What started as a seemingly innocent looking pingback on one of my articles on pay-per-click advertising quickly turned into the discovery that someone had violated my copyright! They had stolen my entire article without giving me any credit at all. There was no mention of an author or of my blog. I honestly felt that I had been robbed. A quick search of the Internet presented me with lots of horror stories from other people who have encountered the same problem. I also found a site dedicated to stopping plagiarism including steps for contacting the copyright infringer and notifying their host. Of course, a quick whois lookup for contact information was futile. I posted a comment on their plagiarized version of my article notifying them that I was aware of the theft and to immediately remove it but of course it was ignored. So what do I do? Do I pursue it?
In between muttering to myself and diligently researching online, I started to question if it was worth my time and energy to pursue it further. My next step was to vent on Twitter and Facebook to see if anyone I correspond with could add words of wisdom. The replies included “think of it as a form of flattery” and a suggestion to use “Blog-Protector”, a WordPress plug-in that disables right click and selection of text.
Since I wasn’t feeling very flattered, I immediately installed the Blog-Protector plug-in. It works as advertised. I couldn’t even copy and paste from my own site. As I became increasingly frustrated, Kimberly Castleberry (@AskKim for those of you on Twitter) left this comment:
“I understand the problem but will caution you at the visitors you will lose by disabling ALL right click functionality. There are a LOT of readers that use right click for things like bookmarking your page and they will NOT be happy”. . . “Disabling text selection is a start, but I suppose I should point out that at this point MUCH of the content scraping is happening by stealing feeds and using them to pipe content into auto-blogs. Be sure you think about this problem from all angles, I know it’s annoying and time consuming but always keep your readers first.”
I’ve been following Kim for a while and I do count her as a valued resource. Since Blog-Protector was frustrating me on my own site and since I personally copy and paste a lot (into personal documents, with the originating URL to keep as a reference), I decided that I would rather risk being plagiarized again than lose a single reader. After all, my main purpose for blogging is to be a resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Why wouldn’t I want my readers to copy and paste?
It got me thinking. Do plugins like Blog-Protector stop the bad guys or just other people like you and me? What’s this “content scraping” and piping content into “auto-blogs” that Kim was talking about? Turns out that there are WordPress plugins that you can buy to scrape content and automatically feed it into blogs. That’s exactly how my content was stolen! The combination of content scraping and auto-blogs make powerful affiliate marketing blogs. The blog that my stolen post landed on is riddled with Google AdSense ads – probably making someone somewhere money.
So, personally, I’m going to concentrate on blogging and the needs of my readers. If I end up having my content stolen again (which I can pretty much expect will happen) I will mutter to myself again and rant and rave to anyone who’ll listen. They say that the Internet is the new Wild-Wild-West. I guess I’ll just have to put up with a few robbers.
What are your thoughts? Have you had your content plagiarized? What did you do? Did you spend the time to try to get it taken down? Were you successful? Do you use Blog-Protector or a plug-in like it? Maybe you can convince me to fight the copyright infringers.