Plagiarism – how to catch the copycats!
Sadly, a couple of SVA members had problems with virtual assistants copying their sites (see forum topic https://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/svaforum/viewtopic.php?t=2099). You automatically have copyright over any original material you create, so you are well within your rights to request this is removed from their site. It also has a knock on effect for your Google ranking – Google penalises sites that have duplicate content from other sites because they aren’t original. So it’s important to get this resolved ASAP.
Very quickly here is a 7 point plan to protect yourself:
- Use www.copyscape.com to check your site is not being copied. Run this check at least once per month or use their Copy Sentry alert service (about $5/month).
- Make sure that your copyright is clearly stated on your website using the © symbol your name and date it was created. This gives a visual reminder that your site is not a free content provision service!
- If you find duplicates of your site, approach the website owner either via their Contact Us page or using a Who Is domain lookup like www.whois.net. State clearly that you believe they are in breach of copyright and give them 10 working days to remove the material before you take further action.
- If you get no response, contact SVA who will block them from the organisation and also send the VA a request to have the material removed. We will also forward this request to several other VA organisations so that they block them too. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – do not publically name-and-shame on the forum, however tempting that may be!
- Once 10 days are up if they have still not removed the offending material, send a cease and desist letter from your lawyer via registered mail.
- Contact their webhost and point out they are hosting copyright infringed material on the site.
- If all else fails, change your website copy so that their duplicate doesn’t infringe on your Google ranking.