What would be a content creator's worst nightmare?
There’s a good chance it would be finding their works used without permission.
This article outlines various steps you can take to limit the risk of discovering that your creative content has been used online in places it shouldn't have been.
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 of first publication can prove you published the work before any subsequent 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.
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 page, together with "All rights reserved".
This is a good opportunity to clearly indicate how to request permission and where to reach you by email.
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 online, anyone who’s poorly informed or has malicious intent will be prevented from copying your content and pasting it somewhere else.
It's difficult or even impossible to stop screen captures but the quality of the captured images will be lower than it would be if the content was copied and pasted.
Blocking the copy/paste function can also discourage potential content thieves.
Important: This method also has a downside. Even though it can discourage people from sharing your content without permission, 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 online.
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 checkers. All you have to do is enter your URL in the search bar to see whether your content can be found anywhere else online. (FYI: Positeo is available only in French.)
Do a reverse search
To check whether your images appear in other locations online (and where those locations are), right click the image and select "Search Google for 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 unauthorized location, you can ask the site administrator to take your content down.
Don’t let concerns about plagiarism dampen your creative spirit!