How to Protect Your Hubs
Content Theft: An Occupational Hazard of Hubbing
By publishing on HubPages, you make your work readily-available to the public. While this is the very point of publishing a Hub, online publication comes with occupational hazards, one of the most common being intellectual property infringement.
Hubbers are naturally concerned about violation of their copyright, however a great deal of stress and worry can be avoided with a bit of perspective and preemptive action.
In this guide, we provide tips on:
- Understanding the rights you have to your content
- Knowing when it is appropriate to stipulate your intellectual property rights
- Monitoring Hubs for potential copyright infringement
- Taking action should you find that a Hub’s content has been stolen
- Things to consider before taking action against thieves
- Helping other Hubbers deal with theft
- Maximizing your time and minimizing stress with regard to content theft
The Rights You Maintain to Your Hubs
By publishing a Hub on our site you grant HubPages a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license, for as long as your Hub is displayed on HubPages and for a commercially reasonable time thereafter, to reproduce, publicly display, publicly perform, distribute, modify, adapt and publish the Hub’s content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your Hub on or in connection with HubPages.
Don’t let this looming cloud of legaleze confuse you; you still maintain the rights to the content you publish on HubPages and that others most certainly do not have the right to copy your work without your permission.
Simply put (and roughly speaking), HubPages has permission to:
Display your content without paying you royalties (instead, you earn from ad revenue on your content)
- Reproduce, modify, and adapt your content to promote it or do other functions intended by our site (e.g. showing a thumbnail of the first image of one of your Hubs and a summary on one of our Topic Pages, or showcasing one of your Hubs on a landing page encouraging other people to sign up for the community)
When to Stipulate Intellectual Property Rights
When you publish something online, your copyright is implied. You do not have to declare it to make it so.
Nevertheless, some Hubbers add copyright notices to the beginning or end of all of their articles.
Generally, we do not do recommend this as:
- Copyright is implied.
- Copyright notices are off topic and detract from the focus of a Hub.
- We have not seen any evidence indicating that those who post copyright notices are stolen from any less than those who do not.
- Most people understand that it is not OK to steal others’ work. If someone is going to steal your work, an extra copyright notice probably won’t stop him/her.
- Adding copyright warnings to the beginning or end of an article is not a common practice online (look at other mainstream news publications and major blogs online- they do not disclose copyright at the top of their articles).
- Adding copyright notices to the body of an article may make you look inexperienced or paranoid, or lessen a reader’s positive experience with your work (Imagine how you might feel should you walk into a museum and have staff members yell at you “DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!!!” Is that a positive experience? No. You would probably have a better memory of that museum and be more likely to revisit it if you felt the staff trusted you to behave respectably).
One instances in which we feel it helps to mention copyright is in image citations, though should you be attributing yourself, again, copyright is implied, so you really need only mention your name.
When featuring original images in your work, we encourage you to not only consider attributing yourself (to make it clear that you also maintain intellectual property rights to a given image), but to also consider giving your work a Creative Commons license, which would encourage others to use that image elsewhere online so long as they name you, disclose your image’s license, and link back to your work. To learn more about Creative Commons licenses, visit our guide to proper image use.
Keep an Eye Out for Content Theft
How to Monitor Hubs for Theft
Though sites like Copyscape can help you find which Hubs may have been copied over time, we have found the simplest way to monitor a Hub for potential infringement of intellectual property rights involves setting up a Google Alert right before you publish it.
To do so, you will need a Google account (which you probably already have should you use Gmail, Google Analytics, YouTube, etc.).
Right before you publish a Hub:
Copy a random snippet from the middle of the Hub
Visit Google Alerts
Paste the random snippet from your Hub into the “search” bar within quotation marks (e.g. “and that is why unicorns have maintained popularity for hundreds of years- from myths in the Middle Ages to modern internet memes”)
Ask for “everything” (for results), “as it happens” (for timing), and “all results” to be delivered to your email
Click “Create Alert”
You will then get an instant email notification should Google find a page that contains your random Hub snippet.
Setting Up a Google Alert
What to Do if a Hub’s Content Has Been Stolen
Should you find that someone has copied some or all of your Hub without your permission:
Do not panic
Consider whether your content was copied maliciously or with good intentions (see below for more detail)
Look for any direct lines of communication with the person who posted your content without permission; if you cannot find one, find a direct line of communication with the website owner (e.g. HubPages support staff on HubPages) or the host of an individual's website
Should you have a direct line of contact with the person who posted your content, politely ask him/her to take it down or properly attribute you and make it clear that if he/she does not take action within a certain number of days, you will send a DMCA complaint
Send a DMCA complaint directly to the person who posted the content, and/or the admins of the platform on which the person published and/or the host of that person’s website
If the content is not taken down within a week or so, send a DMCA complaint to Google by filling out their content removal form
How to Find Someone’s Website Host
Visit one of the various Whois domain lookup sites that appear as results
Enter in the URL of the site
The site’s host should be listed amongst the results
Has it Happened to You?
Has your content ever been stolen?
Generally speaking, if the person who has stolen your content is indeed a person and has published it on a known platform, finding the right channels through which you can contact the offending individual and/or the site’s administrators is fairly easy.
Should one publish your copyrighted content on a personally-owned website, it should also be fairly easy to at least contact the website host with a DMCA complaint if it is not possible to contact offending individual directly (many, many sites offer contact pages).
Sometimes individuals, online platform administrators, and even website hosts to do not respond. In such cases, submitting a complaint with Google can help, but we do not recommend ruminating on the issue as you await responses and actions. The more you can address copyright violations in an objective and systematic manner, the better off you will be.
How to Send a DMCA Request
Sending a DMCA complaint is surprisingly simple. For the full how-to, visit our designated Learning Center guide.
Things to Consider Before Taking Action
Not all people who copy your content are doing so maliciously; many people who copy content just aren’t thinking (and let’s be honest, we’ve all accidentally violated another’s copyright in the past- there are very few, for example, who have never grabbed an image, likely copyrighted, from a site found via Google Image results).
Should you suspect that someone used your content without malicious intent consider sending the unintentional offender a friendly message explaining that the content is copyrighted and that you would prefer it be taken down (or properly attributed).
Not all content is hurt by being shared. Generally speaking, ideas gain strength by being spread, and your reputation can gain from getting more coverage as well. For this reason, we encourage you to give people the option to publish your original images or excerpts of your content elsewhere, so long as they attribute you and link back to your work.
The simplest and most consistent way to do so entails applying a Creative Commons license to your work. Creative Commons licenses clearly state what one must do if one wants to use your work, whereas people might be compelled to use your work without permission if they don’t quite know how to contact you or what your terms might be.
Join the Community in Monitoring for Widespread Content Theft
How to Help the HubPages Community Fight Content Theft
It is not uncommon for automated crawlers to steal significant swaths of Hubbers’ content from various topical sections of our site. In such situations, you might discover that a large number of your Hubs on a particular subject have been stolen.
Should you discover that the content thief who has violated your copyright has stolen additional Hubs by other authors, we encourage you to:
Notify them directly
- Start a thread in the HubPages Forums letting Hubbers know about the website and the type of stolen content it is featuring
Don't Go Overboard!
A Final Note on Protecting Your Hubs
We have seen some Hubbers become obsessed with content theft and spend hours and hours both searching for copied content and attempting to take down stolen content. We do not find this to be a productive use of your time (and think you will agree it is not the most enjoyable use of your time either).
We encourage you to maintain a healthy view about your content online. That involves viewing content theft with a hefty dose of perspective.
Time spent creating new, original, high quality content will do you much more good than time spent attempting to take down copied versions of content you have already published.
Your content will very likely be stolen by someone and while it may frustrate you, it is not likely damage your original content’s prospects. Google gives precedence to original content. We have yet to find a concrete instance in which a Hubber’s original content has been outranked by a copied version in search results.
Please, do not let the threat of online content theft hold you back. It is a small hazard associated with publishing online, and is miniscule compared to the rewards, opportunities, and benefits associated with making your content publicly available.