Content Theft: My First Time Experience

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This week there was 2 post from my blog which was repeated on another blog. I can say that it was not word for word but the idea and concept was literally the same. All the blogger did was re worded and switched around some sentences to make it seem as if it was his own content. I was a little annoyed because all my postings are base on my experiences from what I did or what I didn’t do. This specific blogger actually took the content and simply added his own touch to the subject.

It seemed the blogger just read my post – after grasping the idea added his own form of touch to it keeping some of the content from my blog. The funny part is this specific blogger did not change anything – he simply just copied, paste, and post. With him doing that he copied all my external links and blog affiliate system links. This caused a trackback to my blog and I usually visit these blogs that link back to my post, I am just curious as to what they may have to say.

Upon visiting this specific blog I started reading his posts – I was surprise, angered, and disappointed. Surprise because I would not have think that this would have happened to me. I do not think I have yet mastered the skills of copywriting, I just flow when I write and think.

When I found the same similarities and ideas implemented on 2 post – I decided to read up on copyrighting issues other bloggers may have experience in the past. After reading a couple post I decided to take actions into my own hands.

What I did to handle this issue:

  1. Contacted the author – to my surprise he did not have a contact form or any means of contacting the author. This by the way is a poor way of communicating to the public and your readers.
  2. Check who owns the domain. I use WhoIs.net – I wrote down the host and this persons location
  3. I went to the host, and they had a whois search section as well. So I decided to use it and to my surprise it provided me with an email address of the owner! I wrote this down.
  4. I then created a ticket with my ticket system notifying the blogger on this issue.
  5. I then created a personal email on this issue as well

I simply told the blogger that the concepts of the 2 posts were of my own content and ideas. I politely asked for a simple link back to the proper sources he used. I even put a time limit on the response; I told the blogger this request and/or response would need to be arrange within 48 hours, if not I would take more action to against his blog. Luckily I received a response the next day and I checked up on the links, they were adjusted as I have asked.

But why would bloggers do this? There are tons of free content on the internet that you can easily use. Private Label Right articles, article directory, get freelancers, etc. To me this specific blogger was new and needed content but that does not mean to TAKE full content and call it your own.

In the beginning when I started blogging – I just started writing, using PLRs for assistance and quoting other authors from other popular blogs. I did not TAKE I quoted authors.

In any case this experience has gotten me to think -“if someone was willing to take my own content now, what about the future?” I decided to do research on WordPress copyright plugins and what other famous authors are doing as well.

Lorelle on WordPress has a great post about what to do when someone steals your content, it is a great in depth article. Here is a small snippet from her post:

Once you find your content has been stolen, you need to track down the source of the theft. The source of the theft is who stole it in the first place. If one person steals some of your writing, someone else may either steal it from them, or link to it as if it was the source. With links and copies of the stolen material spread around, it can be confusing to find out where the source of the initial theft was, as well as tracking down all the links to that source.

Jon from Smart Wealthy Rich had this same issue happen to him as well:

It s*cks big time when it happens, but it’s something all of us will have to deal with at some point. Remember to always be polite and spell check before sending those e-mails. And keep a record of everything.

After reading some great post or articles I decided to see what I can do on my end to prevent this from happening again. I recently installed CopyFeed, a wordpress plugin. What this does is it protects your RSS feeds from being used commercially instead of personally.

Since I recently started to offer full feeds to my RSS readers, I thought to myself it would be a great idea to implement some copyright tactics to my RSS.

With CopyFeed, it allowed me to insert a copyright message at the bottom of the feed with a digital fingerprint. The unique thing I like about the digital finger print is it can be search able. With that said I use Google Alerts to search the web for that specific digital finger print, once found I am notified.

The Plugin adds content to a feed. It is possible to configure the copyright message. You can use html. You can add the IP of a feed reader and digital fingerprint for an explicit key. There can also be a domain name for a whitelist and this domains became not the message. The plugin search for this key at content theft. It is furthermore possible to add comments and related posts to the feed. For the related post feature it uses a database-search for the content. You can use the plugin “Simple Tagging” for related posts in a feed. The copyright notice can be added even when using entry excerpts.

Since this will be my first time using Google Alerts I want to see how it works with this digital finger print. I will also be writing a disclaimer on my blog as well. Since CopyFeed is strictly for RSS only – I want to create a small straight to the point Disclaimer outlining several aspects of this blog.

But in any case if you experience a author blogger taking your content, here are some simple steps that I took, recap of what I stated above.

  • Politely contact the blogger: provide information such as the URLs relating to your own
  • Provide a time limit for correction: ask for a link back or ask for the removal. If it is word for word, I would suggest a full removal or adding a footer “about the author section” on the post.
  • Once corrected thank the blogger and explain to him copying other authors work is illegal and can kill credibility.
  • If no response or no action has been done after your propose time – contact the host: use tools such as whois.net to find out who the owner is the location and the host of the website.

Since the blogger has taken upon my request and apologized, I did not have to take any further action. In the future I hope I do not have to as well.

  • Good on you for handling this properly, and for helping teach others how to respond calmly. APPLAUSE!

    As for the CopyFeed WordPress Plugin and similar Plugins, they don’t “stop” content theft. They merely provide a warning to those who steal. The problem with some content thieves, like scrapers, is that they grab hundreds or thousands of posts from many blogs. They don’t bother reading any of the posts. They may publish 50-2000 a day. Who has time to go through that much content looking for copyright notices, warnings, or abusive threats against them?

    Direct contact is the only way to bring the copyright violation to their attention. You did great! Thanks for being one of the brave ones to talk and teach about this subject!

  • First off, I’m very sorry to hear that you had this experience. However, I can definitely say you’re not alone.

    I think the use of Copyfeed is a good idea, but, in the future, when someone steals your content you might want to look into using the DMCA and resolving these matters at the host level. You’ll generally find that things get handled more quickly and more reliably.

    Though honest mistakes do happen, they seem to be getting increasingly rare. If you need any help with that, feel free to drop me a line. I have some stock letters on my site if you need those.

    Take care and good luck with the fight!

  • Ian

    > Lorelle
    I thought of just going and blantering to the blogger, but I thought my request might not get done. So its key to act professional at times.

    > Jonathan
    thanks – I will make sure to keep in contact with you just in case this happens again. I will have to look into DMCA as well

    > Both
    I will definitely have both of you as contacts if it happens again! Thanks again for the tips

  • JP

    Had this happen to me but let it slide as I didn’t figure there was much I could do. I might try a couple of the things you did as I’d be happy with just a little acknowledgement of where the material came from also.