You may have thought about streaming some Prince music yesterday in a wave of sadness and nostalgia in the wake of his death. If so, you were likely disappointed. The artist was vigilant about protecting his intellectual property.

Remember when Prince legally changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol? That wasn’t because he was just some quirky artist looking for attention; it was because he was fighting for his creative life against Warner Records.

For an artist, writer or musician, their creative work is their livelihood and the only product they have to offer. People don’t expect Starbucks to give away free cheeseburgers, so why should Taylor Swift give you her music for free?

But even for those in the business world, intellectual property theft is as damaging as smashing a jeweler’s display case and swooping up a handful of diamonds.

What’s The Business Lesson Here?

Your website is your virtual storefront, telling visitors who you are and what you do. You chose writers and designers that you entrust with your vision. You craft each blog post with the same care and attention to detail that Ron Swanson gives a chair.

Plagiarism Cuts Deep

If a competitor cuts and pastes copy from your site (or “paraphrases”), that doesn’t just make him a thief and a jerk, it could put many other people and businesses in danger. For example, his web hosting service could not only be told to take down the offending site, they could be forced to take down all the sites they host, impacting untold other businesses.

It Can Kill Your SEO

Website plagiarism not only robs you of your creative property, it also can hurt you on the SEO front. One of the factors SEO relies on is original content. If competitors have taken your copy and placed it on their sites, Google has no way of knowing that you’re the one who should be getting credit.

How do you know if your site has been plagiarized?

There are several sites that can help you detect or prevent plagiarism, but unfortunately, you have to be vigilant. Check your entire site with a service like Copyscape. You can also set up alerts to let you know when your site has been plagiarized. Individual snippets of web copy can be checked with a site like Small SEO tool’s Plagiarism Checker.

What can you do about copyright infringement?

In the US, your work is automatically protected by copyright law as soon as you create it. If you’d like to know a little more about your digital rights, check out the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

If you find evidence of plagiarized copy, prove that you produced it first by visiting the WayBack Machine, an internet archive cataloging the history of almost every website on the internet.

Once you’re confident that you have the high ground, contact the owner of the website and ask him to take down the duplicate content. If he fails to comply, your next resource is to contact his webhosting company (they will likely respond quickly to avoid liability) or go directly to Google and file an infringement notification. Check out Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to see what their process is.

If you’re looking for a firm that can produce great original content for your website, blog or other marketing materials, contact the team at Haley Marketing Group. We have more than forty marketing professionals eager to create award winning design and copy for your legendary business.

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