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How to Stop Content Theft: The Best Tips

Stop Content TheftOne of my heroes, Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today, whom I’ve written much about and love his work on the Blog Herald, has simplified the issue of content theft into two brilliant and understandable articles.

5 Content Theft Myths and Why They Are False deals with the myths that often keep us from responding and reporting content theft.

The 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft is a simple, specific, step-by-step guide to stopping sploggers and content thieves.

I’d like to emphasize the myth that content theft happens to “other bloggers”. Like other myths, size doesn’t matter when it comes to splogs, scrapers, and content thieves. Many are noticing a trend in “smaller” blogs being ripped off more. When bloggers think that this only happens to “big bloggers”, it costs money, requires a lawyer, and takes a lot of time, sploggers and scrapers win.

Combine this with the fact that Google’s PageRank now penalizes links from splogs, scrapers, and ad-filled blogs, it also blows away the myth that such incoming links benefit a blog.

A myth going round that Jonathan doesn’t tackle is that WordPress blogs are the primary target of sploggers. is fanatic about deleting and stopping sploggers and copyright violators, and while Blogger’s Blogspot is improving, it has long been the haven for thousands of sploggers and scrapers. With WordPress growing in popularity, as a hosted and self-hosted blogging system, many assume that sploggers are specifically targeting WordPress blogs. So far, serous content thieves tend to be equal opportunity scrapers, though some WordPress Plugins make it easy for WordPress blogs to become content scrapers.

I’d like to add the following tools and resources for helping you fight and prevent copyright violation and content theft. Copyright violations and splogs can be reported to Google with the new Google Report Spam form. You can get more information on Google’s policies from their Google’s DMCA Statement and Policy.

and Google’s Blogger/Blogspot blogs offer easy flagging of spam blogs or splogs. Click the Flag This Blog button on the Blogger bar on Google Blogger/Blogspot blogs or report splogs directly via the Blogger Talk to Us page. On, you can mark splogs via the bar visible to members, choose Blog Info > Report as Spam. If you are not a member of, you can report splogs directly via the Contact Support form.

AntiLeech Splog Stopper and Digital Fingerprints WordPress Plugins (my reviews of these options) can be used to track content thieves by inserting digital “fingerprints” into your content’s feed which then can be used to search search engines to find the unique content or “fingerprints”.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted November 27, 2007 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this article, i’m in real need for such info at the moment!.


  2. Posted November 27, 2007 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    Please do report all splogs hosted here at They will be removed, no doubt about it.
    But if the blog does not have “Blog at” in the footer I can’t help – it’s not in our control.

    If a blog here at is stealing your posts, help us by saying which post of theirs/yours I need to compare. Just saying “They stole a post” does not help me to help you.

    And to everyone who does report – a huge “Thanks!”

  3. Posted November 27, 2007 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Combine this with the fact that Google’s PageRank now penalizes links from splogs, scrapers, and ad-filled blogs, it also blows away the myth that such incoming links benefit a blog.

    Sorry Lorelle, that isn’t a fact, especially in regards to PageRank.

  4. Posted November 27, 2007 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    I was going to ask about that PageRank thing that Andy quoted as well. I have a hard time believing that, especially considering that it means that if you’re unfortunate enough to have content on your blog scraped, something that you really don’t have much (if any) control over, then you get penalized, not the person scraping your content. That really doesn’t make much sense…

  5. Posted November 27, 2007 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I’m getting a lot of splogs ripping my content right now, some not even from feeds, they just copy and paste each post.

  6. Posted November 27, 2007 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I found that one scraper/sploger was taking the content off one of my blogs literally 30-40 seconds after it had been posted. They were obviously using some form of method to monitor ping services for updates and then grab new articles ASAP.

    For a little while I found a novel solution to this, I created a post with the correct title, categories and tags, etc., but first I published it with just garbage in the body, waited 60 seconds, then just copied and pasted the correct version in. Low and behold, the garbage version ended up on the splog!


  7. Posted November 27, 2007 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Like Interweb, I’m noticing the instantaneous scraping, most likely from pings. Antileech never worked for me since I use Feedburner – the image is there, but the referer is, of course, always FeedBurner. Plus it’s just whack a mole trying to identify them. Fingerprinting is nice, but still, the time required to search and track down all the content then try to get them to do something about it… Just doesn’t seem worth the time – I know that means they win, but what I’m not real sure.

    I wish I could get my hackles up about this, but with all I have to do in a given day – I simply don’t have the time to do much beyond marking the pingbacks as spam in SK2. Besides that – it would cost me much more in lost productivity to lookup their host, send C&D letters, etc. Flagging a site to google and (if it’s there) is about the extent I can handle. Plus, as you noted before, most splogs are excerpting and then linking to the original story. Its a gray area and I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle. I’ve found outright wholesale scraping of content with no link back to be the rare exception. Most is just excerpt, link, and trackback. I kill the trackback and move on because it’ snot clear what they are doing in that instance is illegal.

  8. Posted November 27, 2007 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    @Interweb Millionaire:

    Wow, this is a lot of work. I still vote for the AntiLeech WordPress Plugin to handle these things, and I believe Feedburner has ways of blocking known scrapers, so I’d check there before playing such games with your blog. Talk about time waster.

    Tracking down copyright thieves is also very easy with the Digital Fingerprint Detecting Content Theft WordPress Plugin. Instead of you doing the work to search and track down copyright thieves, it does it for you, bringing the information to your WordPress Administration Panels. Once week or so, check in, and respond. Fast and easy.

    I get a lot of scrappers and copyright theft on my blogs. I spent less than 20 minutes a week, only a minute or so a day at most, dealing with this. It usually resolves itself with a comment on the copyright infringing blog. Rarely do I write Cease and Desist letters. It’s that fast. So please stop perpetuating the myth that it takes a lot of time and money. It doesn’t. It’s a fast copy and paste.

    Splogs which use my content as a replacement for their own violate my copyright. I will tell them to stop, and remove all trackbacks from my blog. It means that much to me and takes only a few seconds to do.

    Defending your copyrights is not as complicated as people say. I’m glad that Jonathan Bailey is helping us to see that it’s much easier than we think.

  9. Posted November 27, 2007 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Wow, interesting coincidence! I just posted about this exact topic on my blog a few hours ago and now I find your post on my WP Dashboard feed.

    I’m with Andy here – I think links from splogs probably won’t hurt your site. I had a quote about this from a Google employee somewhere, but I’m too lazy to dig up the link.

    BTW, in my post I argued that by extending the digital fingerprint concept it might be possible to prevent content theft altogether. Kind of like AntiLeech + Digital Fingerprints, but with a more complex twist and on a much larger scale.

  10. Posted November 27, 2007 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    @Janis: I like your idea of combining the two Plugins.

    Actually, if Google can follow through on the TrustRank aspect of their algorithm, who links to you does carry weight, especially if that site has a lower PageRank (lowering yours) and is designated a splog. Who you link to and who links to you is very much a part of PageRank’s core. If they can find a way to recognize splogs, with links going out to help their sploggy ways, and you get caught in the cross-fire, your blog could be wounded.

    With a lot of work and research going into putting sploggers out of business, we could get burned by association.

    Either way, you are known for the people you hang out with – your crowd, right? Make sure those linking to you do so with integrity, if not copyright violations.

  11. Posted November 27, 2007 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Any word on when and if Antileech will be WordPress ver 2.3 compatible? The feedburner code uses the now missing categories table. I left a comment about this at the Antileech site but it disappeared.

  12. Peter Lurie
    Posted November 28, 2007 at 7:50 am | Permalink


    Good article… however, I wonder about some sites that I like, for example They basically highlight various interesting posts from all over, with usually one sentence as an intro, and then a link to that article.

    I read so much, and would somehow like to put all my daily discovered stuff together in a blog, similar … would that be guilty of scraping or splogging? What is the line between this, a tumblog and scraping?

    Thanks, Peter

  13. Posted November 28, 2007 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    thank you very much for your tips. im really tired of seeing my content in other people pages , either with pings or copied articles.

    thank you

  14. Posted November 29, 2007 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Lorelle the most scraped site on the internet is Wikipedia, and it seems to have no problem ranking for 90%+ of the most competitive 1 and 2 word phrases.

    PageRank is a specific patented formula, though it may have evolved a little over time in ways we are not aware of.
    It is one of 200+ ranking factors

    Google strive hard to make it extremely difficult for a competitor to damage your search results, though for instance if it could be reliably proven that Google were giving penalties across the board for buying paid links, many people might consider buying paid links for their competitors, only to report them to Google a week later.

    I can’t remember if it was the WSJ NYT or Forbes where someone from Google, and it might have been Matt was interviewed and it was hinted that theoretically it is possible for you to have your overall ranking in the SERPs damaged by a competitor, but it would have to be fairly heavy abuse for Google to consider that.

    There are things like proxy hijacking which can damage your SERPs, that Google have known about for some time, but haven’t really done much to correct afaik.

    It is possible for scraped content, just like legitimately syndicated content to rank higher than you on a particular search term, often because scraper sites are more heavily niched, so they are not so much taking traffic away from you, but gaining traffic you would never have got, especially if they are spinning your content.

    Any penalty you do receive is more likely something like a -30, though what bloggers often see is the scraper site ranking ahead of them in a search for a specific title or phrase immediately after publishing.
    That is also true of various social profiles, legitimate syndication, pages on bookmarking sites etc. Eventually link attribution kicks in from both internal and external linking, and the original source is credited. This can take 7 to 14 days.

    It is not a PageRank penalty

  15. Posted November 29, 2007 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this article. I’ve been writing lots of content and always wondered how other people deal with this issue. In a way it’s encouraging to see there are solutions.

  16. Posted December 1, 2007 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for putting this up. Splogging is one of the major reasons I took a break from blogging. I’m happy writing for free, but resent writing to make someone else a profit. I’m putting some of the suggestions into action.

  17. Posted December 1, 2007 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great tips. I normally just make sure the RSS feeds are summaries. At least that links back to my full posts

  18. Posted December 2, 2007 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    What can we do if a non-english website takes all the content
    from my site and publish it in say Polish making it extremely difficult to know of it, will google match both sites and know it’s copied content.

  19. Posted December 2, 2007 at 7:01 pm | Permalink


    You just treat it the same way you would any other content theft. Google doesn’t need to “match it”, if you provide the proof that it matches.

  20. Posted June 20, 2008 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    If you can’t help me maybe you can suggest someone who can.
    I have a fairly new business site that I have worked very hard at being picked up by the search engines. So far everyone except Live search(thats funny because I am a customer of office live) has done so. The problem is that spamming sites are using my descriptions, title tags, page names, site name and who knows what else to acheive false site ranking. Do a Google search on and you will see my site followed(hopefully) by 30 or so phony sites.
    Is there any thing I can do about this?

  21. Posted June 20, 2008 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    @ wesley edens:

    The articles within this article will help you cut down on content theft and spamming. And honestly, who will really search for your URL but those already familiar with it? I would never think of putting that in a search unless I was already familiar with your site. Then I’d put that in the address. You are searching using a useless search term, so that isn’t any help other that to tell you who is abusing your content and concept. For that, talk directly to Google as EVERYONE is getting the same abuse and no one has come up with an answer for that. A lot of those sites, I bet, were on Google’s Blogspot, which I wrote about recently, a blight on the web if there ever was one.

26 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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