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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. 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.

  2. Rizzo Tees says:

    OMG did people really say all of those to you?

  3. 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 ;)

  4. 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

  5. Philip Nowak says:

    Darren,

    I enjoyed your post. I’ve always said that it is important to have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. Not only does it reduce your own stress level, but people are drawn to others when they show an ability to make a serious topic more lighthearted. Ultimately, your levelheadedness benefits your popularity tremendously.

    -Philip Nowak

  6. Philip Nowak says:

    Amit Savyon,

    Excellent feedback. Some of your points are very clever and I have not heard before. I am sure that all of us can employ the use of many of your suggestions to protect our content.

    Interestingly enough, Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits, went the completely opposite direction and chose to “Uncopyright” as he calls it. He has an entire page, “Open Source Blogging: Feel Free to Steal My Content”, that explains the reasons why he has decided to go this route.

    -Philip Nowak

  7. Amit Savyon says:

    Leo’s approach is very interesting, and, on a similar topic, I’m currently reading Lawrence Lessig’s “Free Culture”, great stuff. Recommend reading it here: http://www.free-culture.cc/freecontent/

  8. read this post when you did it, and laughed – just dropping a note to say i’ve just linked here, and thanks for posting the link to the Google copyright theft form – my blog was plagiarised on the second day i wrote in it by someone on Blogspot, and i was so annoyed that Google weren’t doing anything – at least now there’s a chance they’ll take down the stolen content – which in this case is the entire blog.

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