How To Protect Your Content From Being Copied

When you’ve worked long and hard on a piece of original content, it can be frustrating to find that someone else has decided to steal it. This is especially important in the world of search engines, where duplicate content is a surefire way to damage your SEO score. 

However, there will always be content thieves online looking to steal and use your images, text and video. Therefore, you need to have a strategy in place to protect your content. 

That’s why we’ve put together this practical guide to protecting your online content from being copied. If you’re a content creator looking to find out more—or just a business owner wanting to secure your organization’s content—keep on reading. 

What is online plagiarism?

Before we think about how to prevent and respond to online content theft, let’s explore what it is. Content theft—also known as online plagiarism or content copying—is when your social media or website content is copied and posted on another organization’s online channels. 

This can involve any form of content, whether it’s a viral TikTok video designed to market your products to a teenage audience or an in-depth guide to customer service automation software aimed at onboarding new clients. 

That’s because there will always be someone out there who could do with using your content rather than putting the effort in to create their own version.

This isn’t to say that every instance of unoriginal content is an example of online content theft. Sometimes, copying other content is acceptable, such as if you’re jumping on a commonly used trend on social media or using content that isn’t protected by copyright registration.

For example, many brands have created content that follows the “Choose your fighter” style video, featuring Above & Beyond’s Blue Monday mix. 

However, content theft is an increasingly common scourge on the online ecosystem. There are three main consequences of online plagiarism: 

SEO damage: We all know that SEO (search engine optimization) values unique, original content over anything else. If another website uses your exact text, they could rise in the rankings while you take a hit. This will reduce your overall SEO score. 

Traffic loss: When people search for something online, it is your content that drives them to look at your website. If your content is copied, users will be directed to multiple sites with the same content. It’s only logical that some will choose your competitors’ websites, leading to a reduction in your site traffic. 

Search engine sanctions: It’s possible that the search engines will see duplicate content as a sign that you’re not publishing unique content. This can lead to your site being placed under search filtering that is designed to root out copyright violations and content copying.

How to protect your content from being copied

We’ve now covered what content copying is and why you should want to prevent it at all times; but how can you make sure that your content writing is protected against being copied by your competitors?

Here are our top tips and steps to follow for protecting your content:

1. Know how to find out if your content has been stolen

A lot of what you need to do to protect your content is reactive, so you need to know whether your content has been stolen in the first place. 

A simple way to do this is by using the search engine like your target audience. Just input the title of an article that you suspect might be being plagiarized into a search engine and manually look through the articles.

However, this can be a pretty dull and time-consuming process. To speed this up, you can use tools like Google Alerts. This will alert you every time that a specific or unique bit of text from your article features on another website. 

You might also want to use a specific plagiarism detector. This will automatically scan the web for other sites that are copying your content. Although this will require a fee, these are specifically designed to help protect your SEO value. 

2. Get in touch (politely)

Once you recognize that another site is using your content, you need to get in touch with them. You should always start this off politely; they might be using a third-party agency and be unaware of the copyright violations in any given piece of content.

Ideally, they will then swiftly rectify the issue.

3. Get in touch (less politely)

If your initial contact has been unsuccessful, you should then escalate the situation by sending another message or email. These takedown notices should clearly outline your next steps, such as using legal mechanisms or going through the claims process via the search engine. 

In an ideal world, this will make the content thieves realize that you’re not happy with any of your valuable content being stolen. They should then take down the stolen content before they have to deal with any more serious consequences.

4. Contact the search engine

The next level of escalation involves reaching out to the search engines. 

Make sure that you have a clear body of evidence so that they’ll be motivated to help you. It’s rare, however, for the search engine to remove the duplicate content themselves. That’s because it can be difficult for them to ascertain that you’re in fact the owner of the original content. 

Talking to the search engines about your problem could however lend you their support if you decide to pursue a legal option to keep your content safe. 

5. Use legal protection

Ultimately, unscrupulous content selection is a violation of copyright laws. By damaging your search engine rankings, competitors are also damaging your business illegally. You should therefore use this copyright protection to your advantage when dealing with stolen online content. 

One of the most common ways to report a copyright infringement is through a DMCA notice of infringement. Although this is a law from the US, it is widely used across the world. Begin by researching what paperwork you’ll need to do and how much evidence you’ll need to collect for your copyright claim to be successful. 

You’ll then need to file a formal removal notice to a provider—in this case a search engine or web host—asking them to remove the stolen content. This will lead to the search results no longer showing the site with the stolen content. Under DMCA, the content thief will also be notified that their content is no longer being shown in search results. 

6. Restrict text copying 

As well as responding effectively to instances of content theft, you can also help to protect your content more proactively. One of the best ways to do this is through effective restriction of text copying, by adding CSS code. 

On top of this, utilizing advanced data collection methods can aid in identifying unauthorized duplications and safeguarding your textual content.

Alternatively, you can make your content hard to copy by making it unique to your business. Let’s say that you write a blog post about ai voice transcription and how it can be used to create user generated content—anyone also wanting to post similar content could just copy and paste your text. 

But if that blog post has links, references and examples from your website and how you’ve used the tool, it makes it much more difficult to copy and duplicate without a transformational edit. 

You could also proactively prove ownership of textual content by encouraging users to share or like your article. As well as making your content more widely read, this activity will prove that your content existed first as the comments, shares, or likes will immediately date the content. 

7. Protect images and videos

Of course, text isn’t the only type of content that is under threat from plagiarism. You also need to be careful to protect video content and images. Probably the most common and most effective option is to use a copyright symbol or watermark on all of your visual content. 

This will mean that people can’t commit copyright infringement without it being clear and obvious that the content is stolen. With videos, you can also use encryption to stop content thieves from downloading the video. You might also want to use a specific software to play your videos to prevent screen recording.

With regards to images, you can use watermarks. Moreover, consider restricting copying by editing the code in the image, and use the IPTC Core metadata to identify that you’re the owner of an image. This will make it harder for content thieves to pass off your images as their own and help to protect your brand style guide.


The more unique and original your content is, the more identifiable it will be. Use Keyhole for social listening and market research to help you stay ahead of your competitors and create original content that’s distinctive to your brand.

The social listening tool will also track your post and brand mentions, giving you an extra tool to monitor your content and view when it’s gone viral. 

Protecting your content in 2024

In the world of social media and web blog content, it’s almost inevitable that some content theft will occur. This means that it’s up to you to protect your content from copyright violations and ensure that your search engine rankings stay secure. 

By using some of the top tips in this guide you can be confident of protecting your digital content and prepare yourself by knowing what steps you should take if your content has been copied. 
Finally, why not take advantage of Keyhole’s free trial. So you can stay ahead of your competitors and create unique, immediately identifiable content. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is registering my copyright necessary to protect my content from being copied?

No, copyright is automatic upon the creation of original work fixed in a tangible medium. However, registering your copyright with the appropriate government body can provide additional legal benefits, including the ability to sue for statutory damages and legal fees in case of infringement. Registration serves as a public record of your copyright ownership and can be a significant advantage in legal disputes.

2. How effective are copyright notices in preventing content theft?

Copyright notices act as a deterrent rather than a foolproof prevention method. They inform potential copiers that the content is owned and copyrighted, which can discourage some from using it without permission. However, they do not stop determined infringers and should be used in conjunction with other protective measures.

3. Are there any specific strategies for protecting digital books and articles from being copied?

For digital books and articles, consider using Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, which controls the use of digital content and devices after sale. DRM can limit the number of devices a book can be read on and prevent copying and printing of the text. Additionally, publishing in formats that are less easily copied, such as closed e-reader formats, can also help protect your works.