The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a U.S. copyright law that extends to the Internet and provides digital rights to online users. When you publish a blog post, that post is your copyrighted work, unless you’ve signed a contract stating otherwise. It is an unfortunate common practice for scraper sites to steal blog posts and republish them, at times creating a situation in which your stolen work ranks higher on Google than your original post.
This week on Maine on the Blogs we are going to walk you through how to identify if your work has been stolen and some steps you can take to protect your blog from scraper sites.
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How to tell if your blog post has been scraped
If your blog post is republished anywhere on the Internet — with or without your permission — your WordPress account will generate an automatic pingback, which is a system of creating linkbacks that allow an author to track and monitor where his or her work is being linked to and where traffic is being referred from.
If you get a pingback in your comments section in the dashboard, look closely at it to see if you recognize the external site that is referring to your post. If you did a guest post on another blog then that blog’s URL should appear. If you did not permit your work to be republished anywhere then it is likely that the site listed in the pingback is a scraper site and has stolen your post.
What should I do if my post gets scraped?
If your post get scraped then there are two things you can do; choose to respond or choose to do nothing. In most cases, scraper sites are fly-by-night and not worth tracking down with a cease and deist letter. To help decide if you should respond or not you can ask yourself the follow questions:
- Is the stolen post ranking higher in Google than my original post?
- Am I seeing a dip in pageviews?
- Is the scraper site saying malicious things about me or my blog?
- Am I getting traffic to my blog because of the scraper site?
If you choose to respond then you can fill out the Copyright Removal form on Google. This form is for bloggers to report alleged copyright infringement. If Google believes that your work has been stolen, surpassing the definition of fair use, then it will act accordingly by removing either the scraped site or the scraped work.
How to spot a scraper site
- No about page, email address, domain owner, or contact information available
- No RSS feed or ads shown
- No associated subscriber list, social media links, or comments
- Broken or missing links and few hyperlinks within text
- No pop-ups requesting you to subscribe to the site
How to protect your blog in the future
The absolute best way to protect your blog is to make sure you understand how your dashboard stats work so that you can see where your pingbacks and referrers are coming from. Here are few other things that you can do:
- Try the Plagiarism Checker from Grammarly
- Check your dashboard on a regular basis
- Post a clear copyright — here is a great tutorial from WordPress
- Set up a Google alert for your blog
References to bookmark
- Sample of a DMCA Take Down Notice
- The DMCA summary by the U.S. Copyright Office
- Directory to find domain owners when none are listed
- Digital Media Law Project: Fair Use Rules
- Google’s copyright removal form
- Plagiarism Checker by Grammarly
- Copyright notice tutorial from WordPress
Don’t let a scraper site ruin your day. Make sure that you take reasonable steps to protect your blog and that you understand the signs for when a scraper site steals your content. You can handle a situation like this swiftly and effectively when you are empowered with the right information y
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