Content Scraping and Blog Swiping – How Do You Handle It?

I am reading a post that popped up in my morning scan of socialmention*. At first, it sounds vaguely familiar. Then very familiar.

There is another one. Familiar. Very familiar. OMG. Has someone plagiarized my posts?

thief.jpgThe first was a piece on Sarasota’s bid for the Google ultra-high speed broadband project, and Sarasota’s brilliant public relations move of renaming City Island “Google Island.” This was posted as a column with my Miami Internet Business Examiner hat. The article was picked up by SarasotaStyle at Blogger. It is attributed to me, and there is a hyperlink to the original Miami Business Examiner column.

The second article was a long piece on the Top 10 Mobile Shopping Sites, which I originally posted on this blog, and, a couple months later, retooled and uploaded to my EzineArticles account. This was reposted on Mobile Shopping News. It’s a long article, and they posted the entire piece. It actually looks nice. Not spammy at all. This repost is “great” – it included my short bio, a link to my blog and noted the source as EzineArticles. "Great," and yet, not good.

We are used to our press releases appearing on “junk” websites as filler, and in random newsfeeds on splogs (spam blogs). I have -- like everyone else who blogs regularly -- a long list of spam sites that have picked up my RSS feed (which is set on short) to generate content. It’s different when a carefully and thoughtfully written blog post is swiped in a “cut and paste” job. This is content scraping. Something that looks like a human being did the work, not a bot. My feelings vacillate between flattered and annoyed.

What is the etiquette for reposting someone’s blog content?

“Web” -etiquette implies that you must get permission (by email should be fairly simple) from any author to repost their content. Bloggers and other creators of Web content own the intellectual property rights of their content, unless they have been paid for the rights to that content. In that case, the publisher – who has purchased the content – owns the rights.

This is what happens: by scraping content from a blog or other website, you are stealing someone else’s work and you are taking Web traffic away from them. Even if you very correctly and politely post their information, you still have stolen their traffic. Why would anyone click through to the original author’s site if they already READ the entire piece on yours? The other issue is that the original content has already been indexed by the search engines. How much value does it have for your site, word-for-word, anyway?

It takes some thought and patience to get permission to reuse Web content. But remember, it takes a lot of work to create quality Web content: blog posts, articles, and reviews.

There are great ways to appreciate another blogger, that say "kudos, fellow writer, I love what you do!"

♦ Comment on the post in your blog, linking back to the original post
♦ Expand upon the content, linking back to the original post
♦ Quote the author of the blog, linking back to the original post
♦ Answer the author, linking back to the original post

It's much appropriate to react to an excellent post or content on someone else’s site with an original post of your own reaction and a link to the external content. That’s simple enough.

Don’t fall into “hey, this is cool, I’ll put it on my site,” behavior. If you have done this, forward links to the original author and ask for permission, even if after-the-fact. Do it now. If someone asks you to take down content that you have “borrowed”, remove it immediately.

I’m not going to ask either of these other sites to remove my content. The bother me, and, I'll get over it.

But, I always keep tab on my online content. If I discovered a site that was regularly scraping my posts, I would no longer be flattered. If this is happening to you, use Google Webmaster tools to report the offending site. Email the site owner, if you can find them. Demand that your content be removed.

How do you handle content lifting?  |  digg it!  |  reddit reddit!  |  Google!

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I can understand the frustration, but at the same time, as long as the link back to the original article is included it can still help, depending on what you're trying to accomplish. If you're a marketer (and as long as all the links in the article are intact) it would seem to do more good than harm. The more places you are, the merrier, right?

If they were to flat out rip your stuff & put their name & links on it, then absolutely heads should roll. As someone just starting on my blogging journey myself this post definitely opened my eyes to what I should keep an eye out for. Thank you for the post.

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