You created a splendid blog, worked hard on it day and night, only to find one day that your content is being stolen and is used by sploggers. Content theft is emerging as a major problem among bloggers. It is just a matter of time, when your blog will fall victim of plagiarism. Dealing with sploggers is not easy, but it's not rocket science either. By taking some preventive measures you can detect content theft quite easily. Let us see how to detect, deal and take measures to stop content theft from our blog.
How to detect content theft?
There are many ways to detect content theft.
- Major Search Engines: The most common method is to take excerpts from your popular posts and Google them in double quotes.
- Copyscape is another excellent service through which you can find your content on other sites. On this site you can enter the URL for which you want to check content theft.
- Copyright Proof Plugin for Wordpress and Google Alert combination can make life easy in detecting content theft. The CP plugin allows you to embed an invisible fingerprint ( A unique phrase ), in every post, which can be tracked easily by setting alerts from Google. If any web page will come up with post containing that fingerprint, you will get the alert mail from Google.
- For images, use Google Image Search service to find any theft of your images.
How to deal with the culprit?
Once you have found the culprit, its time to take the action and get your content removed from the splog.
1) First of all, collect all the information related to the person who is stealing your content. You can get this information from his/her blog in the "About Me" and "Contact" sections. Alternatively you can get details about him by "whois" information related to his domain.
2) After gathering his contact information, you must contact him directly through mail asking him to remove your content. At first don't go in hard way, but don't be soft either. Take a balanced approach and notify him that his theft has been detected and he must remove the content immediately from his blog. In most cases, he will immediately remove the content. In case he refuses and remains defiant, it's time to take the next step.
3) Contact the hosting company of the culprit, and tell them about the copyright infringement.
4) At this stage, you must start collecting the evidence of your ownership of the copied content. Take the snapshots of indexed copies of your post in Google's search listing. If you have used some notes in preparing the post, take photocopies of that too.
5) Inform about it to Google and get his blog de-indexed from Google.
6) If he is using Adsense, follow the procedure mentioned in DMCA, Adsense, to complain about his content theft.
Preventive measures to stop content theft
Prevention is better than cure. An old saying, perfectly applies in this case too. There are several techniques and methods, which can help us in dealing with content theft effectively.
- Protecting RSS feed - The most common method to protect RSS feeds is to embed copyright statement at the end of every post. You can use FeedFlare Catalog to embed the Copyright statement in every post. There are many customized XML Copyright flares that can be found in this catalog, which you can easily customize and embed through your Feedburner account. If your content is copied with the help of automated feed readers, this method will ensure that your copyright statement is present in every post. It gives two way protection. First it acts as a deterrent and secondly detecting your copyrighted content will be easy. One more option is to publish partial feed, but it may backfire and your subscription count may get affected, because large number of subscribers prefer to read the full post via feed without going directly to blog.
- Licensing Content - Make sure you license your content to protect its illegal use. You can use a Creative Commons license to define a policy on how to use your content or who can use it. You can display your license at the end of every post as shown in the image below. It makes your readers aware that your content is licensed. It depends on you to formulate the appropriate licensing policy and to generate the right Creative Commons license that fits your need.
- Watermark Images - To protect your images, you must watermark them. There are many free watermarking software’s available, with variety of options and features. Watermarking discourage the use of image and acts as preventive measure. While watermarking the image, make sure you do not make the mark prominent enough that it may annoy the user.
- Declare Copyright Policy - Dedicate a single page of your blog, mentioning your copyright policy in detail. Do not forget to mention the consequences if it is violated. A classic example is a copyright policy page giving details of your blog's copyright policy.
Although stopping content theft completely is impossible, but we can take some measures to reduce the damage to minimum. All it needs is our awareness and vigil. It's time to build a strong community and network against plagiarism, which will help us to combat this problem effectively.
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