If you know me, you know I’m not big on sensational headlines.
Okay, just this once. Because this time, it feels right to me.
Did you ever do a Google search to see how your blog is doing in search engine land? And the seventh listing down on the first page turns out to be a knockoff of your blog?
There it was. One year of archived content in the sidebar, posts reproduced word-for-word and the big old name Cat’s Eye Writer in the header.
Oh. And a bunch of cute little flowers.
How could this have happened?
Turns out that when I moved my blog from Typepad to WordPress last November, someone snatched up my old domain. They kidnapped my entire blog and reproduced it as their content.
Okay. Now I was really angry.
This is the part where I start fuming
Content scraping, the taking of pieces of content from your site without permission is actually quite common. Blog hijacking, an effort to build an entire site with your content, including your blog’s name, is more rare. But it does happen regularly.
I thought it was a simple fix. I’ll just contact Typepad (SAY Media) and ask them to take it down, Right?
Due to the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the burden is on me to prove that the content is mine and that I did not “authorize its use.”
So I had been paying Typepad hosting fees every month for two years but I must prove that the blog is mine?
And get this. Typepad requests that complete URLs for each instance of copyright infringement be provided.
What you can do to make it harder for those scumbags to steal your content
I am working through this convoluted, 6-step process right now. In hopes that you never have to experience this, here is what I have learned about monitoring and prevention strategies.
1. Put a copyright mark on your blog’s home page.
This one I had already done. And I knew that, although my online work is automatically copyrighted the moment I produce it, the bots weren’t going to read (or be affected by) the copyright notice. But humans who were tempted to steal my stuff just might think twice before doing it.
2. Visit copyscape regularly.
Put in your blog’s URL and get a report of duplicated content, along with the percentage of content that is duplicated.
3. If your blog is WordPress, install the anti-feed scraper plugin.
This makes your posts somewhat harder to scrape by appending a little message to the end of all your posts (only in the RSS feeds). If thieves steal your content, they’ll steal it complete with links to your original content and you’ll be able to see it in your blog stats.
4. If you switch blogging platforms, hold onto your old domain.
With Typepad, I could have downgraded to a “free Typepad Micro blog,” allowing me to hold onto my domain and thus preventing anyone from grabbing it. I wish Typepad had told me this, but I guess they had no motivation to do so because I was leaving them for WordPress. Still…
5. Implement other content protection methods.
Visit this site to learn about more strategies like using an RSS signature and including a digital signature with your posts.
What about you?
Do you ever worry that someone might be using your stuff without your permission out there in the Wild West of the interwebs?
Have you taken any measures to prevent your blog’s kidnapping?
Also, if you live in the Puget Sound, WA area and would like to learn about smart strategies for earning money from your blog and helping your readers at the same time, get the details here. If it seems like a good fit, would love to see you there.