Categories
Blogging

Copyright Infringement – What Should You Do if Your Blog Post is Stolen?

Share Button

What started as a seemingly innocent looking pingback on one of my articles 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.

Steps for Stopping Copyright Infringement

I 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 plugin that disabled right click and selection of text. (Note: This particular plugin is no longer listed in the repository.)

Since I wasn’t feeling very flattered, I immediately installed the Blog-Protector plugin. It worked 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 had been following Kim for a while and I count her as a valued resource. Since I was frustrated by the plugin, (coupled by the fact that I personally copy and paste info into documents  along 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?

Will Content Scraping Hurt You?

It got me thinking. Do plugins, (like the WP Content Copy Protection plugin) 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 was riddled with Google AdSense ads – probably making someone somewhere money.

When I originally wrote this article (back in October of 2010) I decided to concentrate on blogging and writing good content that my readers would find valuable. If I ended up having my content stolen again (which did happen) I’d mutter to myself again and rant and rave about it (but much less than the first time). People say that the Internet is like the Wild-Wild-West. I guess we just have to put up with a few robbers.

What Does Google Say about Content Scraping?

Today, as I updated this article, I came upon Barry Schwartz’s post Google’s Matt Cutts: That Scraper Isn’t Hurting Your Mom’s Site on SERoundTable.com. Barry cites a response from Matt Cutts, (Google’s head of search spam), to a message thread on Hacker News. In Barry’s article, he embedded a Google Webmaster Help video that Matt Cutt’s published (in 2009). Although Matt hasn’t been updating the comments recently, you may be interested in what he had to say back then:

. . . in worse case, it won’t hurt . . . in some weird cases, it may actually help a little bit

Over to You

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? Have you read any more recent updates from Matt Cutts/Google about their take on copyright infringement? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas below.

Note: I first published this post October 28, 2010 and updated it on November 18, 2013.

Share Button

By Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

119 replies on “Copyright Infringement – What Should You Do if Your Blog Post is Stolen?”

Thanks for the post Sheryl, I find the concept of post stealing so frustrating and small minded. Fortunately, most people online are exactly the opposite, they are typically generous with their ideas and expertise.

You’re very welcome Debra. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts with us. I agree with you that most people online are generous. It’s that small percentage of people who make our lives difficult.

As bad as copyright infringement is, what I’m finding really alarming lately is the number of hackers and people who are spreading computer viruses (like the recent ransom virus). It’s been rampant in my area. My sister-in-law’s computer was hacked so badly that she had to replace it and a local police department actually had to pay ransom to gain access to their own data. It’s almost unbelievable what’s going on.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Building Your Personal Brand OnlineMy Profile

Hi Sherryl,

This is another hot topic. My blog is still new (6-7 months) so it is not so known and my contend is still safe. However, things will change, I am sure.

I think protecting pictures from being copied is not a good solution. I would protect only pictures of me but I don’t bother anymore because my photo has already been published on other sites and nothing can be done.

I agree with Kim. Much of the content scraping comes from stealing feeds. I think this is the place where you should start. Disabling, blocking or deleting the content feed in any way or by any method seems a bad idea, too.

I think the principle is: you should make the thieve’s job harder, as harder as you can. Make them work so hard they will think twice. It doesn’t work for big, experienced thieves (but these are a minority). It works for smaller, less experienced thieves (the majority).

You may choose to offer only parts of your feeds, or you may choose to place a copyright notice on your feeds.

Another thing is to make your articles more complex: more pictures, more links, videos etc. This is what I tend to do.

One day an internet marketer asked my permission to take one post of mine and publish it on his blog (happened on Triberr). I accepted. As the Triberr reblogging feature was not working at that time, he decided to take the post, manually and publish it.

He worked hard to take my post (it took him two days) and he didn’t take the pictures (more hard work and – by the way – where did you take these pictures Silviu?). LOL!

The result was a plain text blog with different images, no colors and no graphical elements. Only the text was mine. Nobody bothered to make a comment. Engagement factor was zero. The blog was rather new and I don’t know how it helped with his SEO.
I don’t think he will want to do that again anytime soon.

So, you see, make them work hard, make them sweat. Make them swear. Make each post so hard to steal that all normal thieves will be discouraged.

As for the rest, I think that those methods of sending a notice, email to the hosting company, DMCA etc are good. You must use them, especially when the content stolen is valuable.

The ball is not in our yard (bloggers). It is in the government’s yard. Legislative measures must be taken and powerful means to enforce the law must be used. Until then we must make the thieves task as harder as we can.

Have a wonderful day
silviu recently posted..Blog Commenting Results. Case Study 1My Profile

Silviu,
It’s hard to believe that your blog is less than a year old. You’re doing a wonderful job building a community of bloggers and establishing yourself as a valuable resource.

I still haven’t delved into the Triberr reblogging feature. I need to read up on that more. As always, thanks so much for taking the time to share your insight with us. I appreciate it as always.

You have a wonderful day too!

Hi Sherryl: Thanks for updating this post, as didn’t know you three years ago!

Interesting about article scraping. As a freelance writer for the past 20+ years, many of my colleagues have had their articles stolen and reposted without permission. We’ve found that by writing them an e-mail announcing that you would be contacting their ISP to advise you were charging the culprit with theft has often helped to have the stolen material taken down, and on occasion, the requested price for use of the article has even been paid.

I think that as copyright holders, we do have to protect our copyright and let infringers know that their behaviour is illegal and unacceptable.
Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..acknowledging our accomplishmentsMy Profile

Thanks for letting me know that you liked my post. I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for three years now! I spent quite a bit of time writing some of those articles and if the content is still valuable, I may dust off more. My blogging skills have definitely improved since I first published this post. In the original article, I didn’t even use heading tags! (That one habit has helped with SEO for sure.)

That’s encouraging that you and other authors have had success getting the stolen material down. Thanks for letting us know.

I have disabled right click on my previous blogs. I removed the “feature” after finding it annoying (If I find it annoying, what would my readers think, that was my reasoning).

Anyways, I do appreciate the update, Sherryl. It is good to know that content scrapping won’t hurt (so long as the content scrapper’s site/blog is ranking lower than us :D).

My concern is when that particular blog is marked as spam. Would it affect our blog too, since they are linking to us?

I agree with you Jeevan. That’s why I disabled it too. I share your concern about my content being on spammy sites too. In those cases, it could be worth your time to pursue it. Then again, there’s no guarantee that your efforts will be successful.

In my reply to Ray (who included some good points on how to pursue this), I mentioned resorting to the Google Webmaster disavow tool in the case of a spammy site that had over 1,200 links to me. (I still have about 950 links from their site pointing to me even though I submitted the request about four months ago.) So, try as we may, it comes down to the old “Is this the best use of my time?” question.

BTW – I think the disavow tool should be used sparingly and I caution anyone reading this it use it with care if they use it at all.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media StrategyMy Profile

Oh my gosh this has totally happened to me, more than once! I figured out the last time that they were stealing directly from my feed, which isn’t truncated because I know a lot of people follow my blog on bloglovin, and if you have truncated feed bloglovin doesn’t show your whole post and the reader has to click over to the blog. It’s annoying for the reader. Anyway, I switched to a truncated feed for a couple weeks and it foiled the post thief. Now I’ve switched back to a full feed. So far so good. Maybe they forgot about me.
Heather Fonseca recently posted..Printed Jeans for FallMy Profile

I am not aware of any of my text content being stolen, but I never really checked that much. Images are another story though.

I have a friend that writes tutorials similar to what I do that had a lot of his stuff published on another site without his permission and no link credit. It’s been awhile so I don’t remember what he did exactly, but I know he tried contacting the site and I believe filled out one of those DMCA things. They just ignored him too.

I know some people used to recommend emailing the hosting company or possibly even the datacenter’s abuse department with a copyright thing if you can find all that info. Whether they will actually do anything or not is the question of the day. Of course this was a few years ago. I know that they used to take abuse complaints serious if you go through the right channels and provide detailed, but easy to understand info.

If a datacenter receives a legit abuse complaint they notify the hosting company and tell them they need to take action or they will shut the entire server down, and the hosting company doesn’t want that to happen. They don’t give them very much time to resolve it either. That’s what some will do. I am not saying that they all will and it may depend a bit on the situation. For copyright violations I am not certain, but they certainly do this for phishing schemes though. If they happen to be located in a country that has little rules when it comes to the internet then you would probably be out of luck.

I am no expert on this though it’s just something I remember seeing happen a few years ago.
Ray recently posted..When Commenting On Blogs Use Your Real NameMy Profile

Thanks for the additional insight Ray. That’s unfortunate that your friend’s content was stolen. Sometimes, I question the effort it takes to resolve these issues. I think I would pursue trying to get the content down if it were on an objectionable site but other than that, I don’t think it’s worth my time.

BTW – A while ago, I wrote about a spammy site that showed up as having over 1,250 links to my site in Google Webmaster tools. I contacted their webmaster and they denied that the links exist. I submitted their URL using the disavow tool but they’re still showing up in GWT. (Although, the number of links has dropped to 905.) Any thoughts on what I should do next? I’m wondering if I should contact Google again.

I have read up on the disavow tool in the past, but everyone seems to have a different opinion about how it works or if it even works at all. Maybe some of these people didn’t format the disavow file properly I don’t know for certain.

Another thing that I see is some say only disavow if you receive warnings in Google Webmaster Tools. Others say disavow links or sites you don’t want to be associated with regardless.

I have yet to read anything where someone wrote about whether they were effectively removed from GWTs after doing so. There could be some decent articles about this out there though.

I know Google doesn’t seem to update the list of links in my WMTs account very often.

It’s hard to make any sense out of it when there are so many different opinions and suggestions floating around.

I did submit a disavow file about two months ago. I didn’t have any warnings in GWTs. I cautiously added some that were spammy and purposely linking to me with strange anchor text. I haven’t noticed any impact or changes attributed to doing so. I know it takes time, but in my case it has been two months. I will give it a little more time, but I would have thought if it was going to make a difference it would have by now.

I never tried contacting Google myself. I see people expressing frustration with not being able to do so, or because they receive automated generic replies. Some people imply that it won’t help if you don’t have warnings in GWTs, but then again everyone seems to have a different experience.

Sorry I don’t any suggestions of what to do next.
Ray recently posted..Technology Your Generation And BeyondMy Profile

Thanks for the additional insight about disavowing links Ray. I researched it quite a bit before deciding to go ahead and try to detach myself from that site. As you say, there are a lot of opinions floating around.

I didn’t realize that WMT doesn’t update that list often. (Then again, I rarely check it.) I should be encouraged that I have about 28% fewer links to that site now. I’m going to trust that it is working. (Now that I’m thinking about it, Google doesn’t index an entire site often. So chances are, it hasn’t caught up with all of the disavowed URLs yet.)

I have contacted Google directly and it was a nightmarish experience. After using Google Analytics for years, I signed up for Google+ (while it was basically in beta mode). I had to register using a Gmail account but I did not have a Gmail address associated with my analytics account. To make a long story short, I lost access to years of analytics. After a long process, Google randomly created an awkward Gmail account for me and assigned it to my old analytics account. So, I now use two separate Google accounts. It’s a pain and supposedly I should be able to merge them but I’m not about to test it.

That’s wonderful Jeannette! Thanks for letting us know that it can have a positive impact too.

Sometimes, sources of traffic can amaze me too. (I’m thinking of that burst of traffic that I got about a year ago from the online social game, Sitizens, which no longer is an active site BTW.)

One American woman did that to one of my articles. But she did leave a link to my blog. Contacted her but she didn’t bother to reply.

And the worst of all is that she has her own company that deals with corporate communications. Isn’t it interesting that she didn’t even have the imagination to write her own articles but was scraping content. How can she come up with ideas for successful corporate communications?

Could not be bothered to report her since she did leave a link.
Catarina recently posted..Would Harvard regard you as a great leader?My Profile

Thanks for the great article, i recently discovered 2 of my articles in another site. There is no contact form, and based on what i read it does little to look at the who is information and try to contact the owner. They don’t google adsense, but what bothers me the most is that my article is ranking higher on their page than in my blog. Am afraid they are just gonna continue taking every blog i post…

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed my article Pio. That’s a shame that your content is being plagarized. There are steps that you can take to report them to Google. Unfortunately, it can be a hassle though. Recently, I read that Google does take into account the original publish date of an article when they’re looking at duplicate content. So, you should be okay there. Do you have Google Authorship estabished for your blog?
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds for Weekend Reading – Week 1My Profile

Hi Sherryl, Thanks for the tip. I will look into Google Authorship.
Thanks again, i feel better already.

Regards,

Pio

There should something we can about this.. A site where we can do reports of stolen blog posts. Send them the stolen blog and the original blog where they can identify the original one by the date of the publish.

The publish date is irrelevant because it can be changed. I suspect the only way to prove the original is to get cached data from the search engines showing which one was indexed first.

If I were them I would not dare to do that.. Risking my AdSense and losing them is a pain. And I think that’s really unwise move.

I honestly don’t think you should be doing much if your blog post gets stolen.

Sure, the post belongs to you as you’ve written it – but there really is not much to do. The person stealing the post most probably is doing so via some plugin. And those are not easy to stop.

On the other hand, I believe one should take this to ones advantage instead. Place a link or two in your post and wait for it to get stolen by someone. That way, you get free backlinks! 😀

/Nab.

I think that it’s condoning illegal behavior to not do anything. They will continue doing it. I for one do not want backlinks from spammy and backlisted sites. Besides, when my posts have been plagiarized, all links have been removed. I think the two routes to follow are report them to Google if they’re running Google AdSense ads and report them to their hosing vendor. We can’t just give up to the bad guys!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Does CommentLuv Leak Link Juice – Guest Post by Randy PickardMy Profile

Hi Anne, At least I felt satisfaction when they pulled my post down because Google contacted them and they were in risk of losing their AdSense account but it”s a hassle to pursue it. It would be easier to just move on but that’s condoning the behavior. Sorry to hear you had the same experience.

Hi Sherryl, I had exactly the same experience. I found a duplicate of my article in someone else’s blog and even after leaving a nasty comment and a demand that he delete it or at least give me credit, nothing happened. Today, I was thinking of this dilemma that online publishers/writers face and how it could be stopped. We can’t really say, “Plagiarizing of any form is punishable by law” can we? For how can we chase them? Sigh!

Hi Sherryl,

Great topic you have going on here.
I use Copyscape and have found stolen content of mine. At first I was really frustrated but then I decided I just felt sorry for the person.
I have to agree that the blogs that use ‘blog protector’ are kind of annoying, as we habitually use right click for so many things. Personally I need it to spell check before I submit my comments lol!

It would be great to see a more advanced, intuitive plugin come into the blogging arena.

Michaelé
Michaelé Harrington recently posted..How To Bring Your Team Online Without The Overwhelm – Part 2My Profile

Michaele, I have not looked into Copyscape but you’re at least the second person who has mentioned this. I’ll have to add it to my (very long) to-do list. It would be nice if someone developed a more advanced, intuitive plugin to prevent plagiarism. We can always hope.

Lorraine,
I just looked at Copyscape briefly but it’s not something that I’m going to pursue at this time. I’m not as concerned with people scraping my content now as I was when I first started blogging. In the beginning, I took personally and now I take it in stride. As long as content scraping doesn’t hurt me from a SEO point, I don’t think it would be the best use of my time.

It’s sad to know that there are still persons who are just copying from others’ work without really putting into mind that they can be charged for plagiarism. They say imitation is the best form of flattery but is just frustrating that others are taking ownership of what isn’t theirs.

Sad to hear that taking the moral high ground and ignoring the culprits is the only real way to (not) deal with it other than full blown legal action. Even sadder to hear that bigger sites can get away with it whilst knocking your page rank out of town! A tough situation that I hope not to find myself in!

Sherryl, I think there are a couple of things I can suggest. When you post an update, use Google alerts to notify you when a line from your post is seen again on another site. You can subscribe by RSS, when you do get copied you will know every time. Also Google may know who wrote it depending on which one was indexed first.

Secondly, you could make it look unprofessional by putting in lots of speling mistakes, then 24 hours later republish with mistakes corrected, but those visiting the site later will see it looks correct; the trouble is RSS subscribers who updated often will think you can’t spell.

Thanks for your suggestions Ian. I do use Google alerts and I actually got a pingback when my post was stolen. Not sure what I did right to get that but something on my site is working in my favor. 🙂

It is a terrible day when you find out that your hard work or personal thoughts have been stolen just for the sake of “content” Sadly if it can be seen it can be copied, Sorry to hear about your experiance.

You’re welcome Sherryl. You did all the work.

I agree. More folks should at the least put in a complaint with whoever is hosting the site. The idea that “No one will do anything about it” is the main reason why it happens so much.

Oh, I am sure that it did Sherryl. When you reported it to Google “adsense” you were bascially reporting them to Google period. These people although running possibly a hundred domains and splogs are limited in what they can do as far as affiliate and ad programs. Not to mention that they dont want their site deindexed although that’s not as a big a deal.

There seems to be a lot of copyright activity going on lately.

Thank you again Paul for suggesting that I report the infringement to Google AdSense. It was definitely worth the time. I reported it online and I would highly recommend going that route to anyone who has an article swiped and put on a Google AdSense blog. I’m happy! 🙂

A counter notification apparently includes several possibilities. One of them is that the party responsible has removed the content and pledges it has been removed and will no longer be displayed. This could be what has happend. You might want to check and see if it is still up.

I can’t believe it! They did pull it down. Wow! I feel like I really accomplished something. 🙂 Do you think simply reporting them to Google AdSense did the trick? (BTW – I appreciate all your help with this!)

That’s interesting Sherryl. I’m going to look into it to see what that reply is about.

I’ve done some looking and can’t find any postings of your article that were not either done by you personally, or include attribution. Could be it’s been removed?

Wouldn’t you know it? I haven’t been swiped in awhile, and then my newest post isn’t even 24 hours old and it gets posted on another blog. At least the guy left a link back to me, but sheesh, what part of “© 2010 – Writingfourmylife.com* // ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ” isn’t clear?

What’s funny is, he swipes my post, then leaves his link in my directory.

That’s too bad Paul. It’s aggravating. I took your advice and filed a DMCA with Google hoping they’d close the AdSense account for the blogger that stole my article. I just received a counter notification that I have 10 days to file “an action seeking a court order to restrain the counter-notifier’s allegedly infringing activity”. More wasted time on something that won’t bring a dime in. At least you got a link. 🙂

I’ve been getting a lot of pingbacks lately to a blog that is sharing a couple of my articles with a lot of mini-blogs that they seem to have. At least I’m getting credit and pingbacks but it’s weird to be getting all of these pingbacks at once.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Differentiate your Website From Your Competitors with Live HelpMy Profile

Interesting post – since I’m new to blogging this is something I do keep thinking about and am concerned about. But then I guess it is the ‘risk’ we take with putting things out there on the www.

I personally do not really care if someone copy&pasts my content. In the end, I discuss news and movies that are already on the other Internet web-sites… Of course, I add my own thoughts and opinions, however, it is still not worth pursuing every copyrighter.

I think, it is worth to catch the “pirates” only for people like writers or movie-makers, since they use original ideas and waste a lot of money and time for their projects.

Using a plug in like blog protector can definitely make you lose some readers because people do like to copy and paste. However, I am sure it can be something you can do if you catch someone using your content on their site without giving you credit. I know I had somebody take my content and I found it on a blogger blog.

So I reported it to Google (who owns blogger) and provided them with proof that my content was the original. And they took down the guy’s entire blog. I know if you found it on a site like Hubpages, Squidoo, or Blogger you can report them and have them take the page down. However, i’m not sure you could do much about if you found it on an independent website. Sorry that happened to you and I hope you figure out something because it’s just wrong.

Sherryl, Mike Clough of The Blog Zone Linkedin group knows what to do. He started the group because what happened to you happened to him. Bloggers helping Bloggers are a sub-group of The Blog Zone. Send him a message and he may just be able to tell you what to do. Good luck!

Thanks Catarina. I think I’m all set. I was not going to pursue this because of the amount of time I’ve spent already but Paul Novak sent me a link to a site with great tools to use.

Today, I filed a DMCA Complaint Form with Google AdSense. (Hopefully, they’ll pull their account which will hurt them in the wallet.) I also was able to track down their hosting provider and I intend to notify their legal department of the infraction.

I always wonder about this, being an artist. I design a lot of original characters and there is always a chance someone could steal them. I share as much as I can without giving everything away. In your case, your words are being stolen and that makes it even more difficult. And how frustrating it must be to know someone is making money off of your hard work. It would frustrate me to no end. I think you did the right thing though and I think you should always notify others of what they’re doing and let the robber know. That way he feels like a piece of crap which is what they are.
Dennis Salvatier recently posted..Happy Halloween!My Profile

Hi Sherryl,

Interesting topic, and an equally interesting discussion here!

I had such experiences too!

Once it was from an auto-blog (didn’t know that this is what they call those automated content grabbers). I got a pingback from that site, the same way you did. Well, I didn’t do anything about it as there was not even a comments section on it where I could send the owner a message. Well, I guess it is no surprise that the owner did not want to be contacted by anyone anyway 🙂

Another time it was something that I caught from my analytics. There seemed to be this site that was pointing to mine. When I checked out the URL, it was my own article (on someone else’s site), that too one that I am very sensitive about – it was about “Logical Goals”, which is one of my trademarks! Same story… no attribution to my name, no nothing! Luckily, there was a link in my article that pointed to another article on my blog, and the content stealer didn’t even have the nuts to change that. That’s how I found him! 🙂

How did I handle this second case? I wrote a very formal, frightening, short and simple comment telling the person that I have found him violating the copyright law and that failure to immediately delete my material from his site will force me to take appropriate measures. Then I waited for a day, and the post vanished!

That said, would I be running after each and every one of such thieves thereafter? I fear not! Life happens, and we just cannot control it all. I think it is our gift to generate content, it is our privilege to “CREATE”. We should do what we do best, and maybe not worry too much about those who take credit for some parts of our work – which happens even in life offline. Do you see what I mean?

Wishing you success,
Mark

Thanks for sharing Mark! I am certainly not alone in my experience. Thanks to Paul, I was able to track down their hosting provider and I filed a DMCA Complaint Form with Google AdSense.

I’ve also received a lot of support both here and on Facebook. Kimberly certainly enlightened me on what was actually happening with the content scraping and listening to her prevented me from discouraging all of the honest people by using the blog-protector plug-in. This has definitely been a learning experience.

Yes, actually using way and means of trying to stop people from stealing your content only instigates them to make more efforts at targeting your content. The truth is that even plugins like blog-protector (though I have never even checked it) can never stop anyone from getting your content. Actually when your site is displayed on anyone’s browser, the content is right there, on their computer, available for them to do anything with it if they want to. It’s good Kimberly came in at the right time for you.

I get 100s of emails each day from ‘marketing gurus’ and sometimes they extol the wonders of ‘auto-blogs’ which receive content from RSS feeds, as if it was this totally legitimate method for acquiring content. The mindset seems to be that if its on a feed, it’s Public Domain.

(Which begs the question, of course, how many subscribers do you really have that use your RSS? Maybe the simplest answer is to disable it.)

I have been directed to free plugins, paid plugins, tutorials, etc. Apparently many of the get-rich-quick seekers are going in for this.

I spent a few hours this last weekend researching and couldn’t find any actual success stories from people who use these methods. It may be frustrating to see your hard work in the hands of a hijacker, but it’s unlikely anyone is viewing their site.

Rick

Being relatively new to writing articles and blogging, I was astonished to see my very first article plagiarised – with no credits nor links. At first I was annoyed, but then decided that the plagiariser must have thought it was worth something – so I felt flattered.

From a Whois I found an email address, and wrote to ask for the credits and links to be added. Not expecting much results from this, I blogged about it and moved on.

Imagine my surprise when the offending site was down for a few days. And when it re-opened, it was minus the copied article. Furthermore, some of the links from other sites, which had pointed to this copy, now pointed to the genuine article.

I hope this encourages people to at least challenge when an article or blog is plagiarised. It just may pay off.

This is encouraging that your post was taken down from the offending site. It’s such a feeling of satisfaction. Thanks for commenting! I apologize for taking so long to reply. I don’t know what I was doing (or where I was) around the 2nd of November but this is the 2nd comment I’ve found today that I never replied to. I really do appreciate your comments.

Splogs, or Spam Blogs are a huge problem right now. They basically use tons of stolen content, use scripts and bots to build thousands of blog comment backlinks (which is another reason to NEVER allow spam comments as well as the fact that Google may even penalize YOU if they detect a lot of spammy links on your blog) and they load the bogus blogs with affiliate links, paid links etc etc.

Google IS interested in dealing with them, but unfortunately you have to be a bit proactive.
http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/calling-for-link-spam-reports/

You can also do a WHOIS and DNS lookup on the domains and get the registrar info and host info, which will allow you to at least report them to the respective abuse departments.

I am currently doing this exact thing, only it is a guy who made the mistake of trying to leave a spam link and not hiding his personal domain info. In this case, his host contacted me back in less than 12 hours requesting more info.

You can also report them to whatever affiliate program’s admins they are using. Google will shut down an adsense account in milliseconds if they find their terms are being violated.

This is great advice Paul. I really appreciate the information that you sent me. I am going to take your advice and try one more time to pursue this as well as the second offender who plagiarized the same article. I’ll keep you posted.

Paul, I took your advice and filed a DMCA Complaint Form with Google AdSense. I was also able to locate their hosting company using the tool that you sent to me. When I have more time to pursue this, I’ll report the site to the legal department of their host.

Hey Sherryl! That’s great stuff! I had missed going through Paul’s comment before leaving mine (how bad of me!). Thanks to Paul too! It’s GREAT to know that Google IS interested. That’s a bright ray of hope! 🙂

Hey Sherryl – This is a tough one, isn’t it? I’ve come across my articles on numerous content scraping sites. The articles have usually been pulled from EzineArticles, ArticleBase, or one of the other article directories.

I almost always hop over to the offending site, leave a cease-and-desist comment (fully aware I’ll be ignored). But that’s about it because there is such a proliferation of content scraper code, software, plugins — you name, they’ve created it to rob you and earn money on your head.

I have a draft article about this subject on the back burner that I plan to finish and submit to EzineArticles. You can bet, the scrapers will scrape it too and proudly display it on their bogus sites! 🙂
Vernessa Taylor recently posted..Video Broadcasting Equalizer- WebcamMax With UStreamtv and SkypeMy Profile

Thanks for commenting Vernessa. I submit articles to EzineArticles too. That’s probably where they scraped it. I had heard about content scraping before but until it affected me, I hadn’t really given it much thought. Oh well, I always tell myself to not take business personally. I do feel like a lot of people can empathize with me and that’s good. 🙂

Hi Sherryl,

This guy came up to me the other day and whispered, “Pssst, hey buddy.”
He threw open his coat and said, “I got some Sherryl Perry blog posts here, real cheap.”

Without skipping a beat I replied, “Who?”

I have seen some of these article sites, including the one that stole my own work, and they have little or no traffic.

But to plagiarize a line from Oscar Wilde: The only thing worse than writing well enough to be plagiarized is NOT writing well enough to be plagiarized.

I spent months and months developing a software product that was probably stolen more often than it was purchased. I’m certainly not losing any sleep over a few words on paper 😉

Rick

Thank you for this fascinating article, Sherryl. I’ve seen a growing amount of scraping happening on my blogs and those of my clients. I’ve been scratching my head just as you were. I found your analysis and decision strangely comforting.

Though I’d like to line these scrapers up against a wall and not pick them for handball, I think the best reaction to having your content stolen is to produce new content.

I plan to add a link to your post in our Small Business Owner blog which, I see, you’ve just commented on. Thanks for that! And for this. Best regards, P. 🙂

No worries, Sherryl. I’m glad you dug it. You’ve added great value to our blog, so thank YOU! 🙂

Hi Sherryl :

Extremely intriguing blog post. This reminds me of the two incidents. Once I logged into a site where I saw somebody is selling my article from ezine articles along some other articles, for $9.99. I know they can easily take it from ezine article it is ethical, as it provides traffic to the writer, but selling it. I was up set for few and I did not even contact that person, it was a male name.

I saw my articles with lots of other articles written by other people, I clicked his RSS of the same blog, found all the articles in his name. From blog to RSS, because it was his blog, the property that he got from somewhere else became his own. In every article he had his own name.

These are the people who are born working with wrong way and will never change, me or you can not do anything about that.

You were doing the right thing to find the right way of handling the situation and it turned out to be going no where.

Thanks for the details you have given in your blog post. You are on the right track and think that it is for readers information and have to keep going. I hope you are doing okay emotionally.

All the best.

franA

Wow Fran! Thanks for sharing. I can’t believe someone was actually trying to sell your article! I guess if you’re going the “think of it as flattery” route, you should be very proud right now. 🙂 As Julie said, at least it gave me something to blog about and it’s much quicker to write a blog that’s a rant rather than something intense – like my article that was stolen. You must write great articles…. I’m off to check out your blog now! 🙂

This one is actually a little on the amusing side… although I know it doesn’t feel that way. An ezine article has a serious credibility factor and while the content may be good reading for a site visitor Google is very unlikely to give the reprint that goes out to the dozen or more he sold to much thought. Yes they will be indexed but as duplicates of each other and as obviously duplicates of ezine articles, your ezine post with its high PR will be mostly unphased. Run it through a social bookmarking tool a couple times to get some social bookmarks to it and its going to be a non issue as far as ezine goes. The fact that he was trying to sell it though is so incredibly ballsy that it makes me chuckle… as does the stupidity of anyone that doesn’t run the titles of what he’s selling through google before purchasing them (unless they don’t care). Reselling also pushes the line and makes it hard to answer to when does plagiarism stop and outright theft/crime begin. (Not saying plagiarism isn’t an offense but in the eyes legal enforcement its a different ballgame.)
Kimberly Castleberry recently posted..An Introduction To The Speed 2 Trust CommunityMy Profile

HI Sherryl. Hey – at least this unfortunate situation gave you fodder for this great blog post right? As you know, I did step one when I found my article on someone else’s site – that is to add a comment and tried to email but of course the email address was invalid. (I also posted a comment on your thief’s site remember?) Then I just moved on. I don’t have the energy, time, or resources to hunt people down. It is such a crappy state of affairs that others feel they can just “take” whatever they want and to make it worse – they earn money from your content? That would make me mad. Your posts are so valuable to your readers – it is just wrong!.

Joseph’s comments about Google are also a little disconcerting. But your approach to just continue on providing valuable content to your readers and ignore the immoral people out there – says a lot for your character. “They” say that people will get their just rewards. This blog reader truly appreciates all the help you offer in your blogs and looks forward to what your future posts will teach. 🙂
Julie Weishaar recently posted..The Printing Industry TransformedMy Profile

Julie, Would you believe the same article got stolen by another blog? Exactly the same – no author no originating URL. Gee…. I wonder how popular that one post will get?

Ugh, no easy answers here. All of the plugins in the world cannot stop someone from copying your content if they really want to.

It’s like with protecting your kids. You can even put them in a bubble if you want to, but sooner or later, someone will pop it.

I consider a job hazard. Anyone who produces content in any form, but especially online, is subject to copyright infringement.

Hi Sherryl, I too experienced a weird pingback about 2 weeks ago. I checked it out and my text was there but my name was nowhere. In a distant, unseen way, the pingback itself credited me; yet, when I went to the site there were no hotlinks. Google doesn’t like duplicate content so I wonder if that’s why Marie’s rank went down. At the same time, doesn’t Google know who posts first? Thanks for bringing this up.

Hi Catherine, apparently Google does not care who published an article first. What they do care about is the article kudos. What I mean by that is say for example you published first and you had 3 Google PR1 links back to your article. Yup, you’d probably rank top if you had a unique title – rank top for the article title, at the very least, and maybe rank top for a few long tail keyword phrases that are within your article body etc.. But, some scraper comes along and grabs your article and posts it to another site. Then that version of your article gets 5 Google PR1 links back to it. Who do you think is gonna rank top spot now for the same title and most probably for all the same long tail keyword phrases within your article, which you were previously in top spot for?

I’m afraid that Google could care less about who is first to publish. They merely care about the value and amount of the inbound text links as this is their way of deciding over-all popularity, with a few other factors thrown in of course (which includes amount of visitors who view your article).

But let’s face the facts here, there are quite a few scrapers on the market now and there are a ton of folks using them too. Is it possible to protect every single article we write, and if so, are we going to spend more than half our time trying to protect? Or are we simply going to go ahead and continue to create great quality work regardless of the content scraping and what have you. The more great work we create, the more benefits come our way, regardless of all the plagiarizm going on all around us.

Kind regards
Joseph

Very interesting points Jo. Thanks for bringing them up. Google ranking the thieves sites higher than mine is definitely a concern. What I find interesting is that this article was plagiarized a second time. I have no idea if it’s the same owner of two different blogs or a different blogger. Regardless, I need to concentrate on creating quality work regardless – as you pointed out. 🙂

Sherryl, as John essentially suggested above, what you need to do now is to focus on building a good dozen high PR backlinks to that page with good keyword anchor text. Then I’d probably also build another two dozen PR1/PR2 links for good measure. That type of link building, coupled with your own solid traffic, and the activity points your getting for having an active blog, will help establish you as the authority in Googles eyes.
Kimberly
Kimberly Castleberry recently posted..WordPress Plugin Review- WP Corner Peel PluginMy Profile

Kimberly, Thank you so much for taking the time to add your suggestions and share your knowledge with us. This is sound advice from both you and Jo. I’ll work on building those links.

Sorry I was the one who suggested Blog Protector Sherryl. Just goes to show a little knowledge can be very dangerous. After our correspondence I immediately deleted it so thanks for giving me the information.

I have had posts scraped and copied but after wasting time and not finding any way to contact them I gave up. At least I can see what happens via Google Alerts.

I wonder why WordPress allows these types of plugins to be available without protection for the original writer, or doesn’t it have any control over the plugins?
Susan Oakes recently posted..The Benefits of Chilling Out From MarketingMy Profile

Susan, I don’t remember you suggesting Blog-Protector at all. I thought you got the idea from me! 🙂

It was someone else that I took the suggestion from and I don’t blame her either. It was a good suggestion. That plug-in works exactly as promises and is used by lots of people. It’s just not a good fit for people like you and me who write information that we want people to be able to use.

I had heard about content scraping but knew very little about it up until now. I’m glad to hear that you feel the same way as I do about wasting time pursuing it. It’s too bad it’s happened to you too. This must be more common than I realized.

Susan, WordPress is community developed open source software, it has an open code base and anyone can develop on top of it. That’s the agreement and why it’s essential as bloggers that we not forget that its really not “free” but requires its community to regularly donate back code, time, development and beta testing.

Because of its modular nature ANYONE… you, me, and my cat… can write a plugin for wordpress. The only “restriction” is on what may and may not be added to the wordpress.org/extend/plugins repository (the same database you find when you do plugins -> add new -> search).

You’re just going to have to trust me a little when I say that there are plugins that exist that are WAY more illegal than what these are. At their core, these do nothing more than read an rss feed (which isn’t capable of being secured), and turning the content into a post. There are a TON of very very law abiding plugins that do nearly an identical behavior … such as turning someone’s twitter rss stream into posts. Please be careful of the same trouble our governments get into of regulating us to death with good intentions.

In fact many of these software programs DO have a way that the source COULD be credited. It’s not always easy to set up and because it creates another link off the page, diverts traffic, gives PR back to the author and a dozen other reasons most are simply choosing not to enable them.

Fire is dangerous… but we can’t outlaw fire just because we have some arsonists.

You will never see these plugins in the repository… first because they’re not open sourced licensed (which in and of itself is a law violation) and secondly due to a huge list of restrictions WP has on what it will include (it excludes several classes of plugins that are prone to abuse but harmless when used correctly and excluding them makes me mad.)

It honestly would not be mandatory for these autoblogs to exist on wordpress per se. If WordPress were to find some way to ban them from integrating (which won’t happen) all they would need to do is modify a copy of a blogging software code and ship it with their product and they would be back rolling.

Autoblogs do have their uses and can in fact generate some very interesting sites. This is a case of “its not the gun’s fault if the fault of the person that points it at you and pulls the trigger”.

So much of this would be a non issue if Google (and the other search engines too) had some way of tracking who the original author is (which it does not) and of not punishing the original author for duplicate content (which it does not have a way to not do), and if we that blog pay attention to teaching each other the importance of link building to our best posts.

(Of course that wouldn’t change that we not so secretly want to take the person that did in the middle of the town square and slap the snot out of them!)
Kimberly
Kimberly Castleberry recently posted..Hot Facebook Tip- Invite All of Your Friends At One TimeMy Profile

Hi Sherryl,
Sorry to hear about what you’ve experienced. I used Copyscape and I detected that some of my articles were copied as well so we’re on the same boat. Although I was really ticked off that those blogs I worked hard to write for my readers were stolen by others, I didn’t do anything about it. Not because I didn’t care less nor have the time to do something about it but because traffic to my site did not get affected anyway. Sure, those “thieves” may be generating income but the important thing is, my readers and I know who came up with it in the first place. Also, search engines would know which site (and who the true author is) published it first when they index your site so the credit would still belong to you.

Just my $0.02. Great post!

All the best,

Marie

Thanks Marie for the info. Sounds like you’ve had more experience with copyright infringement than I have. I checked out Copyscape but I’m not sure why I’d want to know when my articles have been plagiarized. If there’s nothing I can do about it, I’m more prone to wanting to take the “stick-your-head-in-the-sand” approach and be oblivious of it. I’d be interested in hearing your reasons for using it.

No problem, Sherryl. 🙂 The reason why I used Copyscape was because my page rank suddenly dropped to n/a from a PR2 so I needed to check all possible reasons and a friend suggested that it may be because of copyright infringement. True enough, I saw that most of my contents were stolen by someone else and posted it as their own, verbatim! I don’t check it anymore now though because quite frankly, I’m disgusted by their actions.

Marie, if you were not able to regain your PR… which happens if a site that has a higher PR than you do republishes your content… then I suggest taking the posts than were scraped and “framing” with a new introductory and conclusion paragraph. A handful of minor changes to the html (lists bullets, bolds, br tags) and you will likely have enough uniqueness to break the penalty. Unfortunately rather than crediting the original author, Google does not tend to keep track of that data (and since posts can be back dated) and this means when the ranking calculation is done that a site with a higher PR than you will have their post outrank yours. The framing technique is one of the few solutions that can help… a 30% content change can also help but I’d see if a quick round of reframing would be of assistance first. (Of course PR is only re-evaluated quarterly so its often hard to know what changes help)
Kimberly

Sorry to hear of your experience, Sherryl. Although plagiarism is a sore point for us writers, sometimes we just need to let it go if we really do want to keep our readers in mind first. I hope you will be able to find this less frustrating in the future and just look at it as a point of excellence, as no one would bother to plagiarize your content if it’s not any good at all.

Best Regards,
– Wes –

Sherryl,
Just now, I came back to your site to read the pay per click post. I had no idea that was the one that was stolen but I can certainly see why! You write excellent blogs that are highly valuable to readers. Of course that is no reason for someone to steal your content. So sorry you had to experience this. Hope it is some comfort to know that your readers will stay loyal to you and value your work.

Thank you for the kind words Keyuri! I’ve decided it’s in the past. On the other hand, my husband is still steaming over it and wants to go after the bad guys. As long as he does it without my help, more power to him. 🙂

Hi Sherryl, sorry to hear about what happened here! And you do hear about it more and more as the amount of content scraping software appears to be growing in popularity. I suspect that my own content is scraped or copy pasted too (or am I trying to inflate my ego 😉 ) but I’m not going to waste my time in trying to catch up with those who indulge in such practices. There are more important things for me to do. But nevertheless, I totally agree – very frustrating and annoying when you experience it first hand.

Kind regards Sherryl!
Joseph

Thanks Jo. I really felt violated and did want to pursue and stop the infringers. After Kim sent me a link to a WordPress plug-in that’s designed to scrape content, I felt more comfortable just moving on. On the light side, the experience gave me something to rant about this week. 🙂

Comments are closed.