What do you do if original content from your website or blog is stolen and republished in full on another site? You fight back!
A splog or “spam blog” is a blog that steals content from other web sites, then aggregates and republishes the content on its own blog. Splogs are created primarily to make money from ads shown on the splog and/or promote affiliated web sites. Splog owners are too dishonest, lazy or stupid to create their own original content and instead thieve yours.
Splogs are harmful because they effectively steal a portion of your blog’s search engine ranking, traffic and ad revenue.
Fight the Good Fight
Recently a popular article on DevTopics was stolen and republished by at least three splogs. By following the steps below, fortunately I was able to convince all three splogs to remove my copyrighted article, and one site has since gone offline. If you are interested to see what a splog looks like, the two remaining splogs are: googit.blogspot.com -and- 2daytrends.blogspot.com. At least Googit includes a link back to the original article, whereas 2DayTrends typically removes all author and source information. Lame!
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet. When someone steals your original content, the best recourse is to file a DMCA complaint.
Cease & Desist Message
If you discover a website has republished your original content without permission, the first step is to ask the splog to remove your content from its site. The best way to do this is to post a comment under your article on the splog for all its readers to see. You can use the following text as a guide:
This is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
This article is an unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted material originally found at:
Please remove this article immediately or we will file an official complaint with the U.S. Copyright Office, FeedBurner and Google, Inc. Google’s response may include removing or disabling access to material claimed to be the subject of infringing activity and/or terminating subscribers.
If a splogger refuses to remove your copyrighted content, the next step is to file official DMCA complaints. The most effective attack is to hit the splog where it hurts: in the pocketbook. If you can alert the splog’s advertisers, typically they will suspend the splog’s account and cut off its revenue stream.
Ideally you should file a DMCA complaint with each of the splog’s advertisers, its web host, feed service, the U.S. Copyright office, and of course the splog itself, if you are lucky enough to find contact information. Lorelle has an excellent article that describes this process in detail.
The letter below serves as a template for your DMCA complaint. Note that you must include at least the information listed below, with numbered paragraphs, and items #4 and 5 MUST be included exactly as written. Usually you have to send these complaints via regular mail or fax, not by email.
Date: [January 28, 2008]
Attn: AdSense Support, DMCA complaints
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View CA 94043]
To Whom It May Concern,
This letter is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). I wish to report an instance of Copyright Infringement. The infringing material appears on the Service for which you are the designated agent.
1. The copyrighted material, which I contend belongs to me and appears illegally on the Service, is the following:
Blog article titled “[My Original Article]” written by [My Name], posted on [January 11, 2008] at [http://www.devtopics.com/…]
2. The unauthorized material appears at the website address:
This site appears in Google search results for “[Search Terms]” as well as other search terms.
3. My contact information is as follows:
4. I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials as described above is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
5. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
[Your Name Printed]
There are a few things you can do to help protect your blog from content theft:
- Post copyright notices prominently on your Web site. Consider adding a copyright notice to each blog post and RSS feed as well.
- In your blog posts, include plenty of links to related articles elsewhere in your blog. However, some new splog software will automatically strip links.
- Do not include entire articles in RSS feeds. Instead, use the “More” tag.
- Use an automated tool such as Copyscape to search for sites stealing your content.
- Insert a “watermark” code or series of keywords into your blog posts, then use a service like Google Alerts to notify you when those keywords appear elsewhere on the Web.
- Splogs: Spam Blogs and Stolen Content
- Splog Spot: Submit a Splog
- What to Do When Someone Steals Your Content
- How to Send DMCA Complaints to Search Engines
- Google DMCA Page
- Yahoo Copyright Page
- Microsoft Copyright Page
- U.S. Copyright Office
Article published on January 28, 2008
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