Content theft is annoying if not harmful. I am sure Google can tell what website posted an article first, but when someone steals content and uses it on their own website, it’s frustrating. As a website owner, why should someone be able to take something I created in order to line their own pockets?
Because I use WordPress for this blog and several other websites I operate, I receive pingbacks when other blogs take my content and provide a link back to the source. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other times that websites steal articles and content without a link back, and it’s much more difficult to detect.
One thing you can do to find out about content theft is to set up Google Alerts for sentences on your static pages and your high traffic driving posts. As soon as Google notices the same sentence in another article that is posted online, you’ll get an alert email to let you know about it and let you know where it is posted. With this information, you can file a DMCA takedown notice with the thief’s hosting company, or in the case of an accidental post, you can request a link back to your website.
This can’t really help prevent content theft from happening, but it can help remediate it when you do find that someone lifted an article or something important from your website.