Internet security basics
2023 Advice: How to Protect Website Content from Copying
No one likes to be ripped off. Entrepreneurs took pains in coming out with a website rich in content and features as part of their business investments. It would be frustrating, at the very least, if someone would simply copy it and reap its rewards. Before that happens to you, here are a couple of advice on how to protect website content from copying.
Advice #1: Secure a patent and trademark for all your creative work
I mentioned in a previous post that anything publicly known as “copyrightable subject matter” holds anyone who copies it accountable to the law. Thus, the first thing you need to do to protect yourself, your business, and your website content from being copied is to secure a copyright.
This includes securing a patent and trademark for all your business’ branding materials. This encompasses all creative materials such as images like your logo, literary work, videos, and audio that you originally made for your business.
According to Red Points, you can even go to the extent of copyrighting software or HTML codes uniquely used in or sold by your website. You can even get a trademark for your domain name in addition to your company’s slogan, color schemes, and other branding elements. These are the elements in your website you can protect.
There are, however, certain areas on your website that are not copyrightable. These are how it is designed or layouted, how articles or copy is structured, the pricing of products and services, and customer reviews.
Though a database that uniquely catalogs product information and pricing for comparative analysis used as a competitive advantage by a business for its services is an intellectual property right that should be protected. You can read more about intellectual property rights and how to legally protect your website here.
Advice #2: Create and implement a website terms and conditions
Once you have your patents and trademarks in place, the next best thing to do would be to formulate a Website Terms and Conditions. This will be uploaded either as a distinct section to it or part of your footer where the Website’s copyright often appears.
The Website Terms and Conditions serve as a notice for visitors on how you expect them to “behave” while browsing your website. It’s much like House Rules you implement in your physical office where it is indicated that any person including visitors will be apprehended for committing a crime.
The Website Terms and Conditions then publicly announce the specific contents of your website that are copyrighted. Through this, anyone who violates your terms would be subject to copyright infringement.
It also directs website users to follow your procedure of getting permission to attribute or use any part of your website first. In addition, this notification also serves as the basis for disabling your website’s right-click function should you pursue doing so.
Advice #3: Install software to your website
Since everything uploaded online is subject to be copied, it is virtually useless to disable your website’s right-click function. There is still a way to circumvent a website’s disabled right-click function, especially if the intentions of the user or website visitor are really malicious. An example is web scraping robots or applications that were created particularly to copy the content of a website. (But more on this later.)
Some organizations like WPEngine recommend disabling a website’s right-click function to avoid content from being copied. WordPress even has a Content Copy Protection and No Right Click plugin available to make it easy for their users to implement this if they do not have any background in programming.
Others even encourage disabling a website’s printing function or putting watermarks on images that will be used on a website.
These may be beneficial to a website but only in the short term since there are many hacks available online to circumvent these. Plus, implementing these on your website may mean frustration and inconvenience for your clients, which may affect repeat sales negatively.
You see, there is a good side to people copying content from your website. Particularly from loyal customers who would like to promote what you said or offer on their social media platforms. Other customers simply like to take down information such as instructions on how to use your product or services.
Thus, it would be beneficial to your business, in the long run, to just install software on your website that protects you from copyright infringement. One of this software is readily available to websites in WordPress called Copyright Proof.
Copyright Proof is actually a plugin that automatically displays a digital signature that certifies your website’s content is copyrighted. The plugin’s generated digital certificate would be useful as evidence of your content being copyrighted and your ownership of it.
You can also install DataDome to automatically protect your website’s content from web scrapers, which are software or applications with artificial intelligence designed to steal site data. Web scrapers pretend to be human beings who visit your website.
DataDome works by assessing how often and what percentage of your website’s traffic is generated by web scrapers. It easily assesses how vulnerable your website is to copyright infringement. It then blocks web scrapers, who create high website traffic as a diversion while stealing your content.
Advice #4: Amend your website’s robots.txt file
Finally, you could have your developer amend your website’s robot.txt files as an initial defense against web scrapers, which are also called scraper bots. This AI-equipped software would read the robot.txt file for it should contain instructions on how they are to behave on your website. However, some bots are programmed to ignore a website’s robot.txt file and simply proceed in their mission to steal your website’s content.
What are the consequences if I do not protect website content from copying?
There are many consequences to not protecting your website content besides copyright infringement. These are the loss of income, loss of competitive edge, and lower search engine optimization ranking.
1. Loss of Income
The number one consequence of not protecting your website content is income loss. Web scrapers can copy your customer’s data and use it to your competitor’s advantage.
2. Loss of Competitive Edge
Web scrapers can also copy your site’s pricing such that your competitor could easily adjust theirs to get more market share. Competitors could also copy the technology or techniques you have in place that sets your business apart in the market through the use of web scrapers.
3. Lower SEO ranking
As mentioned earlier, web scrapers can make you believe you have high site traffic and make it difficult for you to realize areas of improvement to attain higher search engine ranking.
Web scrapers also cause websites to frequently crash or to operate slowly. This affects not only your customers’ online experience but also prompts search engines like Google to rate your website poorly.
SEO rankings also are affected by duplicate content, such that yours may be regarded as one during searches despite being the original. When you are regarded as a duplicate, other websites may not use yours as a reference for their inbound links. These add up to your website having poor visibility online.
With these aforementioned consequences, I do hope you get serious about protecting your business from content thieves. I also hope you are not a victim of content thieves yet. To help you know if you are one, let me discuss next the tools that you’ll find useful.
Am I a victim of content thieves?
Copying content from websites is a widespread practice online. People do so for a variety of reasons from pure academic research to malevolent means of doing business. While most people are not aware it is illegal to do so because it has become a “culture” online, copying website content particularly unique to a business—copyrighted material—is illegal.
So anyone can steal not only your website’s content but your very website as well, aka hackers. To know if someone has already stolen yours, there are online tools you can use to check this. These are Google’s Duplicate Content, CopyScape, Grammarly, Duplichecker, Unicheck, PlagSpotter, Plagium, and Plagiarism Detector.
To use these, randomly copy several texts from your website’s page and paste them into any of these tools, which mostly check for plagiarism. Then run the tool as per the instructions provided to you on its website. I hope the results though turn out negatively for your peace of mind.
In Summary: How to Protect Website Content from Copying
Protecting website content is one of the crucial steps of a business in maintaining marketing position, customer satisfaction, and steady income. It requires securing, first of all, securing a business’s needed copyright protection and installing applications with a similar function.
Does this mean that the usual copy/pasting done by Netizens is illegal?
Yes, it is illegal on two conditions. One, if you are copying a big portion or chunk of website content. Two, if you did not ask permission to do the first condition. This holds particularly true when the material is copyrighted. Examples are movies and podcasts.
Would I be detected by a website if I copy and paste written material from it?
Yes, you may be detected if the website uses a plugin for it. There are some website owners who track the activity on their websites through plugins that track any attempt to copy material—including images—from them. This could be commonly experienced from websites with disabled copying functions.
If you have questions not listed here, feel free to message me! I’ll be glad to help you!
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My name is Ralph de Groot. I'm the founder and author at My Codeless Website. Wake me up for a great web design. I love writing about website examples, too!