Copyright Web Content: 5 Ways to Enforce a Web Content Copyright without filing a lawsuit


Updated Sept 2018

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You've invested a lot of time and/ or money into SEO content creation.

You want to know how to protect web content. You may be asking,

Do I need to copyright web content?

How do I copyright web content?

How do I enforce my web content copyright?

Those are all very smart questions. Whether we're talking about images, slogans, logos, videos, sales writing or SEO content writing, they're assets that belong to your company and yes, you own them. Either you designed and wrote them or paid an SEO content creator to do so.

In this article we'll discuss how to protect what's yours.

How to Copyright your web content

Copyrighting your content does not require hiring a lawyer or filling out forms for the copyright office. Every time an SEO content creator published content online in the US, a copyright is automatically applied to it. If you're using a website template, this copyright notification will likely be in the footer of your site.

This informs those who visit your website that all content on your site is under copyright. As a general rule, this means that content should not be used without permission. Having a copyright and enforcing a copyright, however, are two different things entirely.

How to enforce a web content copyright

A copyright cannot prevent the "stealing" of your content just like a lock on your door or even a fancy alarm system doesn't prevent a burglary. It only deters the burglar by making it a little harder to steal from you vs. your neighbor.

All businesses, inventors, creators, etc. who offer something to the marketplace worth having, are going to find themselves getting "knocked off". Imitation is the highest form of compliment. It means that someone else saw the value in what you created. The problem arises when someone else is earning money, fame, respect, praise, etc off your SEO content creation.

What a copyright does do is give you legal recourse to force the person who used your content without permission to stop using it, pay you for any gains that were related to your content and/or prevent their future use of your content without permission.

This requires getting a lawyer who will advise you on how to move forward. If your content is of significantly more value to you than the cost of hiring a lawyer, then it's worth it to you to hire a lawyer.

But if you are like most small businesses for whom working capital is limited, you must choose your battles, and filing a lawsuit every time someone steals a blog, video or image from you really is not an option. You can't afford to hire a team to protect your rights.

So here are your 5 effective ways to enforce copyright without lawyering up or filing a lawsuit.

  1. Ask nicely - many people don’t think they did anything wrong and if you ask nicely, they’ll apologize and take it down. Always try this first. It's just the right and civilized thing to do.

  2. Ask them to attribute it to you and your site with a do follow link - This is basically stating that this information is being used by them with permission. In most cases, this is actually helpful to you as it creates a link to your site (in most cases good for SEO), increases brand awareness ( they are helping you spread the word to their fans), generates traffic ( people follow the link to your site). Strongly consider whether you can turn your "enemy" into your "ally" by simply coming to a mutually beneficial agreement.

  3. Convincingly and professionally threaten legal action. Most people, at least in the US, have some healthy anxiety about getting sued. They know that it could cost them a lot of time, money and reputation. Most people would rather avoid the hassle.

  4. Add a right click message - There are widgets that you can add to your site that will say something like “ copyright 2016 leigh clayborne” when someone right clicks or performs the equivalent action on a device. The right click is disabled. This message reminds people that the information is copyrighted and at least makes people think twice. It also makes it harder to copy the text, although it is still possible. This is like a lock on your door. Someone can still kick the door in, but is it really worth it?

  5. Make certain information “members only”. You can create pages on your site that require the entering of contact info, before they can see the info. This helps you track who had access and gives people a higher sense of responsibility because they feel like they belong to a membership program. The downside of this is that these pages will be hidden from search engines. The search engine will only see the page where that links to the member only content, so you'll want to make sure that all of your SEO and key words are applied in the description.

  6. Invest in watchdog apps, many of which are free. Plagium, Plagiarisma, Copygator, Plagspotter are a few such services. You can search manually with these services or set your site up for regular monitoring to be notified when someone copies or very poorly re-writes your content.


Leigh Clayborne is a Hubspot certified freelance content marketing / SEO content writer & strategist with 10 years healthcare management experience on 15+ years creating content. She is a strong proponent of creating the right customer experience to meet business goals.

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