“What’s yours is yours, unless I want it,” has been a phrase that has haunted the internet for quite some time. By now, a majority of people are familiar with the problems of, and arguments against, piracy. They address the issue of “intellectual property,” which is commonly framed with music, movies, and images. What most bloggers don’t take into consideration, however, is that their blog articles are their intellectual property as well. They soon become aware of it when they are plagiarized for the first time. What do you do about it, if anything at all?
As a blogger, if you spent every waking hour attempting to track down possible plagiarism, you may end up losing a great deal of time to no benefit whatsoever. Bloggers have their content copied, altered, shared without credits, and other such activities on a very consistent basis. Ironically, it is less likely to be a problem if you are a very popular site; readers who identify your content right away tend to avoid sites that copy your posts in the future, and warn others to avoid them as well. Everyone is looking for the genuine article, and nobody likes knowing they’ve just been the victim of a bootleg.
While the ethical arguments against infringement of this nature can be discussed, one main piece of interest you may want to have in this topic is the effect that it can have on SEO. Search engine optimization doesn’t just scan your site in a vacuum; it examines other sites of a similar nature. More relevantly, it scans your content to see if it is original or not. If it detects that there are several sites which have the same content, one of those sites is going to ge ta lower ranking accordingly. You obviously want that not to be your site, as you are the content creator.
More established sites will not have as big of an issue with this, as they naturally have a higher ranking than those that copy their content. If you’re a professional content creator, and this is your livelihood, then you may have an obligation to take action.
Another important fact to take into consideration is that original content isn’t easy to produce. If it was, people wouldn’t be copying yours. You may have invested hours, days, or even weeks into an article. Is it right or fair that someone else just takes it to reap the rewards from traffic built on the back of the work you’ve done? Most people would say, “No.” Consider what you’ve invested into creating your content, and then consider whether or not it would be worth pursuing action against those that infringe upon it. As mentioned, if you have a high enough profile, this will not be as much of an issue for you. If, however, you are still attempting to build your online presence and your reputation, it may be in your best interest to protect your identity, and your presence, now.