How to stop content theft in WordPress for free

When someone starts blogging, the focus is usually put on the content. There are new stories to be told, new images to be shared and bloggers don’t think about content theft at this point. But, sooner or later, if you write unique stories and articles that get popular or you publish photos that other like, you will become a target for online thieves.

Yes, stealing content online is illegal and morally unacceptable, but it is something that happens on an everyday basis. Truth to be told, there’s not much you can do about it. No matter what you do, if someone is keen on stealing your story or a photograph, they will do it. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on the whole idea of protecting your site; you can protect the content on one level and stop some potential thieves.

In this article, we’re about to show you how to stop content theft in WordPress. As usual, there are some great plugins which can help you and you can do much on your own.

Add a copyright notice

Let’s start with small things. Although a copyright notice can’t stop content theft by itself, you should still have it on your site. Usually found in the footer area, a copyright notice tells your regular visitors that you care about the content and that it shouldn’t be copied without your permission. While it might sound ineffective, there are still people who will actually take the notice seriously. It is really easy to add a simple copyright notice to your WordPress site. If you want to create a bit more complex notice, you can also create a dynamic copyright notice in your WordPress footer.

Add a copyright notice in the clipboard

Once you have added a copyright notice to the footer area of your website, you might consider going a step further. If you decide not to completely block people from copying your text (which you can do with the plugin we’re about to mention below), you can add a copyright notice directly to the copied text. By doing this, you can let your visitors know that you don’t want them to copy content without a permission. Instead of showing an alert message while users try to copy text, by using this technique you can add any text and/or a link to everything users copy from your site. Yes, this can be easily deleted once pasted into a 3rd party editor, but you still get to warn content thieves of their actions.

WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click


WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click
Since there are more than 40,000 active installs, you can tell how popular this free WordPress really is. It can help you by protecting your content from being selected and copied. Just this is a nice feature which can draw away many thieves who wanted to quickly steal your article. In addition, the plugin will let you disable right click or context menu so that no one can save images from your site. You also show a custom alert message and additionally warn people about content theft. If that’s not enough for you, you can disallow the usage of specific key combinations which are used for copying and pasting content like CTRL+A, CTRL+C, CTRL+X, CTRL+S or CTRL+V.

Everything we mentioned here is completely free, and you can protect your site in the following minutes. But if you want even more, you should know there is a professional version packed with extra features.

Add a DMCA Protection badge

DMCA service offers free protection to your site. If you add a badge to your WordPress website, you can let your visitors know how serious you’re about the content. Since DMCA can help you take down the site which used the stolen material and can even take legal actions, many content thieves will be discouraged after seeing the badge on your site.

While you can add a badge manually from DMCA, you can make everything much easier by installing a free DMCA Protection Badge plugin from WordPress plugin repository.

Use watermarks on your images

If you have browsed Google images, you know that watermarks can be quite effective. For example, if a site which sells high-resolution images wanted to protect those pictures in order to make money, it had a watermark on it so you couldn’t use that image without paying for it. This isn’t an ideal solution for smaller websites because you either have to ruin the photo by adding an enormous watermark, or you have to put a smaller logo which can be easily cropped out. Still, it’s better to have a small watermark than leaving the entire photo unprotected.

Watermarks can be added by using different WordPress gallery plugins or you can install free plugins like Image Watermark or Easy Watermark

Modify your RSS feed

A beginner might not be aware that RSS feed is used for automatic content theft. If you leave your RSS feed as is, you might be broadcasting the entire content to bots waiting to steal your article. The minute after you publish an article, it will appear on the RSS feed, and a bot might steal it from you. That’s why you should consider adding only post summaries into RSS feeds.

A good practice is to add internal links to your articles. While there are obvious benefits to your site and the SEO, you can also catch those bots who will automatically copy your stuff and in the end prove that the article was originally yours.

Also, it might help you to postpone RSS feed so that they’re not published immediately after you publish a post.

Disable image hotlinking

Hotlinking allows people to use your images on their site. By embedding your image, the can have that image on their site and still use your bandwidth! You need to take care of hotlinking and completely disable it. You can do that manually by editing the .htaccess code or you can use a plugin called Hotlink Protection.

If you don’t want to install the plugin (which is unfortunately not longer supported), you can add the code to .htaccess file by yourself:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ [NC,R,L]

Protect downloads

If you use WordPress to offer your visitors digital downloads, you should take an extra step and protect your digital goods. Instead of just leaving the links available to anyone, you can control who can access download links.

We already showed you how to manage downloadable files with Download monitor. We also suggest that you check free WordPress plugins such as Download Manager and Easy Digital Downloads.

Even though many of the techniques used to prevent content theft can be avoided by power users, you still have to take care of your website. If you stop only several people from stealing your stuff, we think installing an additional plugin or adding custom code was worth it.

If you want to further increase the security of your WordPress site, we suggest that you start with the free online security scanner for WordPress.

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