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Top 8 Excuses for Stealing Other People’s Content

I regularly find other people republishing my content without permission (and usually without acknowledgment of the source).

Here’s some of the real excuses I’ve had recently when I’ve confronted bloggers who do it:

  1. “I was just testing a new template with your posts.” (all 100 of them)
  2. “I just couldn’t resist – it was too tempting.”
  3. “We just installed a new plugin that promised to give us new content without lifting a finger, I didn’t realize it was using other people’s content.”
  4. “Sorry, my Son was playing with my blog and did it without me knowing.”
  5. “Oh, I didn’t see any Copyright notices.” (he was republishing my RSS feed and in doing so was republishing my copyright notice on every post too).
  6. “I was just doing it to see how long it would take you to realize I was doing it.”
  7. “Sorry, but can you tell me whose site YOU’RE scraping YOUR content off? It’s really good!”
  8. “But I just don’t have enough time to write my own content for all 279 blogs that I run!”

Update: here’s a new one I had today – ‘I wasn’t fully aware we were doing that.’ Hmmm – how can you not be ‘fully aware’? In my books you’re either aware or you’re not!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Yes, Darren. That sucks. I’ve been clicking on links of websites that “have a link to me” just to find cloned copies of your website. Awful.

    If I had the chance, I’d slap the hell out of these ingrates.

  2. Mr SEO says:

    You think that is bad? I have people steal whole articles from me, all 600 words and slap their name on it. Even after my article has already been on 300 websites. Then they even have the balls to say they wrote it after I confront them.

  3. George says:

    Number 8 is a pretty funny response.

    I have found copies of my sites on Chinese hosted domains. Not sure how you handle that, since they don’t exactly have the same copyright laws…

  4. Thomas says:

    #3 is awesome!

  5. Nick says:

    “Sorry, but can you tell me whose site you’re scraping your content off?”

    That’s definitely my favorite. Don’t people realize that they need to produce sound unique content. It’s like rule #1 of the web. I just don’t understand.

    -Nick

  6. Razib Ahmed says:

    Until now, it has happened to me for a few times but they were kind enough to link my blog and acknowledge that I was the writer. Anyway, this is a very bad feeling. I have my full support for you. I feel sad for you Darren. You are so busy and then you have to take care of this kind of people.

  7. I’ve never heard the “My son was playing with my blog” excuse. :p That’s classic.

  8. kca says:

    Anyway, i prefer my template, with my post and my rss!
    m(-_-)m

  9. Teresa says:

    Oh my…I just started my own blog. This is one of my biggest worries. I actually talked to my husband about this the other day and asked what I could do to prevent it…he just laughed.

  10. Anon Dec says:

    I’ve given up on reading lame excuses now. I just send an invoice and enforce it through the courts. As my site’s copyright notice makes clear, the fee charged to people taking content without permission can be as high as the full lifetime value of that content.

  11. Gleb Reys says:

    An absolute classic, all ten of them! With great visibility comes the great danger of someone reposting your whole RSS :)

    I especially hate people who not only steal your full-text articles, but also change the post title and never point back to my blog.

    I liked #7 from the list.

  12. vivek says:

    10 out of 9 people gave me following excuses:

    1) This article was submitted by someone…
    2) But you publish full feed so I assumed that it is safe to reprint your content

    And 3-4 guys said:
    I am too *rued* for asking them to remove content. Now I am rude person gr8

    I get over 2 millions hits (not page views) only one or two people submit article to my site and these all guys getting all my article submitted by other people. Wow! that is too much man…

    Now I put something like this for every post (but I don’t think so it is helping much):

    © 2004-2006 myname. All rights reserved. You may not copy, borrow, or steal the content without permission from myname.

    I do not wanna remove full feed as I have some loyal readers.

  13. Frank says:

    I have no affiliation with these guys at all but this is a useful tool that I posted about. By entering your post url at Copyscape.com, it will search the web for matching content to see if someone is ripping you off. It’s free and works pretty fast.

    Using it I found a guy 2 weeks ago that did a total cut and paste of an entire post. I asked him to redo it as an excerpt and link which he did.

    I don’t think it’s the best thing since sliced bread but it will save you from visiting every inbound link.

    Frank

  14. John says:

    Darren, how would you feel if an aggregator blog simply copied and pasted chunks of all of your problogger articles, with nothing more than “Darren at problogger writes…”, all while slapping on some adsense and chitika ads? Is that not stealing other people’s content?

  15. Mike says:

    Sorry, but I couldn’t help laughing at some of these “excuses”. It must be very time consuming checking this all of the time. It is not a problem I think I would have with my blog, but it often happens with my travel website.

    Are there any automatic notification scripts that you use? If there aren’t any it could make a nice product/service.

  16. mark says:

    well it depends, what is classed as stolen content, if its original work.. every word is yours and cant be found anywhere else… i can understand but if your posts on your blogs is just a snippet of text from another website where you are saying

    this site said this.. link here ” quote here”

    which you have on many of your blogs are you not stealing their content even though your referencing it?

  17. Leon says:

    It is quite tempting to steal your content Darren. It’s good info, plus everyone loves a good tip. How do you find them, because I want to know if the same thing is happening to my content.

  18. Damien says:

    A simple Google search or a plug into CopyScape will find any blatent impersonators.

    And this sort of situation is always discusting. I’m all for freedom of information, but give credit where it’s due, and don’t be a leech..

  19. brem says:

    I never steal. I borrow. ;) hehe

  20. Eitan says:

    Igor Stravinski said, “Good composers borrow, great composers steal.”

    I guess if I was a great blogger I would have pretended I wrote that quote.

  21. Paul says:

    The one I’ve heard a couple of times that hasn’t appeared on your list is “I thought it was okay to copy your article if I left your name at the top of it”. Obviously someone there getting moral rights confused with copyright.

  22. Tom says:

    John has a good point,

    This is what the internet is about though, content seems to get thrown here, copied there mashed up and eventually ends up on wikipedia for a student to put in their essay due in tomorrow ;-)

  23. bernard says:

    you may add two more:
    - “on the net everuthing is for free man”
    - “in russia we do not have to take care of this”

    Two examples that happened to me recently…

  24. cardoso says:

    The last one is a classic. And they get angry, because, well, they really CAN´T create content, so it´s a god-given right to scrap OUR entries.

    I had to deal with a kid that not only stole my content, but hotlinked the pictures. After a lof of messages left unanswered in his comments (he later disabled the entire comment system) I had no choice, I changed the hotlinked pictures to the worst pictures I could find with Google Images adult filter set to off. YES, Goase.cx included.

    The kid later complained that his family visited his blog, and were exposed to all those hardcore brokeback mountain-style steamy action, and he had no time to create content, and the he WOULD remove my posts, and I only gave him a week-long warning….

    I would pay a thousand dollars to see the look on his mom´s face… after all, his kid was so smart, he even had a blog with lots of cool posts…

  25. Caryn says:

    That’s insane! How can they think any of this justifies them? And how can they believe that you would fall for it?

  26. Darren Rowse says:

    John – good question.

    I’ve outlined my views on this numerous times but let me try to summarise:

    1. I don’t have a problem with people quoting me if they use a paragraph or two and acknowledge the source.
    2. I don’t have a problem with people manually picking which of my articles to quote from
    3. I don’t even have a problem with people automatically aggregating my feed with a very short excerpt and the heading (although I personally think this is lazy if it’s posted to the main blog)
    4. I don’t mind people using parts of my content, especially if they do something useful with it (ie adding their own comments, or putting it with what other people are writing on the topic, or helping people to find my content in a helpful way)
    5. I don’t mind people asking me for permission to republish full posts (I don’t always give it but at times have)

    - What I do take issue with is people republishing my full posts
    - I have a problem with people who don’t acknowledge sources
    - I have a problem with people who put their own name on my content and pretend they wrote it
    - I have a problem with people publishing long posts every post I write

    What I’m referring to in this case is people doing one or more of these last things (something I find every day).

  27. John says:

    Thanks for your answer Darren. I have to wonder though, if all those camera reviewers and laptop reviewers feel the same as you do. But, to each his own.

  28. Darren Rowse says:

    I can’t speak for them all but looking at my inbox which is full of ‘just letting me know about my review – can you use it?” type emails I’d say they don’t mind.

    I’ve been blogging in a similar pattern for over 2 years and I’ve only been asked to remove content twice that I can remember. Once by a digital camera manufacturer because I had been sent photos of an unreleased cameraphone and once by a mainstream magazine who I’d quoted (who three months later emailed me to apologise and ask me to link to their posts again).

    I’m always open to hearing from any who don’t want me to link to them but from what I can tell most appreciate me highlighting their reviews, sending them traffic and giving them links to help them improve their SE positioning.

    Readers seem to like it to. Every day I have more of them sign up to get my newsletters and the amount of traffic the site pulls seems to indicate people find it useful.

    I understand where you’re coming from but as I’ve grappled with it over the last 2-3 years I’ve come to a rhythm on those blogs that I’m happy with and that I think those others concerned (other sites and readers) get something out of also.

  29. John says:

    That’s good to know, thanks Darren.

  30. Darren Rowse says:

    you’re welcome. Thanks for the interest.

  31. Damon says:

    I found one of the culprits by following a trackback link to their blog. They had copied 65 Distractions to Make Your Day More Interesting which includes a link to my list.

    Their post showed up in my comment section. So I followed it and discover a deleted post and an apology to Darren.

    Interesting.

    PS I hope I did the link right. I don’t want to embarrass myself on my first comment on your blog.

  32. Damon says:

    I changed their trackback (pingback, whatever) so it points back to Problogger.

  33. Blonde Jon says:

    I’m an original kind of guy. I think it’s degrading to yourself if you steal other people’s content for your own blog.

  34. chris says:

    Darren, you publish something that has rss on it and you do not like people using your feed? are you an idiot? show me the law that says if you have published something and have rss if you are reprinting this is stealing in some way? what if they are linking back to you? what if the title sends clicks to you? even if they do not show me law that says they are stealing? after all you are using rss witch lets people republish. either don’t use rss or shut your suck!

  35. chris says:

    ah yes I do like #15, you are making over $100,000 a year doing this except thing. You justify it by saying you are not taking all of the content. this is pulled from your camrea phone blog,
    GadgetNutz reviews the Motorola Q and writes, “Speaking of Media, the camera on the Q is top notch. This is a 1.3 mega pixel camera with six levels of zoom. Predictably, as the zoom increased, picture quality decreased. One nice feature is that this camera has a “burst” feature that allows for rappid picture taking so you capture that “perfect” shot. The Flash and White balance can be set to automatic or can be user adjusted. All in all, this was an excellent camera for a Phone.” Read more about the Motorola Q.
    See more from our Camera Phone Reviews category »

    were is the original content? all you contributed was the first 6 words and that added no value. HIPOCRIT (SP) you piss me off, how do you justify this? do you have a good answer? will you answer it? doubt it!

  36. chris says:

    your response in #29 is not an answer, there is either right or wrong, if it is good for you to do to others then it is good for others to do to you, it does not matter if nobody has complained to you or not. if you say it is wrong because you don’t want it but do it yourself then you are an idiot and justifiying this through some serious bs!

  37. Jon says:

    I’m pretty new to the blogging scene so this article kind of caught me off guard. I had no idea people could be so low. Well, then again, never mind!

    The way I see it is like this: what goes around comes around. The good guy will always win in the end somehow. The thief / smuck / ignorant I can not write so I’ll steal from other people people will pay their dues :)

    Happy Blogging!

  38. Why is it that every nuthead always tries to justify everything by talking about laws they don’t even have the brains to comprehend? It’s about ethics, knucklehead. If you’re so poor over in Eastern Europe that you’d stoop to breaking into other people’s houses to survive, which is practically what these thieves are doing when they swipe other people’s blog posts, I truely feel sorry for you. Go give your pee-sized brain a rest.

  39. Darren Rowse says:

    Ok Chris – lets calm down a little. If you want me to answer you then all I’d ask for is a little courtesy. No need to get into name calling here. I feel I’ve answered most of your comment already above to John – but a few further reflections:

    1. RSS – there is debate over this and as far as I can see I’m entitled to put a copyright notice on my feeds. I am the author of them, I spent many hours writing them – I can do what I like with them.

    I’m sure the argument over whether content can be used by others happens every time there is a new medium (books, newspapers, websites, CDs etc). In most cases that I can think of the author of content is protected.

    I use feeds so that people can read my content in a way that suits them via a news aggregator and not so they can randomly republish every word I write on their own sites. I don’t like them doing this for two reasons.

    Firstly it’s an issue of duplicate content. Google treats content appearing in multiple places in the exact same form badly. I don’t want to risk it. If I were to let everyone repost my content there would be many copies of every post I write around the web.

    Secondly when a publisher allows people to reprint their content they run the risk of that content being used in ways that they might not wish it to be used. I’ve seen my feeds stripped of acknowledgments to authorship, put into ebooks to be sold and twisted to be used to promote products that I’m dead against.

    Saying that just because I use a technology that allows people to republish and therefore it’s legal is a crazy argument. Virtually any way of presenting information can be republished but its not always legal to do so.

    2. there is a difference between what I do on my blogs and what I’m complaining about in this post.

    - On my blogs I manually search for content that is relevant to the topic I’m writing about (those I’m referring to above simply republish everything from a feed).
    - I use short quotes from sites that I find (others republish full feeds)
    - I always link back and acknowledge a source (many others don’t)
    - I have a working relationship with many of the sites that I use content from. They actively pitch their stories to me on a daily basis and ask me to quote them (others don’t seek permission and sheepishly make excuses when confronted)
    - Many of the sites I link to link back to my blogs and use quotes from what I write in a similar fashion when I write reviews
    - I’ve had interactions with people from mainstream search engines and have shown them my sites – they’ve not seen them as spammy sites. Many other scraper type blogs do get banned from search engines.
    - If you look deeper in my blogs you’ll find that we don’t just use the quotes once. Without giving all my competitors a complete outline of how I run my blogs I will say that I do add value to the quotes I use by collating them together in a way that my readers do find useful.
    - My sites are read by 30-40,000 people a day and have close to 20,000 email subscribers. Obviously someone’s finding them useful.
    - Most of the sites that I see republishing content do nothing of real use with that content. They randomly scrape everything a site writes – in fact many of the operations I’ve seen are scraping the feeds from hundreds of blogs at a time and are producing hundreds of thousands of useless content every year.

    I’m not sure what else I can say Chris.

    I’m a little confused though because the email address that you use is from a network of sites that seem to be doing almost an identical thing to what I am.

  40. hamish says:

    I think more action needs to be taken by search engines and feed aggregators.

    It’s not in a search engines interest to have to index the same material 40 times. I for one get frustrated when you can still find useful material on the 30th page of a google search, and everytime you click a result you get the same content. It used to be that any good results were on the first page, now its clone clone clone…

    And surely feed aggregators would have a better, more effective service should they cut the crap.

    How could this be done? I wouldn’t have a clue. Any private group that makes a list of “original content posters” and “cloners” would no doubt get it wrong sometimes, and like email servers, suddenly good clean servers get listed as spam relays and can’t send email to anyone using their safe list, and then have to prove they were innocent. Mabe blogging software makers? Maybe ISP’s (dreamhost.com are the only large ISP that I think would do something cool like boot users for copyblogging)? Maybe google?

    Until someone figures out a way, it seems that the besy thing to do is ignore it, as even shaming them publically sends them more traffic.

  41. Martin says:

    “Chris”, I’d urge you to take a chill pill or something, mate – you’re coming off as a raving mad, foaming at the mouth whack job. Discuss the issues with passion but do it with some class and respect at least.

  42. jay says:

    Darren,

    I can’t tell you how pissed I am. It just happened to me. First time. Probably not the last. Someone lifted my post completely. With no link back, no nothing. A post I submitted to you for your List Project. It was my “4 ways to more romance.” The guy changed it to “4 ways to more romance in my life.” Do you ever get use to it?

  43. Erin says:

    thanks for this. i actually just caught someone today who was posing as me, using ALL of my pictures on facebook, had the same first name, but different last name. Her main facebook picture was literally one of MY pictures that i had cropped and edited. I reported her to Facebook and they immediately deleted her. But, the thing is there’s no telling if she (or he) will create a new account. Since in order to add pictures you MUST download them from your computer…Therefore, this person has a LOAD of MY pics on their computer…..

  44. ernan says:

    i’m getting pissed off toowith those kind of people. you tried so hard to make a content. and out of nowhere someone will just copy it…

  45. mmorpg says:

    rofl, number 8 is so true…whenever I write an article I notice 23423 other spam sites scoop it up.

  46. Darren,
    You have every right to be upset about stolen content. The right of intellectual property are worth protecting.
    I also commend you for keeping a cool head, and redirecting the conversation after “chris” ranted. It is not easy to do that.
    Kevin

  47. PoLR says:

    I love number 6!

    You’ve got to give them credit for honesty in their replies if nothing else!

    I get it a lot with scraper sites but also have noticed one blog copying the format of several posts (headings, title etc but rewritten the actual paragraphs) – so close to our posts but un-provable. I keep being told to think of it as flattering but it isn’t, it’s downright theft (and uncreative to boot!) Pah.

  48. Rizzo Tees says:

    OMG did people really say all of those to you?

  49. Deanna says:

    That is awful and there is no excuse for that type of behavior! But, if it’s any consolation your content is SO good and that is why it is happening.

    I point other bloggers to check out your site all the time, but I do it with a link ;)

  50. Amit Savyon says:

    Darren et al: you’ve poignantly described the situation, but have misidentified the problem.

    You (and most other people in the comments) have focused on “people are taking your content” as the problem.

    But the real problem is that you’re not benefitting when these people take your content.

    If you think I just said something self-evident, then you missed my point.

    I’ll start with a premise: the internet is a success when information flows freely. And a failure when information flow is prevented.

    Let’s look back at Napster & RIAA in 1999. The music industry saw millions of people stealing their music, and therefore sent their lawyers after all of them.

    But if the RIAA had seen Napster as an opportunity, rather than a threat, had the RIAA put their faith in the free flow of information, rather than preventing that flow, I believe that the music industry today would NOT be in the shambles it’s in.

    To bring this back to successful bloggers like you, if you look at this whole situation from the perspective of “free flow of information is a good thing”, then you can realize that there’s a simple set of steps you can take to BENEFIT from the many, many people who will continue to take your content and publish it as their own.

    I will list a few steps here:

    1) Watermark Your Content:
    Embed links within your RSS feeds, pointing back to your site. And by “within” I mean in parentheses, in the middle of a paragraph

    Sure, some content scrapers will disable these links, but most of them will republish your content on their sites, linking back to you.

    This benefits you by Google seeing more backlinks to your site, and visitors to those sites clicking over to you.

    2) To catch the people who remove the links,insert text every so often in the content “brought to you by Darren Rowe”. Important that the text is separate from the link, because the people who automatically remove links will remove anchor text as well.

    3) Regarding your duplicate content fear, first Google’s algorithm knows who is the original writer and who is the scraper.

    A blog like yours, you’re usually indexed in Google with 5-10 minutes after posting.

    So any site that republishes your content will do so AFTER Google already knows about your new post.

    Additionally, Google looks at sites, not just content. From Google’s perspective, it’s easy to see that all the articles on your site are original, while all the articles on the other sites are scraped (because guess what? Those sites usually scrape from multiple sources at once).

    3a) But if you REALLY want to be “safe” on this point, set your RSS to wait to put new content in it until that new content has been indexed by Google. That way you can be absolutely sure that Google knew about you first.

    Ok there are more things that can be done to benefit from people reprinting your content, but I’ll leave it at that. I’m sure people will have a lot of “buts”, but it all comes down to one thing: information is flowing freely like a river. You can never stop a river. Better to use it, have it generate energy for you, use it for transport. Treat information flow like a river and you’ll benefit from all those people you previously thought were stealing from you

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This is in response to the idiotic reasons that people are giving for stealing other people’s content. [...]

  2. [...] Darren Rowse hat unter http://www.problogger.net die acht häufigsten Ausreden von Bloggern zusammengetragen, die seine Artikel ohne Erlaubnis (und in aller Regel ohne Quellenangabe) wiederveröffentlicht haben. Die folgenden drei haben mir besonders gut gefallen: [...]

  3. [...] And the reason I GOT the mean comment is even cooler – get this. Darren over at Problogger has people stealing his content all the time. And it was fascinating on my end when he posted a link to me to watch that link start appearing in other places – all over the internet. [...]

  4. [...] Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net has shed some light on the latest form of Internet piracy – blog piracy. He also gives some good tips to prevent (you know if you are doing it!) the temptation: I’m going to make this as clear as possible. [...]

  5. [...] Darren has another excuse to add to his list of horror here. [...]