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.
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.
- RSS content theft and how to prevent it
- Ripping Off RSS Feeds: RSS Syndication-Display Services Dozen-a-Dime
- Stop Stealing My Stuff – WordPress RSS Feed Copyright Notice
- Really Simple Stealing
- On Blog Plagiarism – Bottom Feeding Parasites
- How Not To Blog
- RSS Ripoff Merchants
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.
- Preventing Web Site Hijacking
- Forget About Content Theft: This Idiot’s Stealing My Entire Site!
- Stop 302 Redirect Hijacking Web Page PR (Page Rank)
- Web Host Directory – Protect Yourself From Website Hijackers
- Spammers hijack web site listings in Google
- Page Hijack: The 302 Exploit, Redirects and Google
- What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content
- Finding Stolen Content and Copyright Infringements
- The Growing Trends in Content Theft
- 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Blog
- Freedom of Speech – Bloggers Legal Rights
- AntiLeech Splog Stopper: Fighting Back Against Content Thieves
- Digital Fingerprints Help Track Blog Content Theft
- The Bitacle Battle of Blogs
- How To Spot a Splog
- Splogs – The Dark Side of Blogging
- What are Feeds?
- Maxpower’s Digital Fingerprint WordPress Plugin Updated
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network