Want to know how to find out if someone is stealing your blog content? IMMA TELL YOU HOW. Because enough is enough!
VENT SESH ALERT.
There is NOTHING more infuriating than finding out someone is stealing your creative content. As creatives, we spend hours upon hours writing, designing, editing, revising, starting over, etc. to perfect our craft and deliver original, well-thought out and valuable content to our audience. We agonize over something as simple as line spacing and as complicated as font and photo choice. We read, re-read, read again… sometimes spending an hour on the same paragraph!
So when someone has the audacity to literally copy and paste our articles, or save our designs and paste their own branding on it to claim it as their own… we GET MAD and want to tear that person a new a**hole!
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It’s one thing to get inspiration from your peers to give your take, twist or opinion on something; to research what is working and find a way to offer your own value on a topic or conversation. It’s another to flat out copy and publish identical content, whether written or designed. How is that even remotely ethical or fair? Plagiarism is not OK!
No, this didn’t just happen to me, but having worked in the field of content creation for over 10 years, I can tell you that it definitely has before.
What triggered this emotional explosion was finding yet another bogus scam artist stealing one of our peer’s original content.
How did we know?
Well, Sam was simply scrolling through Pinterest doing some research when he landed on a pin for an article he was interested in reading. He expanded the pin, clicked the link and landed on a website that just did not make sense.
This is the pin he found and clicked:
This is the page it brought him to (www (dot) cbfirestorm (dot) com – yes, I will happily call you out):
He nudges me and says “Katie, look where this pin brought me, such click-bait.”
So I asked him to see the original pin and IMMEDIATELY knew that it was stolen content. I knew as soon as I saw it that I had seen it, or a similar design before.
How? Well, you become a good creative by being recognizable, right? By branding, by creating your content in such a way that when someone sees it, they make the connection to your business. When I saw what this particular pin linked to, a spammy AF website, I knew that the site definitely did not belong to the owner of the pin.
This was The Practical Saver’s original content. We were certain of it. But, we obviously wanted to confirm before reporting it or bringing it to Allan’s attention (because I sure as hell would want to know!).
First of all, the footer has a not-so-subtle image block covering the owner’s domain. That was my first confirmation:
Then, we used Pinterest’s Visual Search feature to find the original pin.
We managed to find the original version by The Practical Saver to confirm our suspicions.
See the difference?
The stolen pin has the color-matched block covering the URL, with their own domain added to the footer, whereas the original pin has the real owner’s information.
The problem is that the average pinner probably won’t notice that the pin has been altered and that it links to a sales pitch that does not match what the pin is marketing. So until someone notices and reports content issues like this, the one using someone else’s work is benefiting to some extent.
Now, this is not the first time I have seen this, but it feels like there are more and more instances of this happening each day. It makes me so upset to find people stealing original, creative content AND using it as click-bait to their own, non-related content. Like, have some integrity for goodness sake!
How to find out if someone is stealing your pins:
Now, Pinterest’s Visual Search feature may not necessarily be intended for finding low lives that have nothing better to do but steal, cheat and be unoriginal (sorry guys, this REALLY bothers me), but it’s a great way to do a quick assessment from time-to-time.
Pinterest Visual Search is really meant for helping users find more information about things they are interested in. If you see a household item like a lamp or a piece of furniture that you love, you can use the visual search tool to find related content that will hopefully lead you to the brand name and where to buy it. Or if you are looking for interior design or wedding inspo and you see a look you love, use this feature for even more!
But, if you are a blogger or content creator, you can use it for many things, including finding out if a stock photo you are thinking about using has been used a bunch of other times (and thus, making it harder for Pinterest to understand what your content is about), or if it’s really under-used.
Using Pinterest Visual Search:
- Find a pin that you want to find more information about.
- View your pin in Closeup mode.
- Click the expansion icon on the bottom-right corner. This will take you to ‘Visually similar results’
- Drag the highlighted box over the portion of the pin you want to visually match (on the left), whether it’s the actual photo or the title/wording. This will present you with a page full of similar looking images. If people have used the stock photo before, you will see various pins with different title descriptions and links.
Here is an example of our pin about Productivity Hacks. We used the visual search tool and saw that the EXACT same image has been used quite a few times by other creators.. but fortunately, not carbon copies of our pin linking to anything funny:
We found The Practical Saver’s pin by putting the highlighted box over the title text on the duplicate version, which presented us with the matching original on the right.
Another way you can search for copied content is by a simple search.
If you suspect that someone may have stolen your or someone else’s pin, you can type the title into the search bar and see if you find it there. Now, this method won’t always work, but if the pin is properly set up with SEO, then you shouldn’t have a hard time finding exactly what you’re looking for! That IS what search engine optimization is all about right?
We typed in the title on the pin, ‘how to create a profitable blog in 15 minutes,’ and easily located the original pin using this method as well:
We have since reported the pin and hope that Pinterest will take it down promptly.
How to find out if someone copied your written work:
Grammarly is known for being not only the best grammar checker but an amazing plagiarism detector as well. It is used to make sure that content is original. You can copy and paste your content directly into their engine or you can upload a file to check for plagiarism as well as writing errors. Content is scanned and compared with over 16 billion web pages as well as academic databases to make sure there isn’t any duplicate content.
While you can use this to review your own work before publishing (to make sure you’re not sounding too similar to someone else), you can also check to see if anyone has copied your original work – it’ll find it word for word. If someone has copied even a few sentences of another website, it will pick up on it. If they didn’t cite you, that’s plagiarism. Best of all, it’s FREE!
Copyscape is another duplicate content detection software that is often used by editors and people who outsource content from freelancers. All you have to do is input your post’s URL in the Copyscape search box and the program will search the web to see if your content surfaces anywhere else. The results will show you the top 10 in the search engine, but you can get even more in-depth with the paid version. Copyscape Premium also lets you paste in the entire text of an article rather than just a link, which will show you how original your content is before even publishing online.
Of the two, my favorite is Grammarly, for both the user interface and the information it spits out. Copyscape gets the job done but doesn’t also function as a grammar checker like Grammarly, and is slightly antiquated in my opinion.
What can you do if someone plagiarized your work?
Unfortunately, the more digital we get, the easier it is to steal content. But it is possible to get duplicates taken down! This does, however, require that you prove ownership.
Before taking that route, you can try asking the person who plagiarized to take it down on their own. My thoughts on asking nicely are that if they thought copyright infringement was OK to begin with, they will probably ignore you. If they do, you tried the nice route – now onto the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) .
If someone copied your work and either ignores or refuses to take it down, you can file a Takedown request with their hosting company, if you’re able to find it. This may be by way of a form on the host’s website, or through a specified DMCA agent.
If you are unable to find the website host, you can hit them with the DMCA through DMCA.com. Filing a Takedown with the DMCA allows you to provide the website URL of the stolen content, the source (your website), and statement detailing the content ownership and how it was stolen.
You can also report stolen pins to Pinterest, who will then take the content down after confirming that you are the owner.
Seeing copied work like this REALLY makes my blood boil, and if you are a content creator yourself (especially if you’ve experienced it), I am sure yours is rumbling as well!
Have you ever had your content stolen? Comment below!