Splogs And Scraper Sites

Boy, is this ever becoming a problem!

I don’t claim to be among the best writers on the internet, but when I write something and publish it on my blog, it belongs to me! It is immediately protected by copyright, and no-one has permission to copy and use it for any purpose not protected by Fair Use.

Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Library of Congress
U.S. Copyright Office

Nevertheless, my work (and yours) is being copied on a daily basis by splogs and/or scraper sites.

Sploggers are almost certainly the most prolific plagiarists on the Web. A handful of determined and capable sploggers can swipe content from literally thousands of different sites, scraping their RSS feeds and taking their content as their own.

Plagiarism Today, by Jonathan Bailey

It’s plagiarism, pure and simple. But what can we do about it? I wrote to one person requesting that he remove my work from his blog. He wrote back and said, ” […] sue me or shut up.”

I told him that I was going to write about him, and expose him as the “serial plagiarist” he is. His reply? “Think what you may, but watch what you say.”

He also threatened me with a lawsuit! Can you believe the audacity?

Quite frankly, I am sick of these thieves stealing my work and using it, whatever their reasons. But what do most of us do when we get pingbacks from these parasites? Delete them and move on. That is, if Akismet doesn’t delete them for you automatically, in which case you may never even know (I check mine just to make sure no legitimate comments get filtered by mistake).

Well, starting right now, I will no longer look the other way while cheats and thieves rip me off. They thrive on the fact that bloggers like you and me generally do not respond to the violations they commit against us by stealing our work. While the pingbacks generally get caught in our spam filters, this is not spam in the traditional sense. It is a notice to you that your work has just been stolen! Don’t ignore it!

Lorelle VanFossen has written an excellent article entitled What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content. Notice she did not say “if”, but “when”.

An excerpt:

As the number of websites and blogs grow, especially splogs, the demand for content puts more pressure on website administrators, who may resort to stealing content in order to fill space on their sites and attract traffic. Website hijacking, as such an example, is on the rise. This is the blatant use of part or all of your site’s content on another site without permission. This is also a copyright violation and needs to be dealt with accordingly.

I highly recommend reading the entire article. There are steps we can take to deal with this increasingly problematic issue. Lorelle has done a beautiful job of comprehensively outlining those steps. Taking action is really not as difficult or complicated as you may have previously thought.

One thing that Lorelle seems unable to stress strongly enough, however, is that revenge tactics are not the way to go! They are very likely to backfire on you:

DO NOT SEEK REVENGE: Spamming, publicizing, or abusing the content thief will only bring suffering back to you. Stay professional. Defacing someone’s website, targeted spamming, and even publicizing the copyright violation can lead to criminal and legal action being taken against you. Even if legal action is not brought against you, your reputation may be ruined by such attacks. Be professional. There is a time and place for public outcries. The beginning of the process is not the time to go public.

Contact The Thief

I’m so glad I found this article when I did! Right or wrong, I could have ended up on the wrong side of a court room!

Please see my new page, Copyright Notice. Make one of your own as well. But don’t stop there — read Lorelle VanFossen’s article and follow the steps toward stopping these content thieves. Remember, they thrive on the fact that far too many of us look the other way.

Also, the copyright stamp at the bottom of this post links to my new Copyright Notice. I will be adding it to all of my posts from now on. When my posts are scraped, the link will be scraped along with them. It won’t stop the scrapers, but it does give me at least some immediate control over the content that is stolen from my blog. From there, I can begin the process of dealing with it.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

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12 responses to “Splogs And Scraper Sites

  • Lorelle VanFossen

    Glad my article helped. For a long time, people believed that scrapers and splogs only took the content of the “famous” which has never been true. They thrive on taking the content from everyone and anyone, and the smaller the better – they are less inclined to fight back.

    We have to attack this issue on many levels, and you’ve started out well. We have to educate ourselves and our readers that taking something that doesn’t belong to you is wrong. Even if it is pictures and text.

    We have to be VERY CLEAR on our copyright policy. It is ours, and our content, to set the rules on how it is to be used. Want to give it away free, then say so. Make sure everyone knows. Don’t? Then make sure you clearly state what is acceptable and what isn’t.

    Be open to sharing. There are great ways of repurposing and republishing your content around the web with your permission, and often as a source of income. If you are open to that possibility, ensure contact information is easily accessible.

    Fight back the right way. Revenge is not an option. Nor is threats. There are tools that will work for us, not against us, so follow the guidelines and steps carefully and protect your rights.

    Remember that you are not just fighting for yourself and protecting your content. For every one person who fights back, thousands allow this to continue. It’s an unhill battle but with people like Jonathan Bailey and YOU, we will win the war.

    Thanks!

  • Lottie

    Thank you so much for commenting here, Lorelle. As I continue pursuing this problem, I’m sure I will refer back to your article often, just to make sure I’m keeping on the right track.

    I’ll also start looking into ways of allowing my content to be used within certain boundaries, as you suggested. For right now, I just needed to draw a definite line in the sand that said, no more!

    Thanks again for your stopping by here and for your commitment to this very important cause.

    Sincerely,
    Lottie

  • Gary Murning

    Excellent post, Lottie! I knew if I waited long enough you’d end up writing it yourself 😉 And damn fine job you did, too.

    Lorelle’s site is also incredibly invaluable. It strikes me, though, that posting a copyright notice at the end of each article with a link back to one’s own website is a pretty perfect solution. I have absolutely no problem with my work — my blog writing, that is, not my fiction, which is a different matter entirely! — being used in full on other sites as long as I am credited as the author and a link back to my site is included. It’s those where these are omitted that I have a problem with and this fixes that.

    With a link and credit, it’s free publicity. Without, it’s theft — as we all know. Maybe the ideal solution is simply to force the link and credit in this way and turn the latter into the former. A positive from a negative, perhaps?

    I’ll certainly be trying it. Thanks for suggesting it, Lottie!

  • Lottie

    Thanks for the positive feedback, Gary. I always love hearing from you. I’m your biggest fan! ::crazed grin:: LOL

    Seriously, though, I object to the scraping on principle. I can force the link, but I also want to decide who reposts my work and for what purpose, and we all reserve the right to say, “Hey! I don’t want to be associated with [whatever]”.

    One site that copied my work, scrapes about 20 or 30 posts per day from the look of things. It’s done in a way that makes it appear as though all the people are actually authors at that blog — Posted by Lottie on [date] . I don’t like that. At least this way, I’m sure to be notified, and I can have a look and decide for myself what to do.

    But you’re right — it can turn into free publicity if we play it right! You always show me the silver lining and I appreciate that!

    Thanks! 😀

  • Gary Murning

    One site that copied my work, scrapes about 20 or 30 posts per day from the look of things. It’s done in a way that makes it appear as though all the people are actually authors at that blog — Posted by Lottie on [date] . I don’t like that. At least this way, I’m sure to be notified, and I can have a look and decide for myself what to do.

    Now, you see, that doesn’t really bother me all that much — unless there’s some really extreme stuff on the site in question along with my material. I tend to feel that most regular blog readers are pretty savvy where these sites are concerned and know that the articles are scraped, and that they can access the origin site by clicking on the author’s name.

    You are quite right, though. Forcing the link upon them at least gives us the option of taking action if we feel we must. It’s empowering — and that is vitally important.

    Good work!

  • Lottie

    To me, it feels like the difference between being asked for a loan or a handout, and having my purse snatched. The scraping just makes me feel violated. But I certainly see where you’re coming from as well.

    Forcing the link is definitely empowering (that’s the word I was searching for)! At this point, that’s the most important thing to me. I’ll take everything else a step at a time.

    Thanks for the plug, by the way. 😀

  • Lottie

    Lorelle:

    I’m really sorry about spelling your name wrong over and over. I used to know someone named Laurell and must have been having a brain stick or something!

    I’ve corrected it in the post and in my previous comment to you as well.

    –Lottie

  • Lorelle VanFossen

    Thanks for noticing the name. I appreciate that.

    As for the copyright notice at the bottom of the blog posts, that is not a guarantee. It does nothing more than remind people this is copyrighted material. EVERYTHING you publish that is original is copyrighted. No reason to remind anyone, but it helps because many don’t know what it is. But you don’t have to.

    Good luck and thanks again for spreading the word.

  • Lottie

    Hi Lorelle!

    I’m doing it more for the purpose of forcing a link back to my site. I just figured I’d go the extra mile and make the link a copyright notice while I was at it. But you’re right — our work is automatically copyrighted the minute we publish it to our blogs. Lots of folks think that if there is no copyright stamp, it’s not under copyright, when that’s not the case at all.

    Thanks for stopping in again! I’ve been reading more of your blog and will continue checking in there.

    –Lottie

  • Gary Murning

    I would be interested in what Lorelle thinks of the “forced link” approach.

    My main concern, I must admit, as well as being made aware of my work being posted elsewhere is to ensure that my name is associated with it and that any reader who likes it can find a way back as easily as possible to my site. Yes, I’m hoping we can ultimately prevent these sites from doing this kind of thing — but in the meantime I want to at least try to turn it to my advantage.

  • Lottie

    Yes, I’m hoping we can ultimately prevent these sites from doing this kind of thing — but in the meantime I want to at least try to turn it to my advantage.

    That’s exactly my reasoning too, Gary. I’d be interested in hearing from Lorelle on it as well. Maybe she’ll stop back by.

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