Branding Blog

Brand Asset Theft: What to do when someone steals your web content

Written by Dale Berkebile | Thu, May 16, 2013

Yesterday I had an interesting thing happen. I had Matt Roberge from SLC Bookkeeping contact me with an interesting question. His question went something like this…

So here is an odd question for you.

What would you do if someone copied your entire website and blogs, word for word, and put it on their site as their own?

Wow! This was a great question. I personally have experienced this on a small scale, but nothing to the extent that Matt was talking about. So I needed to do a little research to find out how to handle this. The first thing I did was go to the alleged site to review it. Sure enough the content from SLC had been lifted and place almost word for word on a few pages of this bookkeeping site. They just dropped the "Salt Lake City" references since they were in another city. Yikes! He's right, there were multiple places this happened.

Although, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as they say, this company was a little too flattering. This could actually get both companies blacklisted in google for duplicate content which could hurt search ranking. If online marketing is a big form of lead generation for your business development this could really be harmful to your business growth goals.

So what can you do about this? Well, the first step is to check your site to see if there are other people using your content. Go to Copyscape and use their free tool to test your site. Just add your URL and click Search. 

Here's an example when I ran it myself for Brandwise. Luckily it only found a second domain name pointing to my own site.

 

Rick Roberge (Matt's father) found a quick easy solution. As a 3rd party Rick posted on twitter something like: "Hey @slcbookkeeping did you see @xyz-company (name removed) plagiarized your content www.plagiarized-content.com". This goes to show you the power of twitter… even though this person was not active on twitter, they got the message and quick. This person called Matt apologized, blamed the issue on their expensive web company and then instantly took their site down to figure things out. How do you think that conversation is going to go, if in fact the web company stole Matt's content and then charged this bookkeeper for content development? Wow, I'd like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. The site is now a godaddy parked page. Wow! Again, powerful stuff. Can I just say Twitter Rocks!

Ok so what do you do if you do not have a 3rd party to work twitter for you? Here are 4 articles I found that were very helpful for other tactics that I'd bet would work, but might not work as quickly as Rick's technique.

  1. Extensive, but lots of good info on the topic and ideas for connecting with content thief as well as google info: What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content

  2. Same author, but focused on finding content thieves: Finding Stolen Content and Copyright Infringements

  3. Brief and to the point some additional tips beyond #1: What to do When Someone Steals Your Blog’s Content – Blog Plagiarism

  4. Good info on using offenders website host to deal with copyright issue: How to Protect Your Website’s Copyright When Someone Steals Your Content

 

As with any brand asset it is important to protect your content. Content is hard to write on an ongoing basis and so making sure you are not being plagiarized is important. I hope this article helps others figure out how to deal with plagiarism if it happens to them and also allows other to monitor their brand assets (web content) so they do not get blacklisted from google (or other search engines). Keep in mind if you do not want to manage this manually a few times a year, Copyscape also offers a paid version of their tool that monitors your site for you and sends you email updates if/when it finds content plagiarism happening. This tool is relatively cheap and might be worth looking into. With that, I'll end this article and wish you the best as you manage your brand assets - good luck!