Building a blogging business is a lot of work. You spend hour after hour creating content that will help your audience that you can be proud of. So, what happens when another blogger steals your blog post? Or, what if they steal ALL of your content? That's why you have to know how to protect yourself as a blogger.
The 3 steps to protecting yourself as a blogger are:
1. Have a lawyer that you know and trust
2. Always have a disclaimer or notice within your product
3. Purchase the domain that matches your name
What is content scraping?
Let's me tell you a little story. It's actually more of a nightmare really. A few years ago I had a "student" that purchased one of my courses. Everything seemed legit.
However, shortly after, she came out with something that was identical to what I had created. The colors and fonts had been changed, but all of the tactics, strategies, and hard work that I had put into the course had been copied and pasted to her website.
I was shocked! In a panic, I called a blogging friend and told her what had happened. I couldn't believe someone had the nerve to do something like that. To my surprise, she had had the exact same thing happen to her from the EXACT same person!
When it happened to her she turned to another blogger at that time, and the same thing had happened to that other blogger with the exact same person as well! This woman would access the information of an established blogger, copy the information and slap her own brand on it. She did it to some other bloggers after me as well. It was a nightmare to deal with!
That was the first time that my faith in the humanity of the online world was shaken. This is content scraping—copying someone else's content and publishing it somewhere else. You absolutely cannot take someone else's information and call it your own. It's stealing! But it happened all the same.
How can you stop content scraping?
This got me thinking about what I could have done differently. To be honest, there wasn't a whole lot. Your hands are tied when it comes to being a blogger because people can just copy and paste your content. But there are a couple tips that I recommend for protecting your blog and your name online.
1. Have a lawyer that you know and trust
This doesn't necessarily mean that you need a lawyer on retainer. It just means that you should know the name of a good attorney that you can contact if you run into problems. It can also be helpful to talk with them about the legal side of starting a blogging business to make sure you have all your ducks in a row.
You can even work with a site like Legal Zoom to make sure you have all the legal issues in order for your site. They have a ton of legal information for bloggers on this page.
2. Put disclaimers and notices on your products
There are always going to be people out there that don't seem to have the same moral compass. So, you have to think way ahead of them. And that's one reason why you always want to have a disclaimer or notice somewhere within the products that you create. You want some kind of lingo along the lines of:
"No part of this online course or its content may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means. "
"You cannot create your own product using any of the content presented in this product. Failure to comply will result in legal action by the course creator."
It needs to be clearly stated because a lot of people don't know anything about copyright infringement laws because working in the online world is new for them. Common sense tells most of us that you cannot copy and paste stuff from someone else's work, but some people just don't have it.
3. Purchase the domain for your name
This tip comes from a situation that I started hearing about this past year. Bloggers have found that websites are being opened in their name. Then, the content from their blog is being stolen and put onto this other website. So, it looks like the content is coming from them, but the site is being operated by someone else.
Let me explain. Imagine that I didn't have this website and only had the bloggingbusinessclub.com website. And that's where I posted all of my blog posts and products. Then, another blogger purchased the allisonlindstrom.com website, copied all my content from the Blogging Business Club website and put it on the site they opened.
When they do this, they take all the hard work that I did and benefit from it. Then, this other "blogger" can make ad revenue and money from the content that I created. And if my readers stumble upon this new site they will see that it's my personal name and my content and believe that it's me.
Remember you always have to stay ahead of the dishonest people. So, if you have the money to do it, buying the domain with your name will help you with protecting your name online. Even if you aren't going to put anything on the site you want to buy it so no one else can use it. I probably own somewhere around 20 different domains because I'm trying to protect my brand.
You can always buy your domain through whoever does your website hosting. Or, check out GoDaddy.com (affiliate link). I've found them to have reasonable prices. And don't forget to get the handles with your name on social media too.
Set up a Google alert
Setting up a Google alert won’t stop someone from stealing your content, but it will can help alert you once they do.
I read about a blogger that creates a Google alert every time he creates a new blog post. Sometimes he uses the title of his blog post in the alert. Other times, he uses a certain sentence from within the post.
If you are unfamiliar with Google alert, it’s a free service from Google that will alert you any time there is content that you are interested in. So, say you set up an alert for “paleo recipes”, every time new content comes online with that phrase, you’d receive an alert with the links.
There are plenty of options you can select to make sure you aren’t getting bombarded with emails all day long. The last thing you want is to flood your inbox. But if you are using the name of your blog post it’s a good way to keep tabs on your content.
If you receive the notification you can go check out the post to see if the new post is actually identical to your post. If it is, you can file a DMCA complaint.
What is a DMCA complaint and how do I file?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) helps you protect your content. If you notice that your content has been stolen these are the steps you need to take:
Take screenshots of the content that has been copied from your site or products. You want to make sure that you have these saved somewhere so you will have proof going forward of what happened.
Contact the blogger. Sometimes a simple email to the blogger that stole your content will take care of the situation. If a new blogger really didn't know this would be a problem they will quickly take action to avoid legal action. If they don't take immediate action then continue on with the next steps.
Find out who the website host is. Hosting companies take it seriously when there is a site they are hosting with stolen content. To find out who the host is you can visit a site www.whoishostingthis.com/. You can enter the domain in their search tool and see what it says for server properties.
Find out who to send the notice to. Once you have the host company visit their website and find out what email to send a copyright claim to.
Write your notice. You will need to include the screenshots of the work that the blogger stole from you, state very clearly what happened and how they infringed on your content, request the information to be immediately removed per DMCA laws, and your contact information along with your signature. Google "DMCA complaint template" and you will see plenty of examples.
Want more help protecting yourself as a blogger?
If you want to learn more about the legal basics you should be following to make sure you're protecting yourself as a blogger, I have a lesson in the Bloggers Business Club. You can also check out my YouTube channel where I share tips and strategies for growing a blogging business.