The Internet has brought so many wonderful things to the world. Information and news are at your fingertips and have never been easier to access. However, for anyone who creates anything, the Internet can seem more like the Wild West. Content Bandits are raiding and pillaging websites for creative content that they can turn into their own without attributing it to you.
Content Bandit (n.) – useless Internet moochers who steal whatever they can to use as their own without giving proper credit.
These content bandits roam the Internet landscape looking for anything and everything they can claim as their own. It can be brutal the first time you have your intellectual property stolen. It’s like being betrayed by your best friend. “The internet would never do this to me!” Unfortunately, it will. Here’s the good news, though, you can protect yourself. Most of us don’t have RIAA-level money, so you won’t find any litigation tips here. These are several easy steps you can take to ensure that your intellectual property remains just that, yours.
This first one goes out to the graphic designers out there. You guys and gals most certainly have it the toughest. Images are among the most common stolen intellectual property. Part of the problem can be there are so many tools available for finding images. When searching for inspiration, that perfect color scheme, or the funny cat photo your friend hasn’t seen yet, Google images and Flickr remain a godsend, but Content Bandits, unconcerned with the ethical treatments of the search results, can have a field day. You’ve worked very hard to get your website at the top of relevant search results and this is your reward, you’re now a probable victim of theft.
A good watermark can help deter this kind of behavior. Use your name or logo and imprint the photo with that mark. Placement is key:
- If you put your mark over a large swath of similar color, the Content Bandit can easily Photoshop it away with a few clicks.
- If you put your watermark too close to one of the edges the Content Bandit can simply crop a few pixels off and use the rest of the image
- You want the watermark to be obstructive enough to deter the Content Bandit’s manipulation, but also transparent enough to still showcase the image. It’s a fine balance, but with some patience you’ll get it right.
We like the way sites like istockphoto or graphicriver use watermarks. They are the best in the business because they’re in the market of selling graphical images, and without good watermarks, content bandits would snatch up their only product.
2. Embed Your Content
This next step also applies to photographers but can be equally utilized by writers to stop Content Bandits from doing what they do best. Embedding your content can make the work non-selectable and therefore virtually unstealable. I say “virtually” unstealable because if the Content Bandit wants it bad enough, they will find a way. Screenshots will always be a last resort to them: they’re not overly focused on quality, that’s why they’re Content Bandits.
3. Tag it With Appropriate Restrictions
Depending on your content, you may want to designate it All Rights Reserved or Creative Commons. Familiarizing yourself with these copyright restrictions will help you defend yourself in court if someone steals your intellectual property. For the safest bet, designate your content All Rights Reserved, but if you are okay with individuals quoting you or republishing you (while attributing the content to you!), this can provide great publicity and a reason to utilize a Creative Commons license.
There are several available Creative Commons licenses to choose from:
- Attribution, which allows modifications of your work and commercial use of your work
- Attribution, which does not allow modification of your work but allows commercial attribution
- Attribution, which allows modifications of your work only if the modification is released under Creative Comments and allows commercial attribution,
- Attribution-NonCommercial, which allows modifications except for commercial purposes
- Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs, which allows no modifications of your work and no commercial use of your work
- Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, which allows modifications so long as the new work is shared under Creative Commons and is not commercial
You can select your preferred CreativeCommons license and learn how to implement it on your content by visiting the Creative Commons website.
Resources For Further Reading
1. Detect Plagiarism Of Your Content (For Text): copyscape
2. Detect Plagiarism Of Your Content (For Images): tineye