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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Protecting blog content from plagiarism

When we write online, or generate any form of digital content online, it is important to protect them from being copied. We spend time, effort and money on the contents we generate while someone else out there easily copies them and make money effortlessly (in most cases by publishing ads from say adsense).

Recently I found few blogs and sites copying my content and had to take a series of corrective actions. This post shares my experience…

Copying content can be of many forms. Main ones are below:
1 Content Copy Paste: A blogger had copied several posts of mine as is, along with images and had published in his blog, with some minor changes to the title and removing reference to my identity.
2 Websites displaying full content of my blog post as is within their own frames, from my RSS feed, eliminating need for their visitors to visit my blog (original source) and thus taking away my traffic effortlessly
3 Image copy- even by mainstream media.

How to detect plagiarism of your online content?
The first two forms can be detected by using copyscape or simply using google- take a long sentence from a post and search it with quotes- all other sites displaying the same will get listed and find out which one of those are not authorized by you to display the content. Last one is little difficult to identify unless you or your friends/readers accidentally spot it in print.

Problems with plagiarism

  • You won’t get credit for your work
  • Someone else makes money off your work
  • Some sites that plagiarize are more popular than your site and search engines/readers may think they are the original owners and you might have copied from them.
What to do when you find your contents blatantly copied?
If the copyright violation has happened on a Google product such as blogger, you can file a complaint with google to take down the offending post. Use this link to file a take down request with Google. I did and within 48 hours the offending posts were taken down by google, though the blog is still very much active, surviving on copied content from elsewhere.

Complain to Adsense about the sites using copied content. Money is primary motive for most of the content thieves. If their adsense account is suspended, they lose motive to continue running the site with copied contents

Similarly take down notice can be served via other platforms as applicable.

Protecting your content from being copied.
Prevention is better than cure. After my recent experience, I’ve made following changes:

1.  Added codes that prevent text coping. Initially I took a code from an online site that would prevent select and copy function on my blog post. But it had a flaw- it would work only after page loads completely. It was possible to copy while page loading is in progress. Later Kudpi Raj provided another code, which was perfect- won’t let anyone copy the content even while page load is in progress.

Negative side of this is that even I can't copy my own content from my blog- the super strict code doesn't give any concession- but that is ok in the larger interest.

2. I have discontinued full RSS feed.
This might cause inconvenience to some of my readers who read entire post on their email inbox without visiting the blog. But I had to discontinue full feed of the posts, as many sites were feeding off these feeds and showing all my contents within their site, denying me traffic. Half feed gives only partial content through RSS and to read full post, one will have to visit the blog. I apologize for the inconvenience caused to some genuine readers, but had to take this decision in larger interest of my IP rights.

3. Low res images- have been doing this since long time. Print media doesn’t like to use low res images, so probability of them copying will be low. Also I have added another piece of code provided by Kudpi Raj that disallows image copying.

4. Delayed sharing on social media. It is common for us to share the new post on twitter, FB, Google + etc. These places have much higher ranking and sometimes distract traffic. So I usually give some time gap between sharing new post on social media channels, so as to give some time for Google bots to crawl my blog and index the content first. I believe this technique is better than sharing instantly, but not very sure. Expert comment welcome.

Note that there is no fool proof way to protect your content. One can still read and rewrite again or take print screens or use some other means to copy your content. Still, above steps discourage majority of the culprits.

Related: Times of India copied my photo

4 comments :

R Niranjan Das said...

This is a constant fight for bloggers and we quite struggle with it. A photograph of mine was happily flicked by a tourism board, which was later taken down.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

THanks Niranjan for sharing your experience

Anonymous said...

Well my original thoughts are now shared directly on Facebook, though I have blog for marketing in BlogSpot and elsewhere I am not updating same deffered technique you are adopting. Indiabackpacker is very popular but I have hardly updated recently which I will do eventually. Regarding copycats you can t stop them Srinidhi, because they are like parasites even journalist copy from my site and change wordings because their vocabulary and command over English is high, I have noticed on journalist doing it penning in Deccan Herald like Mirjan fort etc.... One has to be prepared to swallow the bitter pill and move on.....umesh derebail

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for your comment Umesh Sir