Racoon Blogger
Photo by jackieb163

A delicate problem every blogger is facing at present date, is the issue of content theft. Notice I said every blogger, as no blog is spared of copyright theft, no matter how big or small it is. It’s a question of when, not if, so it’s important to realize that’s imperative you take the necessary precautions and measures when faced with copyright violations. Content theft has been around, since the first words have been put on paper, there’s always been vile people around to make other’s people hard work their own, but with blogging the phenomenon has deepened even further, due to the thousands and thousands of splogs.

Back in autumn, I had the change to attend a really cool blogging workshop, called Blogoree (thanks Bobby), in which the main theme of discussion was copyright violations and virtual thefts. I’ve learner a great deal on the subject, that day, and with that in mind I documented myself even more, on how I can protect and enforce my blog’s content. Now after months of reading, coaching and practicing I’ve managed to learn a great deal, both legal and “street smarts” wise, on how to protect my blog against content thefts.

Before I continue with my article, please bare in mind, that I’m far from being a legal expert, the whole post is based solely upon my experience and the advice/pointers listed bellow, may actually cause harm. If you’re in any legal predicament, please contact a professional, aka a lawyer. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go on.

Preventing And Protecting Your Blog’s Copyright

Rocky Racoon
Photo by nemo585

Because bloggers are one of the most prone people of getting plagiarized, due to the simple copy/pasting involved, it’s always for the best to try to minimize it’s effects, by discouraging various copycats.

  • Make your own Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is one of the best things that happened to the Internet, in like…forever. What this remarkable service does is it enables you to make your own content distribution license, absolutely for free, so that your writing, photos, videos or anything you’ve created, is protected. It’s basically a sign telling people, if you’re content is available for mixing, process or for most lowlives, copying. The service is extremely easy to use and you can make your own license in a matter of seconds, you just have to specify if you’d like your content to be available for commercial use and if you allow modifications to your work. In example here at Lost Art Of Blogging, you’ll free to remix, distribute, display, share my work, as long as you mention me via a link and don’t use my work for commercial use, meaning you have to not make money off of my work. I just came a cross a cool Wordpress plugin called Creative Commons Configurator, that ads your CC license at the end of each post and in the blog’s head (visible only to robots); should prove very useful.Your content, if original is copyrighted by a US law (if the lammer is from outside of the US, you’ll have a hard time making him back down), called Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA. Some critics fear Creative Commons could make copyright law more complex, but what you have to keep in mind is that, Creative Commons isn’t a law nor does it add or subtract anything from the law. It’s simply a license based on copyright law. It doesn’t change the law any more or less than any other license, such as a EULA. It can spur changes in the law, but it doesn’t effect changes just by existing.
  • Protect your RSS feed. A lot of people and a even large amount of automated blogs, will often use your blog’s RSS feed to automatically steal your content, so the least you could do is protect it, by adding a few lines at the end of a article, visible only via RSS. Something like “If you’re reading this anywhere else, besides LOAB, then this article has been shamefully stolen,” is pretty cool, but a “Copyright (c) 2007-2008 LOAB,” will do the trick too. With this in mind there’s a large amount plugins available on the web, like Angsuman’s Feed Copyrighter Plugin, ©Feed, Simple Feed Copyright, or even the CC-Configurator plugin I wrote about a few lines above.
  • Write a special Copyright page. It may be a good idea to make a all new blog page, in which you’ll write all sorts of copyright related stuff and various rules, like what people are allowed to do with your content, what they’re not allowed to and the consequences of disobeying them. Hopefully this will both educate people on what they can do with someone else’s content and discourage plagiarizers.A great example of this can be found at Dosh Dosh.

Spot The “Blogiators”

The first step to fixing a problem is identifying it or in our case find out who’s copying your content, so that you can then take the necessary measures. The most common and most of the time effective way of tracking down plagiarists is using Google. Just open Google and run a search, but don’t query your post’s title though, it’s true most of them are to lazy to even modify it, but some do; so the most sure way of finding them is to look for a specific and clear representative paragraph from your article and then query that up. It should pop you up with some interesting results, if not you’re in luck and your respective content hasn’t been stolen or the copied article is either non indexed or slightly modified.

The Google method is somewhat primitive, but does it job well; for more elaborated tracings though, it’s better to use more specialized tools, that are built with one task in mind only and that of finding copied content. The best and most well known are Sentinel and Copyscape, however, they solicit premium paid accounts. A small price to pay, though, for ones work.

Enforcing Your Copyright

Behind
Photo by Radio Rover

Ok, so you’ve spotted the culprit, now it’s time to deal with him, hopefully in a amiable way, if that’s not possible, then there’s more drastic measures we can take.

1. Contact the plagiarist. A very straight forward way of dealing with people, stealing your content, is by contacting them, in a really mannerly way. Don’t freak out! I know it can be really stressful, when someone calls your work their own and on top of that use it to gain a profit too, but it’s important to keep your nerve, be calm and deal with the issue. Just drop him a line and explain to him, that he’s broken your copyright infringement and that he should immediately retreat the respective copied content from he’s blog. Some people actually believe their doing nothing wrong in coping other people’s work, considering a internet a big freebie pool; that’s why it’s pretty important to work on “preventing and protecting your blog’s copyright.” After you send him the e-mail, most “bloggers” will take the stolen content down immediately, if you add a law suit paragraph too, you’ll have faster and better results too. Cease and Desist Stock Letter.

How can I get in touch with the plagiarist blogger? Well most people have a e-mail or contact form listed, so you can talk to them, but if you happen to come across one that hasn’t you can try to look up his details via a WhoIs procedure. A WhoIs query can return all sorts of information about a website, like when the domain’s been register, when it’s gonna expire, where and with which hosting company the domain is hosted (will come in handy) and among other things, it lists the full name and address of the website’s owner. There’s a lot of WhoIs services you can use, I personally use Who.Is. Unfortunately registrant information can be easily faked and while it may still be correct, if it’s a automated spam blog, you’d be virtually writing the e-mail for nothing. Let’s see what else we can do then.

2. Issue a take down notice to the plagiarist blog hosting company. If the website, responsible for copying your content, isn’t answering or complying with your e-mails, then you need to take this another step further and send a DMCA notice to it’s web hosting firm. If the respective hosting company is located in the US, it’s protected and encouraged to take down the stolen content and actually is authorized to suspend the abusing website. You can easily find out which hosting services a website is using, by followin the same step as in the contacting point, meaning via WhoIs. You’ll be listed with full details about the OSP, including the website’s IP address, nameservers and geographical location. The next step is contacting the respective web host via e-mail or phone; all respectable hosting companies have some contact information, of any sort, listed somewhere. Before taking the time to write the e-mail, be sure you’ve got your facts right and you’ve got positive proof (screenshots, cache logs etc) that your blog’s content has been stolen. This is serious business and the last thing you need is making an ass out of yourself. Here’s a stock letter of a DMCA Host take down notice.

If you’re facing a off-shore web hosting company, then US copyright laws won’t apply and the situation might go on unresolved. Don’t give up though, it ain’t over quite yet.

3. Send a DMCA notice to the domain registrar. If you didn’t had to much luck with approaching the plagiarists web hosting provider, then you can try your luck with it’s domain registrar. Few people actually contact domain registrars, for copyright infringements and even fewer people actually get a positive response. It won’t take much of your time though, so what the heck, right? First find out what registrar company the respective domain is registered too, by using the same technique listed above (whois), head over to the companies homepage and file an abuse. Hopefully the registrar will receive the e-mail and take the necessary measures, implied by the US internet copyright laws, which can result in temporary/permanent domain name suspension. Use the same contact stock letter, as in the OSP take down notice, just make sure you revise it where necessary.

Again, if the registrar is a off-shore one, there’s a minimum chance of actions being taken against.

4. Send abuse and duplicate content notices to search engines. This is actually the most effective way to deal with a plagirist blog, that doesn’t wish to cooperate, as it almost always wields results. Basically what you’ll do is send an e-mail to various search engines, like Google or MSN, with copyright infringement notices, which if found conclusive and well based, will often lead to banning of the respective websites. Thus you’ll be hitting two birds, with one stone: one you’ll be teaching the plagiarist a lesson and second you’ll rankings will be rehabilitated and duplicate content penalties removed. Check out various search engine DMCA’s from: Google, Yahoo, Live.

Shy Racoon
Photo by w e n d y

5. Denigrate the plagiarists and their blogs. Head over to a few copyright related boards (Ultra Shock, Intellectual Property etc) and report the fact, that the respective domain has been scraping your content, with no approval, incriminating your copyrights. You can do the same with niche boards, in example if you own a blog about SEO and another blog copy/pastes your posts, you can head over to a SEO based forum and rant over there. This will create a bit of buzz, that will hopefully denigrate and label the plagiarist blogger, together with his websites, as a spammer and overall douche bag, and no one wants to be associated with a douche; especially advertisers. While I’m sure he won’t remove the stolen content out of pure shame, he’ll most probably remove it due to word of mouth fear.

6. Contact the thieving web site’s advertisers. If you want to make some real damage, that’s sure to make the spam blog regret the day it ever messed with yours, then send some take down notices to the monetization network it’s using. Most probably he spam blog, will be using Google Adsense, so what you’ll gonna do is send a DMCA take down notice to Google, much the same way you would with the search engine notice and you’ll most likely ban his ass. Some goes with Yahoo, Adbrite or any other respectable advertising network. Although you’ve not effectually taken down or removed the infringing content, you’ve cut the spam blog’s pipe line and with income stream the respective splog is dead and no use to plagiarist. Hopefully it will be abandoned and the content scraping will stop.

7. Proceed with legal action. This method should be kept as a last result only and only used if it’s really worth all the effort and financial expense. Truth is, the time and money you’ll spend, while suing the incriminated blogger, is not worth it, no matter what’s the nature of your content (there are exceptions). If you’d like to make a example and discourage any future scraping attempts or simply caught a grudge, then it court action may be a solution. A fun way of dealing “legally” with a plagiarist, is having a lawyer friend of yours sending a really pompous and official looking take down letter at his home address (it’s usually listed in the who.is info), stating if he doesn’t comply he’ll be in a lot of trouble and get prosecuted. It should definitely cause a big scare and I’m almost certain the first thing he’ll do, after reading the letter, is taking down the violated content. A reason most of the steps above don’t work is the fact that most people don’t care and don’t take you seriously; it’s quite interesting how mindset change when faced with a simple piece of paper.

Conclusions And Last Words


 
Sadly, fighting internet copyright infringements and violations, most of the time, is like battling with the wind mills. Basically most cases are just to small, to actually pay attention to and it seems whenever you take one down, there’s always 3-5-10 other splogs to take their place. Despite all this, there’s no need to despair or lose faith, never give and whenever you find someone scraping your hard work, don’t leave it unpunished, it may all be in vain, it really isn’t. Through your efforts you are fighting for preserving the integrity and value of your blog, the main principle around anti-plagiarism.

Stock letters via Plagiarism Today (a must visit).

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  1. Deeljehuiswerk

    Great post. There are some useful tips! And the images of the racoon do make it more fun. ;)

  2. Keith

    Once, a local real-estate agent stole some affirmations I had listed from my book “365 Great Affirmations”…and they showed up in the google search in front of mine when I searched on keywords great + affirmations! I did just that…contacted the dude and then he apologized and included a link to my website showing where he got the affirmations from..in fact, he received TONS of compliments about the affirmations…(at least I know my work is good)…so my suggestion is do NOT give everything away for free on the net…give a nice and healthy sample, but guard your basic product well (unless you have a corporate sponsor for all of your research and web costs). It is the product’s eventual sale that allows us to stay in the game. Nice article…kudos!!!
    Keith Johnson, Hallandale, FL
    http://greataffirmations.com

  3. Justin

    Well said! Thanks for this post. It takes a lot to get me to leave a comment, and this definitely warrants one. It’s a problem and bloggers need their rights protected. Great post, keep up the good work.

  4. Tibi Puiu

    @Deeljehuiswerk: thanks man
    @Keith: you’re story resonates with so many others. Usually people copy from offline works, like books, thinking it’s not anywhere else on the web, and then paste it on their websites/blogs. Most get caught and if your book is popular enough, I’m sure you’ll have a bundle of tracking down to do :D. I’m glad though that you’ve managed to work it out, in that particular case. Did you get a full public apology and disclosure?
    @Justin: I’m flattered … i guess. Thanks for the support.

  5. brad

    The old addage is that you can draw more frlies with honey, so yeah I see what you are saying. I’ve wondered about this though. Suppose there are people repeatedly having to be “asked” to comply with your license, or even someone who refuses to do so. Would it be possible to go to small claims court, and sue. I know it wouldn’t be a lucrative thing for the person suing, but it seems to me that they not only stole a product, but in doing profited from it, however slightly, in ad revenue for every person viewing. Additionally you lost revenue because those people never came to your site to view the content you created. Sure it’s not a lot of money, but it would get the point across.

  6. Mark

    Thanks for the info. I don’t have a blog yet, but am thinking of starting one. I just want to add that you need to clean up some of your language errors; there are many of them.

  7. Chip

    A common problem I’m facing right now is trackbacks and pingbacks. I find my article rewritten somewhere else without mentioning my blog. So I started searching for a solution, and I found RSS Footer plug-in for WordPress.

    What it does is simply add to the end of the article (only in the RSS feed) a line stating “Original article from … my blog”. Now, all my stolen and syndicated articles have a link to my blog.

    @brad: “Additionally you lost revenue because those people never came to your site to view the content you created.”

    Eventually, smart readers will distinguish between the original article and the stolen one.

  8. Jeanne Dininni

    Tibi,

    Great piece–very thorough and well-researched! I’m in total agreement with you that no one has the right to post your work without your permission. (My entry to Matt Jones’s blogging contest on Blogging Fingers was a satire and not meant to be taken seriously!)

    Have a great day!
    Jeanne

  9. Tibi Puiu

    @Jeanne Dininni: Yeah I figured it out, that it was ironical, after the second read, but had already posted the comment :P. Sorry my humorous side lacks :<

  10. Don

    Brilliant post;i have been thinking on starting a section on legal standings of online work bloggers do etc but due to time constraints it is filed away for future reference.

    One point i must stress though is that you contact the infringer; alot of the information i have on my site is from 1) other authors or forum posts etc.

    earlier this week i got such a notice from a firm of solicitors telling me i had plagiarized from site ‘x’, this information itself i had obtained from a different source after asking permission from who i though was the apparent author. This i all forwarded to the firm and the webmaster of the site in question, whom i yet to recive a reply from.

    My point being though some times good people (:D) are just in bad circumstances and will try to resolve the matter if you just inform them in a kind way.

  11. ron

    you mean like this web page stealing your content?

    http://www.feeds4all.com/Item.aspx?ItemID=16908694

  12. Tibi Puiu

    @ron: yeah, exactly.

  13. MSN hacken

    Yes, I agree with this. A lot of my competitors stolen my content before it was crawled by Google. The most times they were crawled first, so Google thought always I was the one with duplicat content, sometimes it is so annoying me.

  14. artizle

    really a good post, i have learned much from it,

    one thing i should like to add is that, i have seen blogs where right click is disabled and when u right click on blogs like that a message is displayed so this strategy is also very effective for dealing with content theives, but it cant protect your feed.

    http://artizle.blogspot.com

  15. Netty Gritty

    hello tibi,
    a job well-done. it was a wonderful read.

    and guess what, i appreciate the racoon pics even more! :D

  16. Who ?

    Just a tough…
    What would happend in the world if there were only one bakery,
    only one supermarket, in only one city ????
    Just die and desolation…

  17. dcasey

    Thanks. I am thinking about blogging, but also want to publish seriously. This was very informative, especially with the links.

  18. Saravanan

    In my view if we want a spam free world all plagiarists should be identified and take the above steps to stop them. Sounds hectic right ;)

    I totally agree with the author and it’s a very nice article about a cyber crime. Even I am newbie to blogging and I will definitely follow the tips provided here. Thanks buddy for such a wonderful article

    One additional info for bloggers, before publishing their content they can ensure that they are the true owners of their content by searching here http://www.copyrightsearch.org/ and know that their content / stuff is unique enough.

  19. Tommy Andrews

    This stuff is actually mine. I wrote it 20 years ago and now I have to sit here on the street in a cardboard box with a stolen laptop… outside a cheap fucking cafe…
    I wrote a lot of stuff you know… I could have been real rich. The jerks selling my work are. They are up there… with all the hot girls and big bucks… publishing…
    Sometimes I wonder if it was because I left all my notes lying around that time in the gym…
    Anyway, I wanted to share a message with you all: Get yourselves a lawyer, an accountant, an agent and put high security on all your writing BEFORE you even start any writing. Just to be on the safe side.
    Now there is nothing overprecautious or dubious about that. You are just making sure that everything is in the right place and nice and safe and that all those people out there who are ready to offend the hell out of you the second you write your first word will be put in their right place.
    I know how it is: you write something and you know it’s one of a kind, it’s something that has taken a long time to produce, like a shit when your constipated… and then someone steals it. Now, disassociate your work with the metaphor of shit, because it’s not, but it’s been a lot of effort, difficult to squeeze out and it’s precious to you, very precious and your not going to be happy about someone stealing it because you know how much fucking effort it is to write something again, to make something again…
    That’s why I’m here.. outside… in the rain now… shit! I was hoping it wouldn’t rain tonight!!!
    Anyway, get those lawyers on the case!!!!

  20. Nictallotte

    Engaging writing hope to visit soon=)

  21. Jane H.

    Your blog was great. I was using to learn how to copyright my blog but this post went far beyond that. Yesterday I was looking at my WebStats for my podcast website (not my blog) and found a site, Odea, as a top referrer. I went to check it out: When I clicked on the URL provided, all of my podcasts were on this site! The site actually had my copyright notice, making it appear that they had permission to show my podcasts, but they had never contacted me for permission. Furthermore, the URL only incorporated the audio download, so the user was never brought to my actual website, thus bypassing my advertisements, and potential revenue.
    Apparently what they would do is download the audio, incorporate it onto their server, and show it from there (and sell their advertising).

    Having just read your blog, and it thus being fresh in my mind, I sent a nice little email last night to them, just as you advised, and sure enough this morning all of my podcasts were removed from their website (and unfortunately replaced with new and different ones, from another unsuspecting website-owner and businessperson).

    Thanks for this important post and coverage on this important topic.

  22. Lydia

    So far this has been the most helpful and detailed listing of tips for protecting yourself as a blogger. We’ve had a couple of downright pirate types just download (in one day) 255+ posts on our blog, which is completely original content and we were pretty disconcerted about it. In addition to the Creative Commons License, which we placed a long time ago, we also placed a copyscape banner on our blogs. We have been repeatedly advised that we can also BLOCK the particular IP culprit involved in the massive download. Is this cool and what would be the easiest way to do it?

    I must say however, the rest of your tips are really worth following up. Thanks very much for the great information.

  23. Suhasini

    I totally agree with the author that people should be careful before starting their blog and should be aware of copyright laws and act accordingly.

    It’s always painful to know that our content is being stolen by some body else. It’s worse than burglary.

    It’s also wise to cross refer sites like http://www.copyrightsearch.org to ensure that even by mistake we are not using other’s content, especially in the field of arts,music,videos …

  24. Lee

    OMG, the pics in here are sooooooo perfect!! I just love the way you put it together, great job!

  25. Peak Strategy

    Thanks for the tips regarding blogging, it was very helpful.

  26. Ridhi

    Good Posting!

    Thanks.

    I especially like the Raccoon pictures :D

    I myself am more of a CopyLeft person but I think that’s mostly because of the nature of the work I do and am interested in.

    In any case, I think that your post will help a friend of mine a lot. I was researching this area on her behalf and we both owe you much gratitude so THANKS again.

  27. buy_vigrxplus

    The best information i have found exactly here. Keep going Thank you

  28. katreena

    good article. everyone wants to protect his creation and this post reveals that thing very nicely. i too very conscious about my personal stuff. you can read out copyright laws if you also want to protect your creation.

  29. doruman

    Thank you very much for your great work, here I found one of the most comprehensive explanation and details about a subject, do not speak about the importance of such so subject, copyright protection.

    “Lost Art of Blogging” - amazing title of your blog, sincere congratulations for all you’ve created here!

  30. Livia

    Thanks, it’s an interesting and informative post.

  31. sooran

    very good! tanks;
    very helped me !

  32. Jim

    great writeup…looking forward for more posts

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  34. Kevin

    I didn’t see it in the article, and I apologize if I miss it but another great tip is to tag your RSS feed. That’s what I do. That way if they are funneling your site through an RSS reader you ultimately get a backlink to your content, and honestly a free advertisement.

    That being said thanks for the list of services that can aid me in defending my own intellectual property.

  35. Isaac | GoBlogger

    Thanks for this info. Someone on blogspot plagiarized my content. I am working to solve it. I’ve reported it to Blogger.com, I hope they will ban the plagiarist soon.

  36. Piseth

    This is awesome, i’m gonna use it on my blog for copyright too as reading through your article.

  37. Robi Banerjee

    Thank you for this information. It was very helpful. I can sleep in a more peaceful place now.

  38. Intellectual Property Patents

    yes I agree we should be very careful about protecting our blog. Sometimes content on blogs is pretty valuable and one should copyright it!

  39. mido

    thank you bro very nice post

  40. Sean

    Just a correction in the link for Creative commons. Its .org and not .com

  41. ashley@decorologyblog

    Thanks so much for this! I just found my blog name and posts have been copied so I’ve just started your recommended plan of action.

  42. climpico

    “All of the articles listed are extremely well written, as well as fun and I’m pretty sure […”
    You can read more?

  43. Blog Counter

    Great tips.I have read many blogs but first time i read such important information.Thanks for sharing.

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  45. medyum

    Yes, I agree with this. A lot of my competitors stolen my content before it was crawled by Google. The most times they were crawled first, so Google thought always I was the one with duplicat content, sometimes it is so annoying me.

  46. Mary Jane Black

    Great site!

    I love the racoons! lol

    Mary

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  48. IToons

    Nice article, learn a lot. thanks….

  49. Uma

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  22. 22 5 Tips how to deal with copyright while blogging | Internet And Design

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