Thieves come in many forms and shapes and stealing intellectual property is one of the oldest forms. Widespread of internet self-publishing in form of websites and blogs brings this issue to a new level. Now thieves can earn money by stealing YOUR content! While I can understand that some might do it out of lack of knowledge – I don’t care!
Anyone stealing my content will be taken actions against! Information I write is designated for my blog visitors and for my RSS readers ONLY. I have never given permissions to anyone to take my RSS feed and post it on their blog. Yes, it is easy to do and I don’t care if I get a backlink or not – a link from a blog that has no original content has no value to me but even that is besides the point – my RSS Feed is clearly marked as copyrighted material and anyone stealing my posts will be taken action against! And In this post I want to share how you can do same – effectively!
I personally think that concept of RSS creates some confusion but make no mistake, on majority of blogs it is provided for readers convenience ONLY. Generally it means you can read my blog posts in RSS Reader and I welcome and encourage it but I don’t give anyone permissions to reprint it in any form or shape on their own blog. This is in direct violation of DMCA and dealt with as such. Since some of the biggest cash cows used by stealing scammers are Google and Yahoo – this makes job a lot simpler, although not completely painless.
Here are the steps you can take to protect your content and deal with the thief when need comes up. I have used exact same steps to remove those ads from last 3 thieving blogs and will continue to do so. It doesn’t prevent them to continue stealing it but it will remove couple of the main reasons for it and protect your content originality as well as avoiding possible duplicate content penalties….
- Protect your Feed with copyright notice. I use an excellent plugin Feed Footer to add copyright to every post in my RSS Feed along with other notes. It helps me to prove my claim when it comes to it later as well as prevent people who are taking my content due to lack of knowledge.
- Identify the theft is taking place. I use two methods for this one: FeedBurner “Uncommon Usage” stats and I also subscribe to Google Alerts. Anytime specific parameters used anywhere on web, such as specific words from my Feed – I get email from Google with notification. Setup is simple and can be used for a lot more then just tracking mentions of your blog 🙂
- Identify the thief. If someone takes my content and tries to monetize it even after seeing my copyright notice – he or she is a thief and needs to be dealt with. But first we will still give them a chance. Use Whois Source to get information about the blog owner along with hosting company contact information. Generally it will be listed or at the very least – you should get hosting company info.
- Make first contact. In my experience this doesn’t result in resolution of the issue but worth a try. Email domain owner with a note to remove your content and disable ANY means of further automated publishing of your content. As I have mentioned – this generally doesn’t produce any results but at least your consciousness will be clear. I generally give a 24 hour deadline and lack of response on their part leads to next step. While it is VERY rare, my last contact have shown that a person did it by mistake and actually thought he was helping me (my faith in humanity was partially restored) and giving that last chance to correct mistake goes a long way. Some people DO make honest mistake and making this contact helps not only you by saving you a lot of time but also gives you a chance to perhaps help that person avoid the mistake in the feature – not everyone is a crook!
- Contact Hosting provider. If hosting is private or in different country other than US – this might not be effective step but well worth a try. Advise them that your copyrighted material was stolen and provide exact links to all stolen content. This is where your copyright note comes in handy as proving your point becomes a lot simpler. But still make sure to provide links to original material as well. This might result in offending domain been shut down and all content removed – but it might not, as I have seen some hosts with NO contact information that they respond to.
- File DMCA complain with major advertisers used on offending site. What you will generally find is that these type of scam blogs are built for AdSense and might use some form of YPN advertising together with Google or by itself. Those 2 are responcible for majority of their income and hitting them where it hurts should be your next step. There are number of requirements when you file complain but since both AdSense and YPN DMCA filing rules very similar you can reuse the document created in process. You are required to fax the information. Here is link to AdSense DMCA and YPN DMCA. Simply follow the process they outline and see their ads eventually disappear for the blog that steal your content.
Steps above will not protect your content from being stolen but they will ensure that principal of Crime and Punishment followed and might bring you at least this form of satisfaction. While I was unable to verify if YPN terminates account of the offender – Google has this statement on the AdSense DMCA:
Many Google Services do not have account holders or subscribers. For Services that do, Google will, in appropriate circumstances, terminate repeat infringers. If you believe that an account holder or subscriber is a repeat infringer, please follow the instructions above to contact Google and provide information sufficient for us to verify that the account holder or subscriber is a repeat infringer.
Since it is one of the major revenues used by scammers – your actions serve not only to protect your own content but serve community as well. You will find that your stolen content generally is not alone and that thief uses multiple feeds from many blogs producing good and original content. Another important point to this exercise is that you make a claim on your content and should avoid penalties for duplicate content from 2 search engines responcible for majority of free traffic.
Good Hunting my friends!
Note: While pulling RSS Feed to publish on your blog is permitted by SOME Article Directories and even RARE blogs that includes FULL ARTICLE content – generally blogs don’t permit this form of RSS Feed usage. You are encouraged to use RSS Widgets that give a headline and short summary of the content but almost never FULL Content as it damages the source blog.
Please be sure to read guidelines of the blog or site and if none provided – try contacting the owner. After all – theft of intellectual property is no different than theft from your local store…