Unique content is a major factor in ranking website. But what happen if anybody copies your unique content? How does Google prioritize the websites then? Does is affect on rankings too much? What are the methods to stay protected from being copied?
You can arm yourself against this by using the rel=author meta tag for all your content then you are claiming it as your own. If people should copy your content, they will get "outed" with the engines. It comes down to building Author Ranking. Check also this one: Google Confirms Author Ranking; What Does That Mean To You?.
But if someone stole your content you should get it removed. Ask the people who copied your content to take it down and if this doesn't work you should file a DMCA. If you file for a DMCA, make sure you don't move your content around (keep it on the same URL) so Google can verify the date of the content.
You can find if someone is copying your content by using Copyscape or Google alerts.
I would assume that Google treats the one with
rel=author or the one that appears first as the original content. Any second appearances might be treated as duplicate. However, there are steps that you can take to prevent your content from being copied. This is especially useful on text content.
Do not show the content to everyone. This is not universally applicable though. You can keep barriers such as registration before viewing the content. This would prevent bots from copying content. You may also make people pay to view the content. Beware:this is not universally applicable.
Serve text as an image. This is a big search engine no-no, but would help the cause if you receive most of your traffic from social media.
ctrl+Cor by using right mouse click. The tag line would be something like this:
Source:mysite.com. For more, please visit "pageurl"
This has brought surprising results because this has the added advantage of bringing in a backlink for every copied content. But this also can be circumvented easily if the one copying is a real person, he will easily remove the tag line.
So to conclude, if you are exposing content, you are making it vulnerable to be copied. You can only make it difficult for the person, by making him sit and type the whole thing out rather than just copying and pasting it. If your content is copied, you can always make a complaint to DMCA to have the copied content removed. Also there are services such as Copyscape that would regularly monitor your content and alert you if someone copies it. They also have some cool looking banners to scare the copiers away.
Hope this helps.