Last year Sarah Bird posted an article on seomoz.org providing detailed steps on copyrighting the content of your web site. It’s a great “how-to” guide, listing simple steps that anyone can follow and costing under $50 total ($45 for the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office and a few extra dollars for a blank CD, some paper, some use of your computer and printer, an envelope, and a stamp). You can copyright your entire site, specific pages, or components of pages (e.g., videos, images, etc.), and you can easily submit updates for dynamic and changing content.
So, if the process is simple and inexpensive, why not do it now? The Digital Millenium Copyright Act gives you legal recourse in case anyone steals your content. Moreover, without a copyright, you can’t even force someone from ceasing to use your work. And it can be more than just a few lines or pictures appearing elsewhere. The more of your content that appears elsewhere, the more your SEO rank might be co-opted by these other sites, the more confused about you and your brand your potential market becomes, and the more traffic that might never even come to your site. In fact, it’s possible (and has happened) for unscrupulous people to steal content from your site for deceptive or malicious purposes. Without a copyright, there is little you can do about it.
As an addendum, once you have a copyright, rather than passively waiting to find out if any of your content has been stolen, it’s a small investment to do periodic searches to look for plagiarism and unauthorized duplication. Sites such as http://www.copyscape.com are useful tools in this endeavor.
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