Copyright Infringement: How Do I Find It?

Welcome to Part 2 of my series of copyright infringement posts, which is being hosted in conjunction with Jennifer at Literate Housewife – please visit her blog to see what she has to say on this subject.  Part 1 of this series was called “Copyright Infringement: What Is It?”.  Please note that this is not legal advice – this is just the information I have found while searching the internet and consulting a lawyer.

So now you’re wondering whether your content has been infringed – how do you find out whether someone is stealing your reviews or posts?  There are a few tools you can use to discover it very quickly.

First, though, you need to  have a copyright notice on your blog.  Make sure you have something that says all review and blog posts are copyrighted by you and cannot be reused without your permission.  I also have this as a footer in my RSS feed for each post.  (This isn’t technically necessary – whether you have this on your blog or not, if someone steals your post, it’s copyright infringement.  This is just a good idea).

Once you have that on your blog, here are some ways to see if anyone is illegally using your content.

Google

This might sound deceptively simple, but a quick Google search can do wonders.  Every once in awhile, pick a random review and paste some of its text into Google with quotation marks around it.  For example, from my review of Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai:

“It is only natural that she should sacrifice her prospects in order to care for her brother, because he is the beloved son and she is a burdensome daughter.  The portrayal is nuanced and beautifully written, and it will make the reader’s heart bleed for Uma.”

If you find the text on someone else’s website and you haven’t given them permission to use it, it’s pretty clear someone is copying your content.

But let’s face it, who has time to copy and paste every review into Google?  I certainly don’t.  That’s why I use some automated tools to make the process a lot easier.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are critical for finding copied content when it comes to (a) spam blogs and (b) people who have copied your content and provided a link back to your site, thinking they don’t need your permission to use your content.  Google Alerts will conduct any search you specify and return results, either in a digest or in real-time, via email or RSS feed.

To set up copyright infringement Google Alerts, visit http://www.google.com/alerts.  On this page, you are prompted to type in the search term you want to track, as well as type (I chose Everything), how often (I chose as-it-happens), volume (I chose Only the Best Results), and deliver too (I have it come to my feed reader). 

You’ll want to create at least two alerts.  First, one with your blog name in it.  The second, should be the URL to your website.  The one with your blog name in it will catch spam bloggers stealing your RSS feed, while the URL will catch those who have copied content and provided a link back to your site.  Unfortunately, Google Alerts aren’t 100% reliable, so you’ll probably also get alerts when people have you in their blogrolls or join challenges/memes you host.

So this covers the people who steal your RSS feed or link back to your site.  But what about those that don’t?  This is where things get a little more complicated.

Fairshare

There are a few sites out there that will scan the entire internet and let you know when it finds posts that are plagiarized from your blog using the full text of your posts.  This is really handy for those people who don’t steal your feed (so there is no link back to your blog) and are actually flat out stealing your content and not even linking back to you.  I use Fairshare, mainly because it does a thorough job and it’s free.  In the first step, you enter your blog’s RSS feed URL – note that’s NOT your regular blog URL.  The second step is to tell Fairshare how your content can be used.  In my case, I used the first option – that I don’t license my content, I just want to know where it’s going.  Finally, you have to create an account.  Once you do, you can either choose a weekly summary of what Fairshare finds or the regular feed that delivers the information as it happens.

So this covers text.  But what about someone illegally using the pictures from your blog?

TinEye

I haven’t used TinEye very often, but my husband uses it a lot to protect his pictures.  You have a choice of uploading an image to them or just using the image’s URL, and you can see who (if anyone) is using the image.  It won’t show you if someone is using your stored book covers on their blog, leeching off your bandwith, but if you have unique photographs, this is a great way to see if anyone’s been using them.

Each of these methods has its limitations, but used in conjunction, they’re a pretty comprehensive way to protect your intellectual property.

That’s it for today’s post.  Friday, I’ll cover what you can do once you’ve found your content copied onto someone else’s website.

Comments

  1. This is so timely because yesterday my spam filter (on wordpress) caught a link-back to my latest review. I’m not aware of it happening previously but who knows? I set up google alerts according to your directions. Thanks for walking me through it!

  2. This is so timely because yesterday my spam filter (on wordpress) caught a link-back to my latest review. I’m not aware of it happening previously but who knows? I set up google alerts according to your directions. Thanks for walking me through it!

  3. Wonderful post again! I created an alert for my URL (I already had the others), changed the copyright wording on the bottom of my blog (copied yours to be honest), and I opened a Fairshare account. I feel armed and ready, so to speak. Thank you!

  4. Wonderful post again! I created an alert for my URL (I already had the others), changed the copyright wording on the bottom of my blog (copied yours to be honest), and I opened a Fairshare account. I feel armed and ready, so to speak. Thank you!

  5. this is exactly the information I was looking for. I already knew about google alerts, but that’s because I use those for work. These others sites are helpful.

    Thanks.

  6. this is exactly the information I was looking for. I already knew about google alerts, but that’s because I use those for work. These others sites are helpful.

    Thanks.

  7. One of my twitter friends told me that if my reviews are posted on amazon or Goodreads (maybe other sites) they are public – can be posted elsewhere unless I “unchecked” a box at GR (which I just did). Goodreads box allows my reviews to be posted by their partners: indies and big box stores alike. I didn’t know that!!

  8. One of my twitter friends told me that if my reviews are posted on amazon or Goodreads (maybe other sites) they are public – can be posted elsewhere unless I “unchecked” a box at GR (which I just did). Goodreads box allows my reviews to be posted by their partners: indies and big box stores alike. I didn’t know that!!

  9. I get quite a few pingbacks from spam sites and don’t know what to do about them. Sometimes I wonder if anyone would see an email if I asked them to take the post down.

  10. I get quite a few pingbacks from spam sites and don’t know what to do about them. Sometimes I wonder if anyone would see an email if I asked them to take the post down.

  11. Great information! I just signed up for Fairshare and will be keeping an eye on it. I had no idea a service like that was available — awesome!

  12. Great information! I just signed up for Fairshare and will be keeping an eye on it. I had no idea a service like that was available — awesome!

  13. Thanks for the info! I’ve been thinking about putting a copyright somewhere on the blog (even if it’s just “this is mine, coping is bad” or some such)…I should just go ahead and do it as well as the alerts and such! 🙂

  14. Thanks for the info! I’ve been thinking about putting a copyright somewhere on the blog (even if it’s just “this is mine, coping is bad” or some such)…I should just go ahead and do it as well as the alerts and such! 🙂

  15. Fairshare and TinEye are news to me. Great resources!!!

  16. Fairshare and TinEye are news to me. Great resources!!!

  17. This is so useful – thank you! I have noticed unusual referring sites (including FB) in my stats program and am now convinced that they might be stealing my feed. Looking forward to getting to the bottom of it!

  18. This is so useful – thank you! I have noticed unusual referring sites (including FB) in my stats program and am now convinced that they might be stealing my feed. Looking forward to getting to the bottom of it!

  19. I keep meaning to add the copyright text but keep forgetting. I will do it soon though.

    I have google alerts but I don’t have an account on FS yet. I should remedy that. Thanks for your effort in putting this together.

  20. I keep meaning to add the copyright text but keep forgetting. I will do it soon though.

    I have google alerts but I don’t have an account on FS yet. I should remedy that. Thanks for your effort in putting this together.

  21. I need to work on my google alerts because they catch almost nothing so maybe that’s something I should do this weekend based on these tips – thankyou!

  22. I need to work on my google alerts because they catch almost nothing so maybe that’s something I should do this weekend based on these tips – thankyou!

  23. I didn’t know about TinEye — thanks!

  24. I didn’t know about TinEye — thanks!

  25. Thanks for the FairShare tip! I just signed up.

  26. Thanks for the FairShare tip! I just signed up.

  27. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

  28. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

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