Imagine my surprise when a Google search pulled up another website that contained pictures and written content from my Cloth Diaper Guru blog. After looking around the website I quickly realized that material was copied word-for-word, entire posts were re-posted, and months worth of work was passed off as the author's own. Whenever you post content to the internet, there is a risk that it will be used unintentionally. What we don't appreciate is how frequently this occurs.
I personally know at least two other bloggers who have had content taken from their blogs. I heard of another blogger who had photos of her daughter taken (I wish I had the citation for this). The perpetrator was using the photos of the girl on her Facebook page and was pretending that she was her daughter. While the motivation for taking website content isn't always clear, any misuse of copyrighted information should be taken seriously. Of course this is always a reminder for everyone to use caution when posting anything, but we should not expect people to stop posting content to the internet.
For me, the most valuable content I have is my photography. I take special care to limit pictures that show my children and my family. This is obviously for our protection and to avoid the misuse of these pictures. People may wonder why a cloth diaper blogger does not post pictures of her children in cloth diapers. I personally feel that any benefit of showing these images (showing diaper fit) is not worth the risk of having my photos stolen. As unthinkable as it is, there are also individuals who seek out these types of images for their own fetishes. Besides limiting the number of family pictures on my website, I always watermark particularly special pictures with my legal name. I watermark the pictures in areas that make it difficult to crop and remove the watermarking (such as directly over the head). Other photography is watermarked with my "Cloth Diaper Guru" branding. Again, I watermark in a way that makes it difficult to crop out the watermarking. Photos are some of the easier content to protect, but written content can also be stolen.
|Watermark all photos posted to your blog. Watermark in a way that makes it difficult to crop-out the watermark|
When written content is stolen from a website, this is equally as damaging as taking photo content. My website started as a way for me to gain skills as a writer. I spend a lot of time coming up with content, editing the writing, and creating a clear story to help families in their cloth diapering journey. I want my website to be as informational as possible, but I also try to include some fun and personal content. Having written content stolen is frustrating, but it also hurts the reputation of my website and my Google ranking. Search engines do not like identical content posted on the internet and this inadvertently reduces traffic to the legitimate content. Many websites rely on measuring website analytics (high visitors, a good traffic flow) to support the site through advertisements or sponsorship opportunities. Lower traffic means reduced opportunities for sponsors, fewer giveaways, and less growth for the website. Stealing written content and re-posting it is incredibly damaging to the original website.
You can take steps to avoid having your pictures and writing used unintentionally, but they might still be taken. If your content is taken, you can take legal action against the site, report the offending site to the website host, or contact the offender directly. Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry suggests looking up the website on Who.is to identify the website host. In my case, the offending website was reported to the host and the site will most likely be shut down soon. This is a good reminder to keep checking your search engine results: search for unique phrasing on your blog. Look for images that come up in an image search (saving your pictures with a unique name can help). Take a proactive stance to protect your property and use careful consideration when you post content to your website.