easy-to-use service that searches the Web using your Web site URL and finds every Web site that uses your content, whether it’s illegally copied or simply quoted.