If you're a blogger, you may have heard of that despicable practice called blog scraping. It's when some lowly scum somewhere sets up a "blog" and then goes on to populate it with entire posts scraped or stolen from real blogs. It's like blog identity theft, and the idea is to steal traffic from the real blogs and gain advertising revenue. Not surprisingly, most scraper blogs are plastered with AdSense ads.
Although I've been blogging for years now and I've often enough encountered outright plagiarism (where people lift pictures, recipes or ideas) from my blog, I learned of blog scraping not so long ago when I happened to google up a recipe and ended on a scraper blog that had copied my entire post for vegan curd rice. Every word was exactly reproduced, as were the pictures, with the only difference being that the name of the poster had changed from my name to "TN.Bused". Worse, as I looked through this "blog," I found several other entire posts and pictures from my blog there, and posts that were no doubt lifted from other bloggers. As you can imagine, it made my blood boil.
Then last week two other bloggers sent me links they had discovered to two other scraper sites that had lifted multiple recipes from Holy Cow! and reproduced them exactly.
Scrapers are notoriously hard to track down because their "blogs" don't usually carry any contact information (why would they?). Also, if they happen to be hosted on Blogger, they usually have the "Report Abuse" button in the navigation bar turned off. Also, as vast as the web is, it can be hard to actually locate blogs that are scraping your content although you can get some help from services like Copyscape. I don't find their free service very useful because it never did show up any of the offending sites, but they do have paid services that might better help monitor the web universe for plagiarism and scrapers.
Over the past week, I've been exploring ways to deal with these content thieves because my blood's still boiling. I've been reading up a lot on blog scraping and what to do about it, and I thought some of the information I'd gathered might be useful to other bloggers seeking help for this dilemma.
1. Report the abuse to Google
Google has a copyright infringement form that lets you enter the urls of the offending sites, so long as those offending sites are located on the Blogger platform. I am not sure how quickly or well this works though, because one complaint I filed nearly a month ago has still not had any results and the offending site is very much online. I'll wait and see if this works out.
Update: Google just informed me today that they had taken down the posts from the blog I'd complained about- so it does work. Yay! I'm going to go ahead and file complaints against the new ones I've discovered.
2. Report the abuse to AdSense
Although the scrapers who've lifted my content do not appear to have any ads-- yet-- many scrapers will post AdSense ads because it's easy enough for anyone to do so. I found this blog post that has what appears to be some useful information on how to report AdSense abuse, but I can't really vouch for how well it works. The blogger also has some other good ideas on knocking out scrapers that could be worth a try.
3. Use FeedBurner FeedFlare to add a copyright notice to each post
Because scrapers usually lift your RSS feeds, this can be of some help. While it will not actually stop the scraper from lifting your content, it will at least (hopefully) show the reader that the content actually comes from another site. Also, as this Blogger Buster post points out, it will help your page rank higher in search results.
4. Add links to other posts on your blog within each post
This easy enough trick that I read about might be one of the simplest ways to ensure that scrapers who lift your posts do actually end up linking back to your site. As with the FeedFlare addition, it will not actually stop scrapers from lifting your content, but you might be able to ensure that readers who land on these thug sites will find their way back to your blog.
If you have been the victim of blog scraping and have experiences/ideas to share on how you dealt with it, I'd love to hear them.
Have a great day, all!