I’ve had two incidents this year where someone stole my content from the web and claimed it as their own. The content was not related to my fantasy novels, but it could have been. The nature of the internet makes it easy for people to copy your stuff and present it as theirs. But don’t worry, you can protect yourself in the same way I did with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)… and without a lawyer.
How to Prevent Your Work from Being Copied
Sorry, there is no magical way to keep this from happening. Digitalizing text may help somewhat and adding watermarks to photos may also help. Be sure to clearly state that it is your work and to indicate it is protected by copyright.
How to Tell if Someone Has Copied Your Work
There are a number of websites which can help you check to see if something you have put online has been copied. One such website is Copyscape.com. So if you put a synopsis or a portion of your book online for a review, copy the URL where it is located and paste it in the space on the Copyscape website. Copyscape may give you a list of websites which have duplicated your content. Click through each one to verify. Another way is to do a Google search. Copy and paste some of your content, with quotation marks around it into the Google search field and check the sites which pop up.
When Copying Information May Be Okay
I found much of my information for this article in a HubPages article titled, How to File a DMCA Complaint. Please note that even though I gave you the same information they did, I did not cut and paste. I put it in my own words and I gave them credit by mentioning them and linking to them. If someone has duplicated your content, click through to see if they gave you credit and linked to your novel. If they did, this could actually be helpful to you depending on how much they duplicated.
What to Do if Someone Duplicates Your Work
If you find work which should not have been duplicated, find the Contact Us page on their website and send them an email. The HubPages article I previously mentioned tells you exactly what you should say. If you don’t know who to send your email to, the HubPages article also tells you how to find out.
How to Get Your Stolen Work Removed
If you do not get a response to your email, the next step was a lot easier than I expected. When I found that someone had duplicated an article I wrote, I went through Google Support and filed my DMCA complaint. If you find that you have to file such a complaint, be as thorough as possible with providing Google the duplicated information. Submit your complaint and wait. When I reported my duplicated article to Google, they handled it within 5 business days. I found they not only deleted the page where this website had my article, they blocked their entire website!
I also found a video on YouTube that had used a photo of my dog. This might have been okay except it was a photo of my dog Maya wearing her dog car harness and I use this photo to promote and sell this same dog car harness on a website I own, PetAutoSafety.com. Since they were using my photo to sell a dog car harness from their own website, I contacted them to have them remove it. And since they did not respond, I reported it to YouTube who had the video deleted within 5 business days.
When Copying Photos May Be Okay
Just because an image is one the web does not mean it is free for your use. If you are using images in your novel, be sure you get permission to use those images. And be sure to give credit for those images to the proper source. You can also buy your images from BigStock.com or other such sites.
I love how easy things can be on the internet now-a-days. For one, it has helped me get my fantasy novels published. But there is a risk that someone will steal my work. Thankfully, Google and YouTube have made it easy for me to do something about it.