For a law firm to stay on top of the game in today’s digital world, it goes online. A website launch, high-quality content creation, marketing, and promotion—these are instruments helping lawyers become a name and make the target audience find them. But every time they design a content strategy and publish legal articles, blog posts, or any other writings online, they risk falling victim to plagiarists.
Plagiarists see nothing awful in copying legal writings and reusing them without attribution. They don’t care about copyright abuse and identity theft. And once they steal your writings online, Google penalties for duplicated content come: a search engine doesn’t consider your content original anymore, downgrading your website.
Result? Your legal website gets banned. Your budgets on content creation and marketing are lost. And your overall online reputation comes to harm.
Here’s what you can do to secure online legal writings from plagiarism.
Never Cut Corners on Website Security
According to specialists from Gartner, businesses will spend $124 billion on security by 2020. No wonder: hackers, viruses, dirty-playing competitors—all they are ready to kill and steal your legal data and business information. The most sensitive are those on WordPress, as this platform is with little to no protection against malicious attacks.
What you can do to protect a legal website from hacks:
- Choose a security-focused host and provider.
- Use HTTPS protocols for a website.
- Consider a powerful malware.
- Update your soft (CMS, servers, and browsers) regularly.
- Remember about password security: consider two-factor authentication and change passwords every three months.
Register Legal Writings in DMCA
Signed back in 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) criminalizes any attempt of copyright infringement. It states that all published works are under copyright law, even those with no copyright symbol on them. So even if you publish one article in two places, the Act sees this action like plagiarism.
When launching a website or publishing a legal project online, register all the content with DMCA. You’ll get a badge so potential criminals could see you protect the content, and you can send a takedown notice to DMCA every time someone has published your work.
To secure legal writings from plagiarism, you might want to mark them by a copyright notice or watermarks. Also, save all outlines, drafts in your legal writing tools, mind maps, or any other documents proving your authorship. In the case of co-authorship, arrange for an agreement to specify who owns the rights.
Monitor Published Writings and Contact Thieves
You are a copyright holder, but, as you know, you are also responsible for any infringements happening to your online writings. So, check them for duplications from time to time:
- Use tools like Grammarly or DupliChecker to make sure you avoid self-plagiarism.
- Use tools like Copyscape or Myows to see if others use your visual and text content.
Or, monitor your work via Google Search: take a statistically improbable (SIP) phrase quote from your writing and Google it for matches. Once you detect the copy of your legal writing at third parties’ websites, send an above DMCA takedown notice or just contact the infractors to remind them about copyright.
Most webmasters are afraid of penalties for plagiarism, so they’ll probably remove your works from their websites. If not, send them a Cease and Desist letter with the original version of your writing, a particular abstract they’ve plagiarized, your demand (to remove or to give it credit), and the actions you are going to take if they ignore your request.
If there are no contacts on their website, use Whois to find a legal name, phone, and hosting company of its owners. In the case when webmasters ignore your requests, contact their hosting company. No reaction here as well? Write a copyright complaint to Google: once you’ve proven the authorship, they’ll remove your content from that third party’s website and may ban them for duplicating from you.
As a reputable law firm or lawyers building their professional reputation online, you understand the role of original and comprehensive content here. Your online legal writings hook the target audience, generate organic traffic to your business website, influence your online presence, and convert leads.
The problem is that your stellar online writings hook dirty players on the legal market, too. They steal, damaging your online reputation and tearing the guts out of your marketing strategies for business success. So, secure your website and information beforehand: register all the legal writings, and monitor them regularly to avoid copyright abuse.