If most of your traffic arrives via search and/or you seek to make a profit from your work, we recommend monitoring it for copyright infringement, as it is not uncommon for written work to be picked up by scrapers and published elsewhere online.
There are several alerts you can put into place, however you may wish to run additional checks on particularly important content (that which drives the most traffic) every 90 days.
Using Google Alerts to Monitor for Stolen Content
The most passive way to monitor for plagiarism of you work involves creating alerts (right before you publish it) that will notify you when duplicate content is found online.
To use Google Alerts to monitor your content for copyright infringement:
- Visit Google Alerts
- Enter a unique phrase (within quotation marks) from the middle of each important piece of content you publish into the search query box (thieves commonly re-write openings and closings)
- Leave “result type” set to “Everything”
- Set “How often” to “As-it-happens”
- Set “How many” to “All results”
- Leave your email (if you are logged into Google) as the “Deliver to” destination
You will be notified every time Google scrapes new content that contains that unique phrase. If you create an alert after the content has been published for a while, enter that same excerpt (still in quotation marks) into Google to search for any content that may have already been copied.
Checking Your Work for Duplicate Content
To monitor work that has already been published and to run additional checks on text that is particularly precious, you may also want to run manual a manual review on your work every 90 days or so.
The free way to do this involves using Google or a limited number of queries on plagiarism monitoring sites such as Copyscape, though should you like to run more thorough searches, you may pay for premium services from a number of sites, Copyscape included.
How to Check for Copied Content Using Google
Google enables you to quickly find specific excerpts of articles that may exist elsewhere online.
To run a quick check:
- Copy a unique phrase from the middle of the page you seek to protect
- Visit Google.com
- Insert that phrase (within quotation marks) into Google’s search bar and hit search
- Look for results (not your own) that contain your unique phrase
How to Check for Copied Content Using Copyscape
Copyscape enables you to search for copies of an entire article when you enter its URL, however the number of free searches you can run on the site is limited, so we only recommend using Copyscape for your most precious written pieces.
To check for plagiarism using Copyscape:
- Copy the URL of the page you wish to protect
- Visit Copyscape.com
- Paste the URL into the search bar
- Check for results with significant content overlap
Once you have reached your maximum number of free searches on Copyscape, you have the option to pay for additional searches (the price is currently five cents per search), however in most cases, regular and heavy use of Copyscape is not necessary.
Plagiarism Monitoring Services
There exist services that monitor entire articles (not just excerpts) for you on a daily or weekly basis, however unless you are extremely concerned about having your work stolen, we do not recommend spending money on them.
Should it be absolutely crucial that your work not be used anywhere else without your permission, we recommend using Copyscape’s Copycentry Standard or Copycentry Professional, which will review a certain number of pages on a weekly or daily basis for a monthly fee. That said, there are few cases in which such active review is necessary.
What to Do When Your Work is Stolen
Should you discover that someone has published your content without permission, we recommend:
- Contacting the offender directly (if possible) and politely asking the content to be taken down (or properly attributed, or purchased, etc.) within a certain number of days
- Sending a DMCA complaint to the offender, the offender’s platform, the offender’s website host, search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, and even submitting complaints with the offender's advertisers if action is not taken within that given number of days
For more detailed tips on addressing stolen content, stop by our dedicated guide to addressing violations of intellectual property rights.
Being Reasonable About Plagiarism
If the very idea of having your work copied and reused on the internet makes you break out in hives, we do not recommend publishing anything on the internet.
If you publish online, your work will be copied- sometimes maliciously, sometimes innocently, sometimes out of a desire to spread your message and promote your work. We have found the most sound approach to copyright infringement involves monitoring and protecting crucial, traffic-driving and money-making pieces of work while engaging in benign permissiveness with minor infractions.