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

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: reddit :: furl :: TailRank

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!

  8. Pingback: Spotting a splog « one cool site: wordpress blogging tips

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  10. Pingback: How to copyright your digital works « one cool site: wordpress blogging tips

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  12. I use to use full feeds, but I was getting scraped evry time I made a new post. I went to partial feeds, which seemed to help, but then I started losing RSS readers becuase of the partial feeds. It is a hard battle to fight because it is so time consuming to get them shut down.

    The DMCA Complaint Process, is something which we all need to take part in.

  13. well i found out my whole site was being splogged today (and had been for the past few months!) and thats when i found your information. i emailed the slimeball with the dmca complaint and he immediately removed all my posts (as well as 3 other blogs he had been copy and pasting too) then i did what you advised and ratted on him to google adsense several times. i hope the others complain too and he is shut down. what a scum bag. he was even signing the posts with a fictitious author name – no linking or credit whatsoever. i wouldnt have minded if he had linked with credits but this just got me. SOOO SOOOOOOO UPSETTING!

    Anyway thanks for the informative post. it helped ALOT!!

    PS Oh another thing that irked me – his pr was much higher then the others and i and with OUR POSTS! so he was getting hits before we were on our stuff! the louse

  14. I have been having the same problem. I found a paragraph of my posts on other people’s sites. If they used their own content and were PR 3+ blogs, I’d be a happy camper.

  15. hi!

    I have just found out this blog while i was writing about splogs. Anyway, thanks for the information. I dont use wordpress but i might create a plugin like that in wordpress for blogger.com users. And i also want to congratulate you on becoming the top5 in the blogsearch engine.

    Thanks
    Charles

  16. I was told by rackforce.com in Canada that DMCA is not used outside our borders and they use their laws only.

    I was splogged.

    I’m not posting any of my poems online now.

  17. Pingback: Wordpress Blogging Tips on Scrapers/Sploggers « Poet Verse

  18. Pingback: How to Become a Better Blogger 3 - Ethics and Links « one cool site: wordpress blogging tips

  19. Pingback: Blogupper | How to Fight With Splogs

  20. @Jonathan,
    Hi there. Thanks for dropping by. I understand where you are copying from re: feeds but I have no problem with setting them to summary on wordpress.com blogs because we cannot use the plugins. Thanks also for letting me know about the Copyfeed plugin. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/copyfeed/ I’ll be happy to send anyone having problems to you. Thanks so much for offering to help.

  21. There is some great advice there. The only item I have any real issue with is truncating the feed. Though I realize how bad of a problem this is, I don’t think it is fair to punish 99.9% of all feed readers for the act of a few, especially when you can effectively track and stop such scraping.

    Also, one plugin to add to your list, Copyfeed. It’s a veritable swiss-army knife for protecting your feed.

    Hope this helps and feel free to email me if there is anything I can do to help. I’ll gladly help you with any cases you have!

  22. Oh my, that’s just the pits. I’m glad you did everything on the list because doing so has worked for others. Make sure your feeds are set to partial ie. “summary” and only allow 1 or 2 posts to appear in the feed. Writing to Technorati is also IMO a very good move on your part. I certainly hope the web hosts take these blogs down ASAP. And, I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. :(

  23. timethief. The stumble went through. I just came across a site that had stolen quite a few of my posts. I just discovered it a half an hour ago. It seems to have happened through technorati, and even though I do not have the person on my list. They have 90 blogs registered with stolen content, and for the sole purpose of hosting AdSense on them. So, I went to work, and did everything on this list. I sure hope that it helps! I also wrote a complaint about this user to technorati.

  24. Wow really great timethief! Thanks this clears up a lot of confusion I have had over this type of thing. I have not had anyone repost my work in entirety yet, but have scratched my head over many of these splogs and wondered what the motivation behind it all was. Makes sense to me now. I guess my question is does them linking to me affect the integrity of my site? or would my sites integrity by SEO only be affected if I were to publish their link?

    Thanks!

  25. @Garg, Pentad and LaMystique
    I’m really glad that you liked the post. :) Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know that.

    Sadly this post was both given a Digg and was stumbled on the same day that wordpress.com servers went down. The claim is that the servers were down for only an hour. Bloggers who I have communicated with find that hard to believe when they look at the dramatic dip in their stats.

  26. Excellent post. What is very common as well is that they will use software that uses a thesaurus to change one or two words throughout the document. Changes the post slightly but still the majority of the post is left unaltered. Very nasty stuff indeed.

  27. Excellent post. I am going to save this, and stumble it for others to read. I’ve experienced this myself, and I didn’t know where to begin to solve the problem.

  28. Pingback: Postcards from the Funny Farm » Blog Archive » Blog Safari 5-10-08

  29. Excerpts with a link back to the source are appropriate. They are equivalent to properly attributed quotes in books. Taking the complete entry is theft and I suppose there will always be those who do that.

    It really comes down to keeping track of your content and that takes time away from blogging. Aside from using search engines yourself and Google Alerts, if you register with Copyscape then you will have the ability to locate stolen content http://www.copyscape.com/

    It’s important IMO not to let this stuff get you down. Do what must be done and get on with your blogging.

    Best wishes for happy splog-free blogging. :)

  30. I (and I’m sure many others) get splogged daily. It’s so annoying! But, as of yet, it’s only been excerpts; so I haven’t pursued. Although, yesterday I was indirectly splogged in a full entry. It was a piece a blogfriend had written. In that piece, he mentioned my blog and linked me. That’s how I found the stolen content. It truly is annoying!

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