How to protect your content online

How to protect your content online

As a content creator, what would be your worst nightmare? There’s a good chance it would be finding your works online without your permission. Even if you can’t be entirely protected from an unscrupulous individual who’s willing to do anything to use other people’s works (or, more likely, a content hosting site that doesn’t know any better), if you take a few precautions, you can limit the risk of another Web platform appropriating your creative efforts.

Some content protection tips

Date your content

Although you don't need to register your works in order to benefit from copyright protection, adding the date can prove you published your work before any other publications that are apparently unauthorized. The date is an important factor in proving you originated the content. For example, you can simply add the publication date at the beginning of an article, as we’ve done here.

Add the © symbol

It's true the © symbol isn't needed for copyright protection but by including it, you’ll be reminding the audience that the content is copyrighted. Since the symbol is universally recognized, users can’t claim they don’t know what it means. You can insert the symbol as a watermark in the image or at the bottom of your Web page.

Indicate the terms of use

By specifying the terms of use for your website, you can make it clear to users that you own the content and your permission is needed to reproduce or share it. Refer to the Copibec site's terms and conditions as an example. This is a good opportunity to clearly indicate how to request permission and where to reach you by email. It’s important to remember that the content published on your website belongs to you and you’re free to decide the applicable terms of use.

Important: Certain exceptions in Canada’s Copyright Act may apply. Plus, the rules may vary from country to country, which means that copyright infringement may not be applicable if your content is being used outside Canada.

Deactivate the copy and paste function

When you deactivate the right-click function on your Web page, anyone who’s poorly informed or has malicious intent will be prevented from copying your content and pasting it somewhere else. Of course, there’s no effective way to stop screen captures but the quality of the captured images will be much lower than they would be if the content was copied and pasted. Blocking the copy/paste function can also discourage potential content thieves. It’s possible to deactivate the right-click function by using JavaScript coding.

Important: This method also has a downside. Even though it can discourage people from sharing your content, it can also make it difficult for them to reference you legally. Moreover, the most savvy (and persistent!) users will be able to get around this protective measure.

Search for your content online

Now that you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect your content, it’s time to test the effectiveness by searching for your content in places other than your website, social media or other online sharing tools. There are different ways to check. Here are a few suggestions:

Use Rights Manager

By using Facebook's Rights Manager tool to declare that you own the distributed content as soon as you upload it to your page, you can stop your content from being shared, monitor how it’s shared and used by other pages and even claim a share of the revenue generated by unauthorized sharing. Keep in mind that this tool is available for Facebook page administrators and applies only to content shared on Facebook, not other locations on the Web.

Create a Google alert

Use Google Alerts to create an alert by entering a subject that’s relevant to you, such as the titles of your works and your name. You will then receive an email outlining Google search results whenever your content has been shared by anyone other than you. Google also allows you to stop, limit or change how your content is shared.

Try plagiarism detection tools

Copyscape and Positeo are good examples of plagiarism detection tools. All you have to do is enter your URL in the search bar to see whether your content can be found anywhere else on the Web. (FYI: Positeo is available only in French.)

Do a reverse search

It takes just a few clicks to check whether the images on your website or social media appear elsewhere on the Web (and where). In the Chrome browser, right click your image and select “Search Google for image”. Google will show you all the sites containing your image. You can also go to Google Images, click the “Search by image” (camera) icon and then select your image file from where it’s stored.

Despite all these precautions, if you’re unlucky enough to find that your creations appear in an authorized location, you can ask the site administrator to take your content down. Don’t let concerns about plagiarism dampen your creative spirit!