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How to check if your site has copied text!

The Scenario

We are sometimes approached by customers who have had their website built by a friend of a friend or someone just starting out and the site is full of text. When you ask the customer how much they paid for the site they usually say something along the lines of “not very much” or “they did it for free”. Now, there is nothing wrong with a free lunch, we love free lunches! But when a site is choc full of text but didn’t cost much, either you got the deal of the century, or that text has come from somewhere else (hint, usually google).

The Problem

Why is that a problem I hear you ask? Well, the answer is simple. Copyright. If your friend/bargain web designer has pinched text from someone else (other than in accordance with fair use then you can run in to trouble. In much the same way large stock photo agencies can scan the internet for their “Intellectual Property”, they can do the same with text. And if you are caught by them with obviously plagiarised text on your site, there can be hefty penalties. At the very least, expect a cease and desist letter from a solicitor, you can also expect that letter to turn into a demand for money. Gulp.

The Solution

The answer? Well, that’s easy. Don’t have any copied content on your site! How do I know? (You say, looking quizzically at your screen). Well, it’s not always easy but there are a couple of easy steps you can take to double check.

1 – Check with google.

Copy and paste some of your text (ideally you want to check it all but if there is some you think “hmmmm, this is well written”, then start with that and paste it into Google. Press enter and see what results come back. Hopefully nothing, but better to know an advance of any trouble right?

2 – Check with a service like Copyscape

This site will check your whole page for any text from the internet. If you get super paranoid, it might be worth signing up with a service like this. Although, Copyscape is good, there are plenty of others out there so make sure you shop around!

The Conclusion

This isn’t a foolproof method, but if you aren’t sure where your text on your site came from, follow these easy steps and do some due diligence. And, don’t forget, when you hire an IT professional, you should expect them to have a grasp of these issues. if they don’t, keep on looking because they can put your business and reputation at risk!