Burglar stealing a laptop
Not that long ago, I came across a website that had copied one of my blog posts without my permission.

Ouch!

It’s not the first time. In fact the site owner thought he was doing me a favour by copying it and adding a small link back to my original when what he should have done was ask me if he could use it (there are 11 ways to connect with me on my Contacts page!).

Oh wait, that takes time and effort.

Unfortunately, this happens a lot online. From people innocently copying an image from Google without realising the legalities, to the plain lazy who would rather nick stuff than spend time writing their own.

When that happens, asking the perpetrator to remove it is usually all it takes. But this can be tricky if there’s no obvious way to make contact through the offending website. (I used Twitter, naturally!).

The next step is threatening them with legal action. Yawn.

If this happens to you try and remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – don’t let it ruin your world. You need to continue doing what you do without wasting all your energy on it, despite how frustrating it can be.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about some nifty free tools that can help protect your online property and save you the hassle of trying to get it removed if someone steals it.

Here are four fast (and free) things you can do to protect your property from thieves online:

  1. Include the copyright symbol on all pages of your website and your content like e-books and PDF downloads. This will deter those who innocently think it’s ok to copy your stuff without realising it’s an infringement.
  2. Use Copyscape a duplicate content checker to search the internet for copies of your web or blog pages. You pop your page address in the search box and it will scan the web for copies. Note that it searches each page individually not a whole website.
  3. If you have a WordPress site try a plug in called WP-Copyprotect. This ‘locks’ your blog so text and images can’t be highlighted, copy and pasted. This works on the assumption that anyone wanting to steal your blog post or text from your website will be too lazy to re-type it out for themselves.

    I think it’s a pretty good deterrent although I don’t use it myself as I’m always copying text from my website to use elsewhere and this plug in would stop me from doing that!

    It may be a good solution for you if you want a hassle free way of protecting your online property.

  4. Protect your online products, photos and images using a Creative Commons license. You can get one set up in seconds for free to protect ebooks, images and other materials for that extra bit of security.

So what about you?

Do you use any of these tools? Do you have other ideas for protecting your stuff online? Let me know by leaving a comment below!