June 29 2011 Editor Assistance Newsletter
Summertime is a quiet time on the web, and this is a perfect time to do a sweep of all your web projects and handle any thefts that have occurred. Copyright theft happens all the time on the web. It's one of those things you have to accept when you're a web writer. It's sort of like being a musician and having your MP3s stolen. You accept it goes on, and you pick and choose your battles for dealing with it.
On BellaOnline we have an easy to use plagiarism checker which will help you use Google to track down any incidents. On your main admin menu, click on "Plagiarism Checker" on the left. This goes article by article through the site and looks for matching content on the web. Really, all this is doing is looking for the beginning phrase of your article in Google, with quotes around the phrase. So you can easily do this same thing for any non-BellaOnline articles you want to track as well. It's a good practice to get into, to do this every few months.
When you find violators, the key is NOT to get upset about it. Content copying happens very frequently. If you know any high school teachers they'll tell you it is rampant. Life is too short to waste any angst or energy on someone who cuts-and-pastes content. The key here is to be calm and professional. The moment you let angst creep into your letters, the thief will get defensive and often refuse to take action just to rile you. You want to avoid that.
Right on the plagiarism checker is a link to how to track down a copyright violation. Follow and read the link. It connects to a sample cease and desist letter you can use. It connects to an excel tracking spreadsheet you can use. It also connects to instructions on how to copyright your content. I *highly* recommend you copyright your content each summer. Again, this is the quiet season. Dump all your content on a CD and send it off to your country's copyright office. It's cheap, and it helps ensure that when you write the thief that you have a threat that they'll listen to.
Copyrighting your content also ensures, if you do manage to get a thief and ISP who firmly entrench and resist your efforts for some bizarre reason, that you can probably get a lawyer to represent you for free, since you'll be getting tens of thousands of dollars as your reward for your efforts. But again, if you've filed, most ISPs will give in rather than face that guaranteed penalty.
So again, the key here is to not get upset. It's simply not worth it. Fill out your spreadsheet. Work week by week. If you get to the month mark where you've sent two letters to the website, two to the ISP, plus phoned the ISP, and even though you have a copyright on file they are refusing in the face of a $25,000 fine, it might be time to throw a party. Because that'll be a fairly substantial windfall you'll get once your lawyer is through with them.
Please read through the pages on copyright tracking and let me know if you have any questions!
Lisa Shea, owner
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