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The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijacking

Stealing content directly off your site or blog and posting it on another blog, or even in magazine, is the most common method of content theft. With the increase in technology, other methods of content theft are growing, and are, unfortunately, easy to do.

These include image theft, RSS/feed content theft and website hijacking.

Image Theft

An image is any graphic, photograph, cartoon, drawing, or artwork. By international copyright law, it belongs to the artist who created the artwork. Only they can give permission to reprint the work, and by law, it can only be used with permission.

Yet, many think that if it is on the web, it can be used, freely and whenever and wherever anyone wants. Not true.

There are many services which offer up your images for viewing, and potential (and assumed) use on the web. These include Google Images and flickr. Read the fine print. It clearly states that these images are not to be used without permission. With flickr, however, there is a loophole. You can use the image, with credit, as long as the link is to the image on flickr and not copied onto your site, and only with images that have such permissions. Confused? Me, too.

Editorial cartoons and photographs, especially nature images, are among the more popular images reposted across the web without permission. These can be hard to track down and prosecute, but it has been done.

If you choose to use an image on your website or blog, get permission. Look through their website or blog for their copyright policy and reprint permission policy. It is usually found on a specific copyright or policies page, or in the About or Contact Pages. A simple email or posting through a comment on their website or blog will usually get you a response fairly quickly. Many will say yes, many will say no, and some will ask for compensation. All will ask for a link back to their site or blog.

To find out if your images have been stolen and used without permission, search Google Images to see if your image is listed and who is linking to it. Also check your server report to find out if someone is hotlinking, linking to an image on your site using your bandwidth.

Respond to an image theft with the same method used for written content.

RSS or Feed Content Theft

There is a growing and real concern that site and blog feeds are being used to totally replace any original content. Some crafty website owners are using multiple feeds to pull information from other sites into their own, making it look like the site has an interesting and original collection of content, when it is actually stolen without permission from other sites.

In general, the rise in the use of feeds on websites and blogs seems to be permissible, if only headlines or excerpts are used and not the full post or article content. The issue of content theft arises when this is done without your knowledge or permission using the full content.

To prevent feed theft, many experts recommend setting your XML/feed files to allow only excerpts in your site’s feeds. Most fans of feeds are unhappy with excerpts and many bloggers are now offering full content in their feeds to meet the demand. If you choose to include the entire post in your feed, then make sure you include the copyright statement and your blog links in the feeds as evidence of the source of the content.

Here is more information about preventing and understanding feed content theft.

Website Hijacking

Website hijacking, or blog hijacking, is another way of stealing content. It is called hijacking because they might use a post or two, but often your entire blog is kidnapped and reproduced as “their content” on their site. This might even include your entire site content and design, layout, and graphics, as well as your copyright notices.

There are several ways this is done. One is to just steal the content and reproduce it on another website. The other is to steal your bandwidth by incorporating links to your content in their web pages. When a visitor visits the page, your content is loaded from your website or blog into the page. Your server bandwidth is used to create the page, not theirs. This is also a form of “hotlinking”.

To find content that has been hijacked or stolen, check out the article out on Finding Copyright Infringements.

To detect if your site is being hijacked directly from your site or blog, check your server logs. Under “Hosts” you should see a list of the top URLs visiting or using your site. Depending upon your site’s content, the number could be several megabytes, not hundreds of megabytes. Look for the highest “bandwidth” access numbers and check out those sites. They might be either abusing your bandwidth or stealing content by hijacking your website content. DNS Stuff has a wide range of resources for checking domain information, so if the IP address comes up with nothing, check there for more information.

Also look for any statistics (if you can) from your website logs on HTTP Status Codes Redirection or 302 (Moved temporarily (redirect)). If you cannot see the details of these 302 redirects, monitor the number and if you see a sudden rise, contact your web host server or ISP.

Use similar tactics to stop website hijacking as you do with content theft, but skip right to the big guns by contacting the sites host server or ISP, advertisers, and search engines for their cooperation in shutting down hijackers.

Note: Website hijacking also refers to the technique of buying up domain names immediately when they expire. If the original domain name owner wants to renew, having forgotten or missed the deadline, they now have to confront the new owner who proceeds to extort money from them to buy back the domain name. This is a different issue from content theft, but still nasty.

For more information on website hijacking, and how to prevent it, check out the following.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

14 Comments

  1. Posted May 25, 2006 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I learned about image theft the hard way. I had a sudden spike in bandwidth. I looked over the server logs and noticed that one image (http://www.lumpyscorner.com/Photos/Strawberries.jpg) was responsible for 6000K+ of bandwidth over less than 11 days. I dug a bit deeper and found that it was very high in the google image search. Turns out a number of MySpacers thought it would make for a good background. Just for laughs, I replaced the image for few days and the result was a nymber of sites looked like this (http://radiostatic.am/Photos/prank.html).

    Now, I simply have hotlink protection for all image files.

  2. Posted July 17, 2006 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Call to all Bloggers!

    A Blog which I have spent a substantial amount of time writing (http://www.voipwiki.com/blog/?p=16) was recently plagiarized by a Belgian Blogger Jan Geirnaert living in Malaysia. Then the guy started writing about conversations which we had which were “off the record”, then he incorrectly identified a Chinese company as the company which I had written about.

    You can read more about the entire fiasco here:

    blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/movabletype/blogger-plagiarism-and-sweet-revenge.asp

    I would greatly appreciate it if Bloggers out there can comment on what this guy has done. His original theft of my article was blatant and yet he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. Perhaps some comments, one way or the other, can help settle this unfortunate situation. Thanks.

  3. Posted July 17, 2006 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Links in the above were edited. As I’ve previously stated, revenge against plagiarism, especially public, is not appropriate first steps to take in response. I’m sorry for the actions against you, and I hope you take appropriate action. Such revenge may backfire.

  4. Posted August 27, 2006 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    an the matter of the alledged plagiarims by me. I am sorry to say so. I have put quotes on my blog. Charlie Paglee is just a bit overprotective I guess. Especially stating now : “Call to all Bloggers!” Well I find such reactions childish.

    Maybe one should focus on the reasons why this blog on hacking Skype was launched in the first place. Put that next to the fact that my quotes where initially not big enough for CP,well and it looks like the bank-robber saying to the person that parks wrongly on their get-away car spot to move along and find another spot… :)

    By the way. I corrected my “errors” immediately after Charlie thought that the quotes where not big enough. The quotes where there from the beginning, but he did not like the font. So basically we talked about it and wrapped it up. He agreed with the corrections and apologized for his exagerated reaction. But that was just a smoke-screen it seems… Afterwards he came back to his statement and needed to open the case, by starting a public jan-stole-my-content-wich-hunt on me. And then the call me a devious guy…

    I find these allegations an injust attack on my personal integrity and reputation. Actually I tried to ignore this whole story due to the minor importance but it seems to me that this is still going on. I hope it will stop.

  5. Posted November 18, 2007 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    Yes this is happening all the time turning the internet into a junk yard. Todays webmasters spend 50% of there time getting this removed. All it would take to stop it is meta tag copy rights to be used by the search engings ie: the content is taged with your name before publication but no most of the time search engines go by the title tag to see dup content

  6. jcorn
    Posted March 9, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much, appreciated!

  7. Cameron Webster
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    i’m well hacked off with these content scrappers, even if you do manage to get them removed they come striaght back with more sites and do it again.

  8. Posted April 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Just found you. My site was “scraped” in November and just discovered it by accident. He eliminated all my ads but the moron kept everything indicating that he was me. Even footers and the like. I have sent out the letters to the server and the reseller but nothing has happened yet.

    He appears to be in Amsterdam.

    Any thoughts would be welcome.

    Thanks,

    Jonathan

  9. College
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    Today my blog was hijacked by somebody. I am presenting my case here.. pls help me.

    My blog is on blogspot.com. last night I got a mail from the id ‘ananymous no-reply-blogger.com’ asking me to visit my blog, with the same name but with a hyphen in it.

    To my pain and grief, it has the same content and everything is as like my blog. How it is happened. Is My blog hacked by somebody? pls show me the way to get out of this pain.
    I request you please visit both blogs once and help me. please sir. I afraid all my efforts gone waste.

    If if I click on any link or post in this hijacked blog, then it is redirecting to my blog. all links are like that only.
    how to handle this hijacking. I am not much fluent with technology.
    pls help me..

    • Posted September 9, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Please contact your web host at Blogger.com (formerly blogspot) and ask them for help. Do not leave messages around on stranger’s blogs – get help from the web host directly.

  10. Posted January 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    How’s this for hijacking: I let a blog’s domain expire, someone buys it at auction, and then reproduces it with all my old posts! The only thing I found that was changed was the spelling of my last name in the About section. To any visitor, it looks like I’m still running the blog, but I’m not. Any advice for this particular situation would be much appreciated!

  11. Posted February 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Check out these guys http://www.scrapestopper.com They are able to stop any type of scrape attack I do not know how they do it but they stop all forms of scraping…They have a trial period Awesome and there system is so easy worth a look at..


39 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Interested in the dos and don’ts? hop on over to Lorelle VanFossen’s blog, she has been featuring some very well written articles on content theft. Reading her articles will force many of us to re-examine the content that we post and how we approach blogging in general. The articles are well written and provide solutions as well as options for combatting content theft, copyright infringements and site hijacking. Read More Tags [...]

  2. [...] [Source: The Growing Trends in Content Theft] [...]

  3. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft discusses the issues that developers and authors face when offering their creative content on the web. [...]

  4. [...] The problem with a lot of this information is the myriad ways feeds are used. They are used by people to quickly gather information and updates from their favorite websites and blogs. They are also used to display content, in various forms, on web pages, such as headlines (like the feeds shown in my sidebar using the new WordPress Widgets), excerpts, or even full content, sometimes instead of original content on a web page or blog. All we have are the statistics and feed services. Many of those feed services, such as NewsGator, allow users to showcase your blog on theirs. But how would you be able to track that information? That’s for another article. [...]

  5. [...] The Blogging Herald reports that content theft is on the rise via feeds and it is time to do something about it. How timely since I recently posted What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content and The Growing Trend in Content Theft, which includes feed thieves. [...]

  6. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft; [...]

  7. [...] As the number of websites and blogs grow, especially splogs, the demand for content puts more pressure on website administrators, who may resort to stealing content in order to fill space on their sites and attract traffic. Website hijacking, as such an example, is on the rise. This is the blatant use of part or all of your site’s content on another site without permission. This is also a copyright violation and needs to be dealt with accordingly. [...]

  8. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijacking [...]

  9. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft [...]

  10. [...] Blocking Your Readers With the advent of splogs, I’ve seen an increasing number of users who are actually blocking content from been served. A very common instance of late is blocking images when the referrer is not your website. This means you are blocking all kinds of Web-based RSS reader, including email-based RSS reading. I’ve heard a couple excuses for why people do this and I don’t buy any of them. The best excuse is that you don’t want another site hotlinking to your images. My response is to upload them to Flickr. But then you don’t control your images? Unless you are the next Picasso, I don’t think that should be a problem. [...]

  11. The sincerest form of flattery?

    Web site copy writing plagerism content theft

  12. [...] have seen a lot of content theft from Reality Me. Yes, I publish full RSS feeds because I like to read full RSS feeds and you get what you give. But [...]

  13. [...] did a quick search on how to combat RSS thieves, and eventually came across a plugin called sig2feed that lets you add a signature to your RSS feed [...]

  14. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijacking [...]

  15. [...] Some crafty website owners are using multiple feeds to pull information from other sites into their own, making it look like the site has an interesting and original collection of content, when it is actually stolen without permission from other sites.”//Lorelle/Wordpress [...]

  16. [...] for finding stolen content and copyright infringements. The last article in the series examines the growing trends in content theft such as image hotlinking, website hijacking, and abusive use of feeds to replace original content [...]

  17. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft [...]

  18. [...] Trackback to Lorelle [...]

  19. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijaking by Lorelle VanFossen [...]

  20. [...] One must aware that it may not be legal to post photos on a blog that one has downloaded from the Internet, even in a case the source is credited.  It is not only regarded with the proper acknowledgement, there is also a problem of copyright.  By copyright law, photo is a type of image that it belongs to the artist who created the artwork. Only they can give permission to reprint the work, and by law, it can only be used with permission.  The growing trends in content theft [...]

  21. [...] main problem of dealing with internet scrapers, copyright infringement and content theft is that search engines can index the scraped/stolen content before our own original content, [...]

  22. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft [...]

  23. [...] The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Find out about image theft, feed scraping, and website hijacking here. [...]

  24. [...] This website also shows you exactly how to find to find out if your content has been stolen, and what to look out for, something that hasn’t been explained to us in any technical way to us in CIT anyway. Also, [...]

  25. [...] to protect online copyright of content and images. For example, Shoeblog has had their content ‘Scraped’ from time to time (ie. stolen in breach of the copyright that exists at the moment of publication) [...]

  26. [...] spam and fighting back against those who use our sites for their advertising and SEO swill. Then scrapers and content thieves had their way with our content and we had to become copyright experts. Along the way, defamation and privacy violations have come [...]

  27. [...] This website also shows you exactly how to find to find out if your content has been stolen, and what to look out for, something that hasn’t been explained to us in any technical way to us in CIT anyway. Also, [...]

  28. [...] another post, “The Growing Trends in Content Theft” (posted on April 11, 2006), Lorelle writes the following: ”Stealing content directly off [...]

  29. [...] http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/04/11/the-growing-trends-in-content-theft/ The Growing Trends in Content Theft and other articles [...]

  30. [...] http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/04/11/the-growing-trends-in-content-theft/ The Growing Trends in Content Theft and other articles [...]

  31. [...] The growing trends in content theft. [...]

  32. [...] I follow many authoritative expert probloggers who have been at this much longer than I have.  Among them, Lorelle On WordPress offers several thoughts on content theft, a term which can be credited to her, and which are well worth reading. [...]

  33. […] The Growing Trends in Content Theft […]

  34. […] The Growing Trends in Content Theft […]

  35. […] The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijacking […]

  36. […] The Growing Trends in Content Theft […]

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  38. […] The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijacking […]

  39. […] The Growing Trends in Content Theft […]

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