Protect web content from being copied in WordPress. Easy methods

Stop people stealing your website articles in WordPress

Is the hard work you put into your website or blog wasted because someone is copying everything and using it on their site? Stop content theft with plugins and protect your WordPress site.

In a recent article I looked at all the ways to prevent image theft on your website. Too many people think they can just take any site’s image and use it on their own. It is frustrating. The same thing can happen with the text in posts as well and you may find that not only are large portions of text being copied from your site and used elsewhere, but whole articles can appear on someone else’s website.

It is not just annoying when posts appear on someone else’s site, if you monetize your site, they are depriving you of income. They may even be ranking on Google search for your copied posts. They may even outrank you, the original creator!

Are WordPress posts copyright?

All original works, including text and images, is copyright by default and there is nothing special that you need to do to make it copyright. It just is. However, this does not deter many people. They either think that it is OK to copy parts or even all of someone else’s website post, or they do not care.

If you do not have a copyright notice on your articles, people may assume that they are free to copy it simply through ignorance. A polite copyright notice will deter some people, such as, something like “All text (c) 2021 Bob Smith. Not to be used elsewhere.” If your theme allows it, it can automatically be added after every post as a widget or re-useable block so you don’t even need to add it yourself.

Some people will ignore copyright messages of course, but I would say it is essential to point out to people that copying is theft. Leave them in no doubt.

Prevent text copying without plugins

It is possible to prevent text on web pages from being selected without WordPress plugins and all it requires is a bit of CSS. In WordPress admin, click Appearance > Customize > Additional CSS. Click in the box and then copy and paste this code into it:

*{
-moz-user-select: none;
-ms-user-select: none;
-khtml-user-select: none;
-webkit-user-select: none;
-webkit-touch-callout: none;
user-select: none;
}

Plugins work by disabling the right click (PC) or Ctrl+click (Mac) function of the mouse or trackpad. This code does not disable mouse clicks, so it is much less irritating to normal users. It is only irritating to thieves because it will not allow text to be selected and therefore copied. It also avoids the need to install yet another plugin in WordPress.

All those lines are to cope with all the different web browsers, like Chrome, Firefox, Safari. Each has its own line of code to prevent text selection. It would be a lot simpler if all browsers used the same code.

Prevent text copying with a plugin

Most of the plugins that prevent image theft by disabling right or Ctrl+click also disable text copying by right click. However, they do not always prevent keyboard shortcuts. For example, you can click and drag over text on a web page to select it and then press Ctrl+C (PC) or Cmd+C (Mac). You only get partial protection with some plugins and it is something to watch out for.

A WordPress plugin to prevent image theft
Prevent text from being copied with a WordPress plugin

WP Content Protection & No Right Click protects text from being copied either with the mouse or keyboard. It is a popular choice and has many happy users.

Secure Content Copy Protection and Content Locking (https://wordpress.org/plugins/secure-copy-content-protection/) has an option to allow or disable text selection. It protects from mouse and keyboard copying.

WP security Safe (https://wordpress.org/plugins/security-safe/) is a general security plugin with many functions. If you go to WP Security Safe > Content > Settings there is a checkbox to allow or disable text highlighting. If text cannot be highlighted, it cannot be copied by mouse or keyboard.

Catch a thief out

The methods above really only prevent someone from manually copying the text in your posts and some thieves will use WordPress plugins or software. CSS and copy protection plugins do not work in this case.

Although you cannot prevent someone scraping the content from your site using a plugin or software, you can catch them out by inserting something into the text. The thief probably does not read what they copy and it is mostly an automatic process. This is their Achilles heel.

Somewhere in a long paragraph of text, hide a message like this: “If you are reading this and it’s not on xyz.com then it has been stolen.”

If the thief uses automated tools to copy and post your content on their site, the message will be included. It is then very easy to get their site taken down. Contact their web host (there are browser extensions that tell you, like Who Is Hosting This Website for Chrome and Edge and point them to the copied posts with your message. Get Google to remove the site from Google search.

Final thoughts

Simple measures protect your site’s content from theft work with most people and are well worth doing if you have a problem with articles appearing elsewhere. They will not deter a determined thief who uses plugins or software to scrape your site and ignores your requests to stop. The only option with some people is to try to get the site taken down.

Related articles:

 

Go to: Discussion Forums | Money-saving deals

(Affiliate links):

WordPress recommends Bluehost Get great web hosting and save money with a Bluehost website from just $3.95/month. Learn more


About Anthony Waddilove 16 Articles
I have been a computer, phone and internet enthusiast for many years. This has enabled me to build up an extensive knowledge about them. I still have a lot to learn, but I am working hard at it!