Stop Web Plagiarists from Stealing Your Content

October 2004
by Reid Goldsborough

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How do you find out whether people are lifting content from your site and using it at theirs? You can search for unique strings of text from your site via a Web search service such as Google to uncover other sites with the same content. You can buy a pricey infringement-detection program or hire a public relations firm to do the detective work for you. And you can try a new free service called Copyscape (, which makes tracking Web plagiarism easier.

Although the practice is fairly widespread, Web plagiarism is clearly wrong as well as against the law, a violation of both U.S. and international copyright provisions. It’s a fallacy that a Web site or page needs a copyright symbol (a “c” within a circle) to have copyright protection. (One exception to the prohibition against reusing the work of others on the Web is reposting small excerpts from someone else’s site when offering comments or criticism.)

Often, people caught plagiarizing the content of another site receive cease-and-desist letters from lawyers. But plagiarists can wind up having to pay damages, particularly if it can be shown that unauthorized use of another site’s content caused the owner of the infringed site to lose profits or enabled the plagiarist to gain profits.

The Copyscape Solution

I see Copyscape as a service that helps keep people honest. Launched in July 2004, it’s both clever and effective. Using it, I found a sit…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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