August 2, 2010

Your Blog, Your Work, Your Property: How to Protect Your Blog from Plagiarism

I can't believe today is Day 16, and the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge is already half over! I am still having a great time, although I've fallen a little behind on the tasks in the past few days. One of the best things about this challenge, though, is that now I have the e-book as a resource. I can complete the tasks again as many times as I want to, and for any I didn't put a huge effort into, I can do them again when I have more time. It's great!

The challenge for today is to write a post that solves a problem for your readers. This can be a great way to draw new traffic, as well as solving your own problems and providing great information to reader. I can't wait to see what all of the other ladies in the challenge come up with, hopefully they'll solve some problems for me!

Maintaining a blog is effectively a means of self-publishing material online. The internet gives us a wonderful forum to share our words, and to many bloggers the things we write are a little piece of who we are, and mean a lot to us. One of the challenges that can face us, especially as our blogs grow, is how to protect our writing from plagiarism.

Protecting Your Material

If you were an author writing articles for a newspaper, or writing books, you would do everything you could to protect your materials. Any book you pick up, whether it's full of essays, poetry, recipes or a novel, has a copyright notice in the front of the book letting people know that the author own that material. Along with this copyright come protections that tell people how and when they are allowed to re-publish the materials.

eHow has a great article about how to copyright and protect your blog. This list mentions several places that it might be good to display your copyright notice.

At Blog Traffic Exchange, you can find a great article about how to physically add your own copyright to your blog. Adding a copyright will not prevent people from copying your work, but it will alert them that what they're doing is not allowed. This takes away the excuse of 'I didn't know' from anyone who wants to copy your work.

If you host your blog on Wordpress, you could use a plugin like Copyfeed. Just do a search for plugins, and you're likely to find one that you like and is easy to work with.

A more extreme option is to disable right-click on your website. This will prevent people from copying and pasting content directly from your page. You should keep in mind, however, that this prevents any right clicks, including opening a link in a new window or tab. Some web surfers may be turned off by this limitation on their viewing.

For more considerations, check out this timely article published today on the Problogger Blog. The Content Producers Copyright Checklist is a great resource for bloggers thinking about how to protect their work.

Creative Commons

One way to help make sure your material stays your own is to post a copyright notice on your blog. Creative Commons is a great resource for bloggers, photographers, and anyone who posts material online. From their website:

"Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.

We provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof."

At, you can read about how to license your work, and what it means when others license their work. The great thing about a Creative Commons license is that it allows you to copyright your work, but gives people permissions (under conditions you choose) to copy or distribute your work as long as it's credited back to you.
To get more information before you license your work, you can visit Creative Commons article 'Before Licensing' about things to consider along the way.

Sharing Your Work

If you want people to know that sharing your work is okay as long as they follow certain guidelines, the more guidance you give them, the better.

Sandy from The Road To Fabulous had a great suggestion, which she shared on the message boards at BlogFrog. Sandy said:

Many of the articles I write in my ezine and on my blog contain this little paragraph at the end:

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sandy Grason is a Rock Star Author, Int’l Speaker & Hot Mogul. Get on the Guest List for Sandy’s next Virtual Cocktail Party®, gain access to private videos, articles, tips, tools and strategies. Get Fabulous Free Gifts including: 60-minute mp3 download “The Manifesting Mojo Class” where you’ll learn how to rock your manifesting mojo now at

Usually that helps-then if they want to use it, I get more traffic and subscribers. However, if someone is intent on stealing your stuff, they'll find a way to do it.

Breathe, keep focused on the awesome stuff that only YOU can create and know that karma is a bitch.

If Plagiarism Happens

Despite your best efforts, it is possible someone will decide to be dishonest and copy your work.
What should you do if you think or know your work has been stolen?

If you suspect that your work has been copied, one resource is Copyscape. At their website, you can enter your web address or the web address of a specific post, and they will search for infringement. The provide a free plagiarism detector as well as premium services including batch searches and case tracking.

The first step if you find your content has been copied is to contact the author of the post that has stolen your material. Sometimes, they may not realize they've done something wrong, especially if they're new to the blogging world. Let them know that you would appreciate that they either take down your work, or link and give credit where it's due. In some cases, this may solve the problem.

Unfortunately, there may be cases where the response is less than positive. Another option is to contact the host site. If the material has been published in a forum or on a site like Facebook, contact the administrators and let them know of the infringement. If it's hosted on Blogger, Wordpress, or another service, you may be able to notify them and they may be able to remove the material or contact the person who published it.

PS In reading this blog, you may have noticed something missing - I don't have a copyright notice anywhere! I had one at one point, but when I changed templates it must have disappeared. So, there's another tip - make sure if you change designs or templates, all the little things get transferred over. I'll be sure to have a notice up very soon!


Todd X. said...

Nice. I like the Creative Commons idea.

Maureen said...

These are awesome tools to protect our blgos for sure. I had use Copy Scape before and Creative Common. Will check out the link from ProBlogger. Thanks Rachael!

Gemma said...

Interesting post, I'll be using this advice in the near future no doubt :)

Barbara said...

I read ProBlogger's post this morning and the 1st thing on my list of 'to dos' for today was to check out copyright for my blog. You pretty much answered all the questions I had with the links you provided! Thanks so much! Now I have to figure out a problem I can solve and pay it forward.

Lynda said...

Awesome, informative post Rachael!

Beth Zimmerman said...

Another great post full of awesome tips! Thanks!

Kristin said...

Thank you for stopping by Windy Poplars and saying hello! You should TOTALLY go get fitted. The right bra size with change your life :-)! Or at least what you wear, and how you wear it (and make a bid difference on posture and back problems too). I enjoyed this post on copyright info. Thanks for all of the information! Hope you're having a lovely day, ~Kristin

Tamsin Oxford said...

Hello! I have uncovered you through your lovely comments on my blog (THANK YOU!) and I love your site. I particularly love your name, it makes me giggle. Consider yourself followed and loved fellow SITS lady.

Rachel said...

thank you

Jen said...

Great post! Thanks for all the great info. I can't believe this is the first I've gotten over to your site. This whole challenge has been amazing but I can't seem to keep up with actually posting to my own site and then visiting everyone else's.
You've been such a great resource for all of us at SITS and BF. Keep it up! You are appreciated.

Melissa {adventuroo} said...

Wonderful post! I recently set up Creative Commons but had no idea about Copyspace! Luckily, I'm in the clear but I bookmarked that so I'll check back every so often.

Thanks for the tips!

Mrs.Mayhem said...

This is such a great post. I recently switched themes, and my copyright notice vanished. I need to install one ASAP. Thanks for the great advice!

Dot said...

Thanks for the informative, helpful post! I found it through Blog Frog/SITSGirls Challenge discussion. is another popular tool that I've just started trying out.

Melissa(ConfessionsOfaDr.Mom) said...

Thank you for this post Rachel, it was very helpful to me. I have a question for you: If another site copy and pastes my post (with picture) and uses it on their web site but does give me credit, is that plagarism? I'm not sure how I feel about them using my whole post w/o permission. Other sites have shared my post but they didn't use the whole post, they linked back to my site which I thought was a nice way to do it. What do you think?
Thanks so much!

Rachael1013 said...

If another site copies your post and doesn't give any credit, that is
absolutely plagiarism. That's someone stealing your words and material that
you've written and own. It's really not cool. When I take parts from other
posts, I always put them in quotes and do something like italicize or change
the color as well as giving credit and linking back to the original

*Rachael Heiner*
Scientific Nature of the Whammy
*Nurturing the spirit through writing and community; exploring the moments
that make life a joy*

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