It’s a horrible feeling when you discover that someone has taken your original content or design, and wacked it up on their own website or social media. You’ve put time and effort (and potentially money) into crafting wonderfully original content, and to then see someone else claiming it as their own is disheartening to say the least.
This happened to my gift business the other day. I was having a look at a new competitor’s website after a friend mentioned there were some similarities in our businesses. Now, I’m all for healthy competition in the marketplace. More options to choose from is a win for consumers, as it pushes businesses to try harder for that elusive dollar. Higher quality, better pricing, faster distribution, more sustainable and ethical practices – when we’re spoilt for choice, these can be the positive outcomes of businesses having to compete against each other.
But in an already saturated market, you need to put in a ton of effort to make sure you stand out. And one of the ways I try and do that is through the content on my website. Being a copywriter, I’ve paid particular attention to the words that my business uses, making sure there’s enough useful information available to answer the most common customer queries.
So, you can imagine how I felt when I clicked on the new competitor’s FAQ page to see all my content on there – word for word – with just a few minor changes such as the business name.
Look, I understand that many people don’t feel passionate about their FAQ pages, and it’s not Pulitzer Prize winning stuff. But for me, this is content that I’ve been refining over the three years I’ve been dabbling in ecommerce, adding questions I’ve received from customers and improving it as my business experience grows.
I couldn’t help but feel pretty annoyed at such a blatant display of laziness from a direct competitor. Not to mention that it constitutes copyright infringement. We have a wonderful thing called copyright law, which is an automatic protection for your original content. Even if your website doesn’t carry the copyright symbol (©), your content is still protected under this law. That means that no one can republish your content without your explicit permission.
Six steps to dealing with copyright infringement
What should you do if, like me, you discover that someone is claiming your work as their own? You might be tempted to go in guns blazing, but you might get a better outcome if you take a deep breath and follow the steps below:
Once I got over the shock of hearing that a professional agency and copywriter were to blame for the plagiarism, I did appreciate how quickly the owner sorted the issue out. Within a couple of days, brand new copy had appeared, and no doubt there were a few red faces over at the agency.
What have I learnt in all of this? That if you discover that your content has been copied, there are laws to protect you, and you need to call it out. Thankfully, in my situation, it was all sorted out with one email. I’ve also learnt that sadly, there are people in the creative industry who have no issue with copying content. So, if you’d like to avoid finding yourself in a sticky copyright situation, then I’d be happy to help you with your next project.
This is the section where I tell you a little bit more about me. Not just as a freelance copywriter, but who I am as a person. The things that I like, the things that challenge me, my small business journey, freelance life, my copywriting and marketing tips, personal stuff and more. Because if you have a clear picture of who I am, then I feel you're in a better position to decide if I’m the freelance copywriter for you. Let’s go!