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One of our competitors constantly copies all our website content.
Now, I assume the trouble is to proof that we wrote the content first and that it is not the other way round.
I checked on http://www.archive.org, but there is nothing. Any other way to proof that?

FYI: We are a Swiss company, so different laws will apply.

Solution: Found later… You can upload your content to this service and that they basically time-stamp it.

Another way we found is to just print out your copy/design etc. Put it into an envelope and send it to ourselves (without actually opening it later of course).

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If you add an answer with the solutions you found, people can vote on it and leave comments specific to those solutions. –  Matthew Crumley Sep 30 '10 at 23:04
    
The sealed dated envelop doesn't have any special legal status in the US, and I doubt it does in Switzerland either. Much better would be to get your equivalent of a notary to seal and date a copy of the website. –  Charles Jun 23 '11 at 16:50
    
+1 Thnx for solution but you should have posted it as answer (it adds more to rep). Well, and accepted answer is not answer at all –  Gennady Vanin Novosibirsk Nov 14 '11 at 9:29
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7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You can consider notifying about your site updates on social media (Twitter, Facebook etc.) as soon as you post. The timestamp recorded there can be a fair indicator that you wrote first.

Assuming, popular search engines already index your web-pages regularly (use the site operator, site:example.com, to find out) the date in the cached copy can be used as a rough indicator of when the content was published.

Update: Through Google Webmaster Tools, you can enforce a setting to have Googlebot crawl your site too often or manually ask Google to crawl a specific page or site.

As this article suggests, you can write a polite email to your competitors to desist from copying & then if that doesn't help, send a formal DMCA letter to his web hosting company and also possibly to his advertising partner(s).

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Thanks, the idea with the Cache is good. And yes, we contacted our lawyer and he will write up a lovely letter :-) –  Remy Sep 30 '10 at 12:15
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I've a good idea.

Suppose you create a web page you want to prevent copying. Link this page from nowhere in your site. But create some links from other sites which your competitor would not know so that the search engines would index them.

After some time after say Google has indexed the page you can create internal links to the page in your site. So now if this page is found in competitor's site, search engines would know that it's copied content and would downgrade it with "copy" penalty. You can request removal of such "copied" pages from Google etc.

Another way is to make visible your sitemap page (say sitemap.xml) to only search engines IP address. Googlebot, Bingbot have fixed IP addresses. They'll be able to see your site pages and index them. Don't include those pages in local search until indexed. Better use Google custom search.

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Sounds like a pretty good idea!!! –  Remy Apr 26 '11 at 10:18
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@Aga How would you do this with CMS like Wordpress that interconnects all your posts and pages? –  Boris_yo Mar 29 at 7:55
    
Submit a sitemap to Google at unusual url. For example site.com/sitemapdskldsklds.xml. Google will quick read new URL's in case sitemap is updated. –  AgA Mar 30 at 12:39
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If you have a financial interest in protecting your copy, I would recommend consulting a lawyer who is familiar with prosecuting copyright infringement in your jurisdiction.

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I guess it depends what kind of site you run and if you can get away with it, but why not publicly call them out on it? If your site has a blog maybe do it there?

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I liked site you suggested. Moreover there are some tips to reduce the chance of getting your contents stolen

  1. Use interlinks. So visitors need to refer other article to understand an article completely. It also helps categorization
  2. Make your own examples. And refer your site everywhere like http://article-stack.com/education/smart-learning/regular-expressions-common-elements-part-1.amty
  3. Better to put example images which describe steps or procedure and contains your logo. However these images can be edited easily.

I hope these tips may help someone, not for stopping but reducing

EDIT: There are many bloggers who use automatic post grabber and publish them without effort. To stop such stealing;

  1. Put some JS animations or effects in your post. Which will not work on their site correctly in absence of required resources. Hence visitor of their site will move to your site. And your contents will be advertised without extra expense.
  2. Put some advertisements. People will not like to show such advertisements and will avoid publishing your contents automatically.
  3. Put some hidden HTML with warning message or linking to your site. Hide this html using external CSS or JS. So it'll be hidden on your site but not on someone who is stealing your contents using such tools.
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May be one of the services that copyscape.com offer can help?

Copysentry protects your site against content theft by monitoring the web daily or weekly for copies of your content and sending you email when new copies appear.

Copysentry's advanced features include case tracking and follow-up and a browser for viewing previous results.

However, this is not a free service.

EDIT: If in the UK then also check out: http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/

Copyright registration with the UK Copyright Service is the fast, effective and low cost way to protect your work from infringement and misuse - ensuring you always have the best evidence to protect your work and your rights.

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It's not currently the problem that we are searching for people who copy us, but that our direct competitor does copy half of our content. So, we already are aware of the problem. –  Remy Sep 30 '10 at 12:14
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I had a question regarding the above-mentioned indexing and maybe my own realization helps others:

My question was:

"Isn't a web page that can be FOUND by competitors necessarily already INDEXED with Google? Meaning: Would someone find it (on Google) if non-indexed?"

Yes, through links on your own website.

This is the reason why we need that new page to be indexed BEFORE linking to it.

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