Chris recently raised the difficult issue of content theft and how to tackle it.
We’ve certainly had our share of rip-off artistes and generally we’ve found it to be a two-tiered problem.
- Becoming aware your content has been ripped in the first place
- Getting something done about it
Finding your ripped content fast is paramount. If Google or Yahoo spiders stumble across the ripped content first, the damage is done. If you’re not identified as the first known occurence of that content it may difficult to recover trust.
Common sense tells you Google is your first port of call to locate your ripped-off content, but one great tool not many people seem to know about is Copyscape — a free, purpose-built, anti-plagiarism search tool. Just give Copyscape the URL of your content and it will do the grunt work and report back to you.
Probably the coolest thing about Copyscape is it doesn’t require you to enter ‘keyword phrases’ (headings, paragraphs, etc) from your content in the hope of matching the rip-off, as Google would. Copyscape analyses entire pages similtaneously and can seemingly easily detect matched pages, passages, paragraphs and even matched sentences. Some of the copies I’ve tracked down have been deeply obscured with hidden CSS, but Copyscape wasn’t fooled.
Ok , so you’ve located rip-offs. What now?
It’s easy to feel a bit forlorn and helpless, but it’s generally not as hopeless as you might think. Copyscape provides whois info as well as practical advice in responding to plagiarism.
It’s useful to remember that IP thieves very often rely on other larger, more reputable organisations (their ISP, Adsense, Commision Junction) to operate, so they usually don’t want to risk their server/revenue in a fight. If you’re courteous but very clear they’ll often quickly backdown.
It’s also worthwhile looking at Copyscape’s commercial service called CopySentry which automatically monitors the web for rogue copies of your content and then reports the results back to you via email. I can’t vouch directly for this paid service yet , but if your content is one of your key assets, this seems like a pretty cost effective way to protect it.
Either way, the free service is very useful for anyone running a content site.