You’ve spent hours, days, weeks writing your website copy. You’ve thought about your niche market, your ideal client, and have carefully crafted just the right words and incorporated just the right images to reach them. It took meticulous keyword searches, and thorough examination of the sites of others in your field, to make sure that your uniqueness, the special qualities that make you YOU, and that you hope will make people want to buy from you, are clearly and powerfully expressed.
Maybe then you decide to run some Google Ads or Facebook ads, so you start running keyword searches again. What’s this? What do you mean this other website is using your words? Your EXACT words?
Welcome to the wonderful world of copyright infringement. There seems to be a large proportion of people who think that just because content is available to be read online it’s available to be copied and used elsewhere with no acknowledgment of who wrote it or who it belongs to.
Not so, young grasshopper. It belongs to the person who created it. (In some special cases it belongs to the company that publishes it, but I’m not going to get into a legal discussion about publishers and fair use. This is about the stuff YOU wrote for YOUR website.)
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has a good, clear explanation of copyright here. I like this paragraph, but honestly the whole article is pretty easy to read:
“Simply put, the Act prohibits others from copying your work without your permission. Its purpose, like that of other pieces of IP legislation, is to protect copyright owners while promoting creativity and the orderly exchange of ideas.”
While copyright laws are country-specific, you’re covered internationally because Canada and the US and a number of other countries are part of a treaty: ” A treaty country is defined as a Berne Convention country, a Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) country or a World Trade Organization (WTO) member.”
So how do you make sure no one is using your web copy without your permission? One of the easiest ways is to check at Copyscape. They have a free version, but the premium version is only 5c per page searched.
Well worth it for some peace of mind, don’t you think?