Copyright and Plagiarism

Copyright ImageStealing 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.
  • You can disable the right click on your blog pages to protect your script and images but that adds another bit of javascript on your blog which then slows down your page load and none of us like slow blog pages.   Most who are going to steal your blog content on your website rather than through your feed will know how to by pass that though it can deter amateurs who really don’t understand that content on the Internet has a copyright as soon as it is published.  Some people also add extra CSS coding to position a transparent gif over their images so that only the transparent gif is downloaded rather than the image.
  • 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.

Feedburner

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.

 

Taking Action

  • 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 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.

Thanks
Rosie Leavesnbloom

8 Comments

  1. May 23, 2011 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for this info. I’ve been noticing some very strange Traffic Sources on my Blogspot stats, so now I have ways to check them out. I like to concentrate on the content of my blog rather than the techie side, but your info will help me get smarter about keeping things legitimate. In the last few months, I have been uncomfortable with the new cutesy approach to the blog postings of the Nature Blog Network, but this was a very relevant and informative posting. I hope to see more like this.

  2. May 23, 2011 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    This is an amazing and incredibly valuable post. Thanks so much for collecting such useful information! Time to register with DMCA.com…

  3. May 23, 2011 at 11:33 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the link to copyscape. I tried it out and discovered someone was stealing my content (and that of a bunch of my friends who blog) and re-publishing it wholesale on their site as a kind of feed of local nature news. Interesting idea except that it is totally illegal. It is like a twitter list but you republish the entire feed of everyone you follow. I was even more appalled to discover the person doing it was an organization I’m a member of and used to be on the board of. Wow how things have changed. A very stern letter has been sent their way. Unbelievable.

  4. May 24, 2011 at 2:54 AM | Permalink

    Glad the information has been useful to you both. As the old quote says………..

    Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory!

  5. May 24, 2011 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for this timely post!

    I would like to point out that Google Adwords will disable your site if your content has been copied.

    Let me say that again…I had Adwords refuse to let me use a quality established site as a landing page site because my content had been ripped off and was therefore not original or unique.

    I realize that they are incorrect about this but after 3 weeks of emailing back and forth, that was their final stance. Good luck getting them to change their minds!

    I’ll definitely be able to look into my big sites and see who’s stealing and try to put a stop to it.

    My gut feeling is that you still need a copyright lawyer on retainer and the money to fight these if you really want something done about it.

    I hope I’m mistaken.

  6. May 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    The one thing that you can take comfort in is that more and more Google is fighting against these scraping sites. They are devaluing them in the search results because frankly people don’t like them!

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t fight back against it, but at least it may become less attractive if they make less money from it.

  7. May 24, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    This is excellent. I’m totally going to copy this and put it on my blog.

  8. May 28, 2011 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, Rosie; this was very helpful information.

One Trackback

  1. By Protecting Your Blog From Plagiarism on May 23, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    [...] colleague leavesnbloom over at the Nature Blog Network posted a really useful and cogent look at Copyright and Plagiarism. I learned quite a bit from it. If you’ve got a blog that you want to protect from scrapers, [...]