Sunday, August 31, 2008

Content Stealers - What do you do?

Recently, some great bloggers notified me that a site was stealing my content. When I went to investigate, the site was down, so I thought the problem was gone. However, this afternoon I checked again and the site is up and running again and at least half a dozen of my recipes are on there--photo, text, the whole thing. The site is called easyfastfood dot com and I'm sure they're stealing content from other bloggers as well.

At the bottom of these pages with my entire blog post, there is a link that goes back to my blog and a link to my feed. Does this count as "attribution?" Although I certainly didn't give them permission to reprint my photo and writing, I do have a Creative Commons License that allows users to share the work if it is attributed back to me. But the way the whole post is essentially on another site with a little link at the bottom just doesn't feel right to me. Is this content stealer or does it still fall under the realm of what the CC license allows? I don't see any ads on the content stealer site so it's not a commercial site, yet...

There is also something that says "This is part of a auto search RSS feed, visit the source (feedburner page for my blog) for more great recipes. Is this preying on the fact that I have full feeds? Could I avoid this by changing my feeds to a short summary only?

When I looked for a way to contact whoever is in charge of the site, I can't seem to find any contact information. What's the best way to deal with a situation like this? I'm so confused. :(

Also as a side note, to make the situation even worse, when I thanked the bloggers to who alerted me to this problem on my blog, an anonymous person leaves a comment saying "someone wanted to steal your content? =/"
Am I taking it the wrong way because it sure pissed me off.

This Post was written by Amy from Nook & Pantry

(I hope this only posts once, having some blogger issues right now)


Luke said...

They are stealing my content too. I sent who I think is their ISP, an email at

Hopefully this will do something.

Kitt said...

I had a problem with some Blogger sites stealing my content. I filed a complaint with Blogger, which removed the offending posts (but didn't shut down the sites). I also switched to a short feed for a while (thanks to a tip from Kalyn), which meant they couldn't automatically steal a whole post.

That seemed to do the trick. After a while I switched back to full feed and haven't seen any more scrapes.

If you sign up for a Google alert for your blog name/URL, you can see when your blog is referenced on other sites, including scrapers (if they link back to you).

Good luck!

Dershana said...

I perfectly empathize with you. Plagiarism definitely leaves a very foul taste in the mouth. I'm tired dealing with this not on my blog (hopefully) but on a community I run on a social networking site.

SaltShaker said...

It's a tough call Amy. The CC copyright notice you chose for your blog is a simple non-commercial attribution one - it allows for someone to "copy, distribute or transmit" the work conditional on providing a "link to the original web page" which you state the person did provide. While it's unfortunate that someone doesn't have enough imagination to write their own blog and is simply aggregating other feeds, that's a reality of blogging - and your particular copyright notice allows for them to do exactly what they did.

A while back, someone posted a thread about a plug-in that attaches a copyright notice to the bottom of the RSS feed - it's not visible on your own blog, but when someone uses the feed, it suddenly appears at the bottom of your post. I found it to be a great deterrent - the people who had been just wholesale copying my blog stopped doing so within a few days. It's called Feed Copyrighter and is available on the Taragana blog website - works like a charm!

Kalyn said...

Several people contacted me yesterday about this site which had me listed as a contributor and was stealing content from a number of people.

Of course, I wasn't a contributor and they removed my name after I left a strongly-worded comment.

I advised several people I heard from to leave a comment saying something like this: "You are reproducing content from my blog and copying it here. I have not given permission for my blog material to be used on this site, and if it is not removed within 12 hours, I will not hesitate to file a DMCA complaint with your web host and with Google for illegal use of my material. If you don't want to have your site reported to Google for copyright violation, please remove all my material immediately and do not use any material from my blog in the future."

Apparently they removed the content when people left those comments, although it's definitely a short-term fix.

I would definitely advise switching to short feed. My issues with scrapers have been reduced by at least 90% since I did that. (And yes, I know people hate short feed, but my feed subscribers and e-mail subscribers have both gone up since I switched.)

I would also recommend adding a feed item that adds a permalink to each feed item. You can do this through feedburner, which I wrote about here:

I'm sure there are also other ways to do it, such as the one Saltshaker mentions. One benefit of this is that it clearly identifies you as the original publisher for Google, since the original permalink shows up everywhere your feed gets republished.

Pete said...

Thks for the informative post. I better beware of these copy cats too!

Amy said...

Thanks for the help everyone.

Kitt - thanks for the tip about the google alerts, I haven't signed up for those yet but I'll be sure to do it now.

Saltshaker - That's what I was afraid of. But on second glance, the recipe did not have a link back to my blog but rather a link to another recipe on my blog that I myself put in the post. So I guess there is no attribution. But if they had attributed to me, then it would definitely be a sticky situation.

Kalyn - I'll be sure to get on their case and leave them that comment asap. Thanks! Also I'll be sure to put that copyright notice on my feed and maybe change it to a summary feed.

I guess overall I'm still confused. If they did include a link back to the post, would it still count as content stealing? Is there a more appropriate CC license to use in cases like these or would I have to use an all rights reserved license?

Owen said...

This is one of the areas where internet content is very murky and conflicting with non-internet practice.

In the non-internet world it is very clear - copying someone else's work in entirety without permission is stealing.

On the internet however, it is generally accepted practice (WHETHER OR NOT IT IS RIGHT) that copying is ok if a full linkback is included. Let me be clear - I do NOT like this practice. But Google is now smart enough to figure out the original poster and they get search engine credit and the copying site does not (may even get demerits). So int he long run it doesn't hurt from that perspective and the inboud link instead gets YOU credit.

My company has an official policy that all such links are good and if asked we always give permission (mind you many do not bother to ask).

Having said all that I still think it is wrong

Ramona-The Houndstooth Gourmet said...

I just did a post on a cupcake shop that just opened. One blogger contacted me to use a photo, and I gave permission. She used my photo and some of my writing with full credit. That is, she did not try to pass off my words as her own.
Another blogger used much of my written content for the "facts' in her post (about the same shop) and used every single one of my photos. She wrote that the photos were from my blog-but she had no permission to use them. The content which she clearly lifted from my post was also not credited.

My question is....what should/can i do since I do not have a CC license (nor do I want one) or a copyright for my blog.

Is the fact that it is my original work and photos enought to call it mine and protect it?
Thanks all!
post in question:

cybele said...

Ramona - there are a lot of posts here on copyright issues but the basic gist of it is this:

- send a note to the offender and ask them to remove the content

- if they don't then you are faced with invoking the Digital Milenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which can be filed with their web host (use to find it) or any advertising program they're with.

The big thing to note is that EVERYTHING is copyrighted at the moment of creation. Creative Commons is a way of licensing your content, basically giving permission ahead of time for certain uses. But it's a huge mistake for anyone to think that simply because something is on the internet that it's free to use.

It is wise though to put a copyright notice on your blog that says that the content (including photos) was created by you, just so people know that there is a person behind there who knows their rights (or will soon with a little reading!).

Lars said...

As a followup to this, if someone is hotlinking your pictures, there are ways to stop them from stealing your bandwidth.

If you run your own server (or has access to it), sometime check the referrers for your pictures, and any downloads with not you (or google) as referrer will have been displayed on some others site. Actually stealing both your content, and youre so kind to provide the hosting and bandwidth for it also.

Ways to get rid of it could be with apaches mod_rewrite plugin, that can check the referrer before it serves the picture to the client. IF the referrer is not your page, you could either serve a "do not steal" picture, or more fun, randomly show hardcore donkey gymnastics.. you get the picture.

When this has been implemented, remember to check if the offending sites has removed your pictures, or if they just copyed the pictures to their own host, which ofcause leads to the same as always.. angry mails, DMCA, threats etc.

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