Stealing is wrong but unfortunately some people on the Internet just don’t seem to understand this when it applies to the intellectual property of a blog post. Most of us don’t mind small excerpts of our posts on other blogs with a link back to the original blog post but how many of you have ever found your blog posts or photographs on another blog that hasn’t asked permission to use it? I’ve had this problem on my leavesnbloom blog and I’m sure many others have too.
Are you aware that there are feed scrapers/aggregators out there who might subscribe to your blog and then steal your content through your RSS feed? Once they publish your blog post they will use the work you spent precious time writing to make money through all of the ads on their site and some even go as far as making it look as if they were the authors of the original work.
How can we try to protect our blogs?
I have to say first and foremost that it is really impossible to fully protect your blog from scraping/ripping but nowadays it is alot easier to find out if it is being ripped and then take action.
- When writing a blog post you can include several links back to other pages on your blog though some automated scraping programs will strip any internal links from your blog post. Johnathan Bailey who is the founder and author of Plagiarism Today has just recently written a good article on writing techniques that discourage plariarism.
- Register your blog posts with DMCA.com protection and takedown services which actively combats copyright infringement online. Once you have registered your blog (free registration) then place a protection badge on your site and from then on you can monitor your protected pages and images.
- Never use full resolution images on your web page. Always reduce them in size to between 400 – 800 pixels on the widest side depending on the width of your blog and if you use editing software like photoshop like myself then save them “for web and devices” at around 30 – 60% of their quality.
- Write your web address in full on your images (free software like Picasa will allow this and also sites likes Photobucket). It’s easier to see who the original content belongs to when there is a web address on the images as I’ve contacted a few bloggers this way when I’ve found their original material posted in full on a scraper site. You can also use the DMCA watermark facility (free) or Digimarc digital fingerprint service.
- You can register your work with a copyright registry like Safe Creative
Short or Full RSS Feed?
Firstly you need to decide whether or not you want to have a short or a full rss feed. If you choose a short feed then your feed subscribers will only have a little snippet of your blog post in their reader or email and they will have to click to go to your blog to read the rest of the post. If the rip is taken from this feed they only rip a few lines of text and no images.
Many people don’t like using a short feed and decide on a full feed for their subscribers. In Blogger you can add a Post script copyright notice to your full feed. (go to settings, site feed) Try to make your copyright notice quite unique with the full www. address of your site mentioned in the notice. Then create a google alert for that piece of copyright text and every time that text appears on the Internet google will send you a daily notification which you can check to see whether the link refers to your site or a scraper site. WordPress has a few plugins that will help track down scrapping like ©Feed and you can then add your own copyright notice through this plugin. I’m not an active wordpress user but this post about ©Feed from Technically Easy gives a good write up on the plugin.
If you use feedburner for your RSS you can add some feedflares and one of them is a copyright notice in your feed burner footer (there are plenty of websites explaining how to do this better than I ever could )
How do I find out if my blog is being scraped?
- Firstly if you are a member of DMCA.com( free to register) you should be able to scan for duplicate copies of your blog posts and images from your log-in page.
- Another way is to use Copyscape which is a free plagiarism checker. Just add the url of one of your blog posts into their search bar and their software will detect whether or not there have been copies made of your original article.
- Create google alerts for your unique copyright post script and for some of your most popular blog post titles and every time this script is used on the web google will send you a daily notification via email of those links.
- Use Tineye to check for illegal use of your images.
- Check the trackbacks on your blogposts.
- If you have access to your .htaccess file you can block specific IP addresses. There is some good information on how to do that here.
- If you find that your blog posts have been ripped then the first thing to do is to contact the website explaining that it’s illegal and ask them to take the content off within 24 hours or else you will inform their host.
- If the content is still up after 24 hours then perform a WHOIS search for the host or inform their blogging platform. If you have a blogger blog you can file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint with Google (here is a great article on reporting copyright violations on Blogger blogs) or else use DMCA.com takedown services.
- If the blog is selling through Etsy or seems to be affiliated to a blogging community like Nature Blog Network then let them know aswell. Here at NBN we will swiftly remove the offending blog from our directory.
I’ve probably given you all too much information here to take in at once but please bookmark this post for future reference. Just as Problogger mentioned in their “Is Blogger Copyright dead ………..if you too are reading this blog post anywhere other than at http://natureblognetwork.com/blog/ you’re reading an illegal rip of the original!
Edit to Add: Since this blog post was published Google have now introduced a new way of deterring feed scrappers through their Authorship Markup Scheme using rich snippets.
Please let us know what you think of this topic in the comments section below.