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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Alex Villafania on Libel and Copyright in Blogging

February 4, 2010 | 2 Comments

Juned Sonido interviews Alex Villafania, former online at Inquirer.net, to discuss two of the most important legal issues in the contest of blogging and online media: copyright and libel. The latter is a hotter topic these days because of the libel complaint filed against blogger “Ella Rose” by the National Bureau of Investigation and Department of Social Welfare and Development. She previously claimed that the DSWD was not distributing relief goods during the Ondoy disaster. Here’s Alex’s comment on such a case:

Baratillo.net: Is the blogger or on-line media practitioner liable for comments said/posted on his blog, forum or website?

Alex: If the law is to be strictly followed, to the last word, yes. Because blogs and online media are public communiques, and are read by more than two people (libel requires 3 people or so — the 2 parties involved and a third-party to actually hear it), they can put under the libel clause.

Article 355 states that “a libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be punished by prision correccional….in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.” That also includes articles written in forums, email and yes, online stories and blogs.

Year in and year out, legal issues are one of the biggest topics at the iBlog Summit, and with yet another blogger making mainstream news, this will surely be tackled again. Alex Villafania’s interview is a glimpse into that discussion, so consider this an early look into that.

Catch the complete, must-read interview here.

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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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Manila Bulletin strikes back against Anton Sheker, claims fair use

July 21, 2008 | 3 Comments

Update: Anton Sheker confirms the story and shares his feelings on the matter.

What’s the latest development in this photographer-blogger lawsuit against Manila Bulletin for copyright infringement and damages? The newspaper has filed a counter lawsuit for exemplary and moral damages at 2 million pesos.

According to Abe Olandres, Manila Bulletin “claims fair use in its publication of the photos”. I’m not quite sure if Manila Bulletin or the Philippine copyright law is at fault here. I hope that our lawyer bloggers a.k.a. blawgers lend their expertise on the matter.

How does Anton Sheker feel?

Mixed emotions but the the fight for copyright and how this will affect any dealings with future copyright issues online pushes me forward…I can now scratch out this part of my bucket list!

I’m sure many Filipinos will be disappointed when it just so happens that the plagiarizing party comes out of this unscathed. Fair use or no fair use, does resorting to counter lawsuits and technicalities reflect the ethics of true journalism?

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