Protect Your Most Valuable Blog Resource, Stop Content Scraping and Plagiarism

September 17, 2010 | 8 Comments

There’s a very popular saying amongst bloggers, and it goes: content is king. As a blogger, your content is your most precious resource. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to let sploggers and feed scrapers take that away from me. Not if I can help it. Not if you can help it. How?

Label your feeds with copyright notices.

Add your name, website, and URL (site URL or post URL) to your feed so that when it is read elsewhere, others will know where it really came from.

Recommendation: FeedEntryHeader Plugin. Many feed customization plugins exist, but I like this particular plugin because it affixes the necessary information before the content of the post rather than after, as feed scrapers usually truncate the content. And if you can help it, spell out the URL in plain text to your website or blog post rather than link to it using HTML. Scrapers will definitely want visitors to think they didn’t steal someone else’s content.

Feedback: Do you use summaries instead of full feeds because you don’t want scrapers to access them? Or do you provide both?

Block questionable visitors.

If they can’t find your blog, they won’t be able to take advantage of it.

Recommendation: AntiLeech Plugin. This plugin ideally stops potential scrapers from accessing your website content and instead feeds them fake content. You can enter either IP addresses or User Agent strings that identify the scrapers. Read more about AntiLeech here.

The tricky part is figuring out who your enemy is. They will have to scrape your feed first for you to know about it, right? You can use ©Feed to figure out who is reading your feeds, but more often than not they actually send trackbacks to your post once they’ve scraped it, so you can get their IP address from that as well.

Feedback: Where do you find your IP address blacklists?

Disable hotlinking.

Hotlinking is a term that describes how other people use your content with your own server bandwidth, which is how much data your server transfers over a period of time. Every time someone loads your website, all those files that get loaded is equal to a certain bandwidth. So if people keep hotlinking your photos, music, or videos, your bandwidth quota for the month (or quarter or year) gets used up. Now hotlinking may not be an issue for you—if you have lots of bandwidth, and don’t care about attribution or who uses your content. Normally it is; it’s bad netiquette. If you do care, you need to stop people from hotlinking.

Recommendation: Hotlink Protection Plugin. Enter the file location which you want to protect, and if an external website loads any image from it, a different image will be displayed (which is customizable). Since images are the most common target anyway, this plugin will suffice.

Feedback: Do you host your own images or do you hotlink them from sites like PhotoBucket?

*Note: What the plugins can accomplish can also be done in less straightforward but more flexible methods like PHP programming, .htaccess editing, cPanel configuration, web applications.

Take action.

Protecting your content isn’t just about setting up defense mechanisms. You should be vigilant enough to find out if you’ve been scraped or plagiarized and then do something about it.

Recommendation: 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft. These are six long and tough steps, but if you value your work, you will be thankful when it gets you through:

  1. Detection
  2. Preserving the Evidence
  3. Contact the Plagiarist (if Practical)
  4. Contacting the Advertisers (optional)
  5. Contacting the Host
  6. Contacting the Search Engines

Feedback: Do you think Filipino bloggers stand a chance in a battle against plagiarism, with all these (US-biased) steps that need to be accomplished?

Feedback: Do you know that Creative Commons Licenses like the CC Attribution 3.0 License have been ported to play nicely with Philippine copyright laws?

Sugod mga kapatid!

Right now, fighting plagiarism especially in the form of sploggers and scrapers is very tedious. Hopefully things get easier in the future, but for now, at least we stand a very good chance against it.

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Reporting spam and plagiarism on WordPress.com

September 3, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Jonathan Bailey has a helpful guest post at Lorelle on WordPress discussing how you can help rid the WordPress.com community of spam and copyright abuse.

It’s easy to see why spammers would want to get on WordPress.com, with a PageRank of 9, great SEO and a built-in community, it could be haven for junk content. Many do try but the admins have been surprisingly effective, for the most part, at keeping them at bay.

He explains how WordPress.com can help you take down blogs infringing on your copyright and are using the hosted blogging service to spam unsuspecting victims. This is important whether you’re a WordPress.com user or not; you may very well be a blogger whose posts were scraped and published on their servers.

Now the folks running WP.com keep a watchful eye whether or not you get to the spammers and scrapers first, but it pays to help out too. Visit the Complaints section of WordPress.com for more information.

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Protect your content with Performancing and bLogics Copyright Management services

January 9, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Once you publish something on the Web, it’s very hard to take it back. Chances are it’s been syndicated, archived, cached, or worse, it’s been scraped and stolen by those don’t know any better way to make money online. Get help with protecting your precious work with Copyright Management services from Performancing and bLogics.

Our copyright experts will track down websites, blogs, forums and other sites that infringe on your rights as a publisher. We will then give you a comprehensive report with suggested courses of action. If you choose to, we can also act on these violations on your behalf, by initiating takedown notices and making sure your original content stays where it should–on your blog! Price includes initial consultation, tracking, initial report and appropriate action on three (3) infringing sites.

Sign up here or here.

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