Good Thief-Bad Thief: Stolen Blog
Have you ever wondered if the stuff you post online is safe from the content scrapers? Learn what to do to protect yourself and your content.
Several months ago, someone stole my wife Judy’s blog. Technically, they copied it word for word and slapped it up on the Web with a bunch of disgusting, spammy links.
Boy, was she pissed.
We had moved her blog from Typepad to WordPress and someone snatched up her old domain.
She’s still cleaning up the mess.
Through this process, we’ve learned how to protect our online content. Many of the strategies listed here work for all kinds of content, including online articles, audio, video and more.
5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Online Content
- Decide how much you are willing to give away.
Know your rights. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act spells out what copyright infringement looks like. If you know what’s legal and what’s not, it’s easier to recognize plagiarism.
Everyone feels differently about how much of their content they want to share, so you need to set your own rules. For me, it’s a good thief-bad thief thing.
I don’t have a problem with someone republishing my content. As long as they attribute the post to me and give a link back to my site.
I like it when my content is shared. When someone publishes an excerpt and links back to the full post on my site, that’s more than okay with me.
That would be the good thief.
Here is an example from one of Judy’s posts.
But reprinting a post word for word and slapping your name on it? Replicating an entire blog and stuffing ads all over it?
Okay, now you are the bad thief.
- Let people know what you do and don’t allow.
My licensing rights are through Creative Commons. The CC notice on my blog takes you to my licensing page, where it spells out what you can and cannot do with my content.
To get your own license, visit Creative Commons.
- Know when it’s happening.
One of the most popular ways of stealing blog content is through RSS feeds. If you have a WordPress blog, you can install the anti-feed scraper plugin to make your posts harder to scrape.
If thieves do steal your content, they’ll steal it complete with links to your original content and you’ll be able to see it in your blog stats.
Google Alerts is a handy tool because you can set up your terms and get an email with any content someone is publishing with that specific term.
- Contact the offender first and try to settle things.
Believe it or not, some people think that they can copy and reproduce anything they find on the Internet. I swear to God, they do.
It’s easier to ask them to take it down first, and often they will.
If this doesn’t work, before you start the Digital Millennium Copyright Act process (and be prepared for a serious time suck if you go this route), you can do two other things.
- File a spam report with Google.
- File a complaint with the person’s ISP if they have published your work on their site.
- Put other protection strategies in place.
Visit copyscape regularly. Put in your website or blog’s URL and get a report of duplicated content.
And on this site, you’ll find more strategies, like using an RSS signature and including a digital signature with your posts.
Just know that you can’t catch it all. Some things are going to slip through.
My theory, though, is that there is a special place in hell for content scrapers.
Have you ever had your online content swiped?
Do you have other content protection strategies to share?
About the Author
Bob Dunn is a WordPress trainer and coach. He provides support, webinars, & one-on-one coaching. He also provides WordPress training to small businesses and corporations. Visit bobwp.com