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Content Scraping Reuses Blog Posts without Permission

What do popular blogs and websites such as Social Media Examiner, Copy Blogger, CNN.com, Mashable, and Type A Parent have in common? No, it’s not traffic and a loyal online community, each was a victim of the content scraping site “BuzzMyFx.” Although most bloggers fall victim to content scrapers at least once, the offending website was such an extreme case the backlash against it was fast and furious. Thanks to the quick action of many angry bloggers, BuzzMyFix was taken down in a matter of days.

If you’re not familiar with content scraping sites and aren’t sure why they’re bad and what you can do if you fall prey, read on. Not knowing what steps you can take to remove your content from a scraping site can mean someone else is profiting from your hard work.

What is content scraping?

Content scraping is when a blog or website pulls in other bloggers’ content without permission, in many cases passing it off as their own. Instead of stocking their sites with unique content, they steal entire blog posts. Some do leave the original authors’ bylines, but there are plenty that don’t provide attribution at all. This is not a good thing at all.

If you don’t care about someone taking your content and putting it on their blogs and websites without your permission, you should. These sites are stealing traffic, search engine rankings, and even advertising revenue from bloggers. Moreover, by ignoring scraping sites you’re giving the message that this practice is OK.

It’s not OK.

How was BuzzMyFx different?

BuzzMyFx was a little different from your usual scrapers. Bloggers didn’t just find their content had been posted on this site, they learned their entire blogs — down to the design and comments — had been cloned. Plus, any bloggers checking to see if their blogs were being cloned immediately found themselves being scraped as well. Dozens, if not hundreds of blogs were affected. However, bloggers didn’t take this incident sitting down. They spread the word and contacted the site’s host en masse. Thanks to their swift action, and the high number of complaints, the site was removed quickly.

How can I tell if my content is being scraped?

Fortunately for content creators, scrapers are a lazy bunch. Because their sites are automated, and they don’t check or read the content being pulled, they don’t take many precautions to ensure the people they scrape from don’t find their sites. In fact, they may not even care. Fortunately, this makes it easy to learn if your content is being stolen.

  • Link to your own articles — When you write a blog post and link to other (of your own) blog posts within that post, it’s not only good SEO. You also will get pingbacks whenever someone else steals your content because of your interlinks. You’re alerted when someone links to your content, and when content is published with your links, you’ll get that alert.

  • Google Alerts — If your name, blog’s name, or other unique keywords are set up as Google Alerts, you’ll receive an e-mail every time content is published with these keywords.

  • Analytics — When people click on your links that are in scraped content, it will show up as referring traffic in your analytics program. You should always check referring traffic so you can thank the referring site owner, but also to make sure no one is stealing your content.

What steps can I take to remove my content from a scraper?

If you find your content is being stolen, know you have several options. First, you’ll need to find out who owns the scraping site. You can find this out by doing a WHOis domain lookup, which will enable you to search for the website’s details, including the name of the webmaster, contact info, and the name of the site’s host.

Keep in mind that sometimes the website’s owner will pay extra to have his or her name kept private, but you will always be able to find the name of the host. Once you have this information, you can take the necessary steps to have your content removed.

  • Contact the site’s owner personally: Your first step should always be a polite request to remove your content immediately. Let the website owner know he or she is in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and you will take the necessary steps to report him if he doesn’t comply.

  • Contact the site’s host: If you can’t find the name of the person who owns the site, or if he won’t comply with your takedown request, contact the website’s host. You’ll have to prove your content is being stolen. As the host can be held liable for allowing the content theft, it’s in their best interest to contact the website owner and request removal.

  • Contact Google: You can contact Google and fill out a form to have them remove the website from their search engines.

  • Spread the word: Let all your blogging friends know about content scrapers when you come across them. The more people who take action against content scrapers, the less likely they are to do it again.

Contacting the webmaster with a takedown notice doesn’t have to be an intimidating process, either. The website Plagiarism Today has a wonderful set of stock letters to use to contact webmasters, web hosts, and even Google. All you have to do is insert the necessary information.

Content scrapers and cloners may try to steal your content, but you don’t have to let them. Stand up for what’s yours.

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