Splog Off! Dealing with content theft

Splogs, are artificially created weblog sites which the author uses to promote affiliated websites or to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites. The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed.

splogoffimageSpam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either inauthentic text or merely stolen from other websites. These blogs usually contain a high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites (*bad neighborhood checker).

Lorelle has covered the process for taking action when your blog content is stolen by a blog scraping splogger in her post. The walk through for a DMCA complaint has been provided below as well as some blogging tips.

DMCA Complaint Process

Updated reference: March 3, 2010 DMCA Takedown 101

The next time you see that someone has been stealing your content, try to follow these steps:

(1) Determine if they have taken an entire post or if it’s an excerpt that then links back to you.

(2) If it is an excerpt with a link, don’t worry about it and ignore it, even if the excerpt contains inaccuracies. It would probably be considered “fair use”, and you would be wasting your time trying to stop it. Think of it as advertising for your blog.

(3) If it is an entire post, find out the contact information for the site by using this  whois link

  • In the section entitled “Find Out Who Owns a Domain Name”, enter the domain name
  • Click “Search WHOIS”
  • The contact information should appear under “Registrant”
  • If there is no contact information, scroll further down the page to the IP address, and click on it
  • A new window will open, and information about the host of the IP address will be listed

(4) Send a DMCA notice to the domain registrant and the host. A sample follows, just replace the bracketed information with the correct corresponding info.

[DATE]
[REGISTRANT/HOST]
[CONTACT INFORMATION]

DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT NOTICE

To Whom It May Concern:

I believe my original work, found here [URL OF YOUR POST] has been infringed upon by this website [URL OF THE SCRAPER’S POST].

The entirety of my webpage referenced above has been reproduced in violation of the Copyright Berne Convention, [INCLUDE THIS NEXT PART ONLY IF TRUE] and a clear notice of Copyright Protection is included in the sidebar of each of my webpages.

Please get in touch with me at your earliest convenience at [YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS] to inform me of any actions you have taken on this matter.

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the infringing web pages is not authorized by my registered copyright and by the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is infringed.

[YOUR SIGNATURE]
[YOUR NAME]

Blogging tips:
(1) Report the splog to Google adsense
The motivation behind these content thefts can be summarized in one word – greed. No one blogging for money wants to be placed in bad standing with Google. And some bloggers discovered that making the DMCA complaint and also reporting the site to Google adsense has been extremely effective.

After making the DMCA complaint if one simply clicks the crap out of every Google adsense ad on the splogger site this will bring the site to Google’s attention. Next if one locates and clicks the report button on any Google adsense ad and then provides all the same copy and paste DMCA complaint information (see above) to Google they will act. Following up the DMCA complaint with the complaint to Google adsense appears to be the best way of making it difficult for the the splogger to start up on the same site again or, to start another splog site.

(2) Set blog feeds to summary and reduce the number of posts you make available
Many bloggers report that their posts are stolen withing seconds of being published. It’s blog feeds that make your posts “easy pickings” for content thieves. Bloggers have the choice of providing setting the number of posts to make available on feeds. They also have the choice of setting feeds posts to summary rather than “full”. In addition, hey can choose which text will be displayed in the excerpt.

Lastly, they can insert the following : “If you are not reading this at (enter your URL here), then you are reading stolen content. The owner of the site you are on has stolen this article and is making money by you reading it. If this article interests you, please go to (enter your url as a live link) to read it on its original site and do not return to this one. Thank you.”

(3) Plugins for self-hosting wordpress bloggers
I’ve
previously published a post on this subject that you can consult. If you are a self-hosting blogger you will find the links in the post to three useful plugins that you can install in that post.

(4) For clarity post a copyright notice
Copyright notices are not required for works to be protected by copyright. Although posting a copyright notice is not required, having one posted will clarify your position with regard to exercising copyright if you do make a DMCA complaint. If you click this link to my previous post you will find information of three different kinds of copyright notices that you can use. Some bloggers seem to be unclear about Creative Commons copyright licenses so do be cautious when it comes to selecting the correct one for your purposes.

N.B. This is my disclaimer and copyright notice.

Happy blogging!

Several posts that I would like to recommend:
Five Media Hosts for Media Offloading
Are Creative Commons Licenses Confusing?
MyFreeCopyright: Free Copyright Verification
Protecting Content by Using Static Pages
Limitations of Fair Use

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45 thoughts on “Splog Off! Dealing with content theft

  1. Pingback: Can Google detect which content is original? « one cool site

  2. You rock!! Just came accross this post since I just found out someone stole my articles, and I’m so pissed off!!!
    Ok, I want revenge and I’m going to follow your instructions exactly,
    Thanks, I hope it will work….

  3. Pingback: Content thief! Jaipal Banal & mkarunreddy « onecoolsitebloggingtips

  4. TT — Thank you for this information. I have been dealing with a splogger for the last several days who ended up with three different sites and was stealing my content along with many other people’s. I used your DMCA sample and advice to create my own DMCA Notice which I sent to the hosting company. I’m happy to say all three sites have been taken down today. I so appreciate that you provided this very helpful post. Best wishes and thanks a million!
    Cindy

    • @RecyleCindy
      I’m so happy to hear that you used this post and succeeded with the takedowns. If your recall Tamera (Pentads) from BC then you will be interested to know that when when used this post, she found the splogger who stole her content had 90 splogs claimed at Technorati. She was successful in having him and all his splogs banned.

  5. Weird stuff. Well in any case, what I wanted to ask is, is it considered a violation of my copyright if someone adds the first few lines of my blog entries to his blog, adding a link on the very bottom that redirects to my blog, but in a way that it doesn’t show my blog’s url directly, but in the address field it shows a part of his own blog’s url and then in addition mine? (sorry for the complicated explanation, I don’t know how else it’s called and when I try posting the link as expample, it won’t let me post the comment :S)
    Thanks in advance :)

  6. It won’t let me write a comment to you. It always directs me to a page saying discarded. :S What am I doing wrong?

  7. Excellent post and thank you for sending a link to it. It is a growing problem these days and the extent to which digial thieves will go is to steal original work and redirect it to affiliate sites such as viagra and ringtone ads. This needs to stop!

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