Anne's Blog: Blog Copyright Theft on the Rise Part II
I was worried that my blog last week about copyright theft
(link to read it below) would spark a storm of folks posting
nasty things about MarketingSherpa or my (assumed) naivete
about the safety of any content on the Web.
Instead the opposite happened. Loads of you wrote (and even
called) to say you had been worried about the same problem.
Here's some useful advice and hotlinks:
-> Add a formal copyright line and Terms & Conditions
At the very least, add copyright info to your published
content. (See links below to copyright info for bloggers and
publishers.) And don't make the almost universal mistake of
forgetting to update the year in the (c) date at the bottom of
your Web pages annually.
But, don't count on formal legal language on your site to
dissuade theft. For example, I got a note from the folks at
WorldWIT saying their email discussion group postings appear to
be routinely stolen and posted online by another site,
apparently for AdSense revenue, despite WorldWIT's explicitly
worded terms & conditions saying it should not be done.
-> Slim down your RSS feeds
Reader Elise Bauer of Elise.com wrote in, "Many bloggers
release full-text RSS feeds, making it extremely easy for
others to automatically lift their entire article. TypePad
blogs, for example, release full-text RSS feeds by default,
exposing their own, often unknowingly, to bot theft.
"Who wants to spend their time trying to track down all these
instances? Better to release just an excerpt in RSS. That way
aggregators point back to your site, driving traffic to your
site instead of stealing your content."
-> Embed an "invisible" copyright line in articles
Reader Dave Stein of HowWinnersSell.com said he's fed up with
people stealing his articles "left and right." He notes, "Most
of the time a phone call will shake up the offender. I've
actually made a friend or two who didn't realize their
lower-level people were stealing this content."
He added, "One of the tricks I learned is to embed "(c) 2005 -
Dave Stein - all rights reserved" in a white-colored font in
the article. At least it's easy to prove to an offender that
they've pirated stuff. Plus, since I've keyed that string into
Google Alerts, I can find out whenever someone posts it with or
-> Ask for a hotlink
Reader Brian Cha, Author of Email Marketing Resources blog,
noted, "as I'm sure you already know, your page will rank
higher in regards to search engine optimization when other
sites link back to yours. So instead of trying to fight blog
thieves, write some guidelines on how articles can be used (in
regards to copyright) to help out those who legitimately want
to spread the good word."
So, perhaps we should add a note to all MarketingSherpa
articles saying "If you like this article, please link to it
*instead* of copying it. Thanks."
-> Include preferred attribution lines
Reader Mary Schmidt of Schmidt & Associates, notes, "Personally
I'm all for people taking my content - just as long as they
attribute it to me."
So, if you are writing articles or blogs hoping to get noticed
and perhaps land clients for your main line of business, then
you should try putting a formal attribution and re-use line at
the end of each item posted online. This might start, "Yes, you
may reprint this article/blog entry, as long as you include the
following bit of text..."
(Of course, since MarketingSherpa is *not* a consultancy or
marketing company, this would not apply to our articles. We're
solely a publishing company and our articles are our product,
rather than being marketing vehicles for something else we
offer. So naturally, copyright protection takes on a different
urgency for us.)
-> Tell Google in writing if someone steals your copyrighted
As I noted last week, one reason some people steal others'
content is because they want to get Google AdSense revenue with
content-rich pages without the effort of actually creating
To that end, many sites I've seen appear to be using automated
bots to scrape content from other sites, and then post
hundreds, even thousands of pages online with AdSense listings.
I'm not going to accuse any sites in particular here, suffice
to say it's a quickly increasing problem and loads of folks in
the online publishing community have been noticing it.
Here's what Barry Schnitt in Google's PR department said in
response to my query about this problem:
"Copyright violations are against our policies. We ask that the
owner of the copyrighted material comply with the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act (the text of which can be found at the
U.S. Copyright Office website: http://lcWeb.loc.gov/copyright/)
and other applicable intellectual property laws. In this case,
this means that if we receive proper notice of infringement, we
will forward that notice to the responsible web site publisher.
To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a
My take on this? It's not awfully reassuring. Google seems to
want to put the policing ball in the copyright owner's corner
despite the fact that few of these stolen content sites would
exist if it were not for AdSense revenues.
Plus, he didn't comment at all on my second question, which was
in essence, what about policing those sites -- known in the
industry as "Google Spam" -- that post such short snippets of
scraped content that they don't actually break copyright law.
They dance around the law and usually present no real value to
Again, these sites are a burgeoning cottage industry that
appears to be wholly funded by AdSense revenue potential.
My advice, if you are investing in an AdSense ad program, watch
your metrics very carefully (separately from your AdWords ROI).
Also consider the brand image implications of your ad showing
up on automated bot sites. Do you want to be visibly sponsoring
cruddy Web pages?
Until such time as Google decides to police more rigorously the
sites ads appear on, buyer beware.
-> Five useful hotlinks about copyright and blogging:
#1. US copyright law explained in fairly clear English for
bloggers with common questions (Thanks to reader Alan Herrell
who pointed out this link in his Raving Lunacy blog):
#2. Official copyright info site from US Federal Government:
#3. Copyscape -- Quickly see if any Web page tracked by Google
search is copying content from a particular page of your site
#4. Example of what appears to be an automated bot site that
collects snippets of content from blogs and sites without
adding any additional value/commentary, for the sole purpose of
Google AdSense revenue (Thanks to reader Tom Hespos of
Underscore marketing for sending in this link):
#5. Last week's column on Blog Copyright Theft:
... oh and by the way, want to link to this column in your Blog
or ezine? Here's a permanent link:
Anne Holland - Publisher
P.S. As always, our Case Studies and articles are open access for
about 10 days. Then they go into SherpaLibrary where you can
research for a small fee. The links always remain the same.
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Marketing and site design teams for most ecommerce
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Are you hoping to leverage your email newsletter or
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(Open access until July 31st)
#4. How to Market Technology Products & Services to Hospitals -- 4 Must-Know Strategies & 5 Tips
Marketing by vertical is in fashion now for the high-tech
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(Note: This Special Report is about 7 pages long, so you may
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(Open access until July 30)
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PR people and marketers who want to hang out at the Junkies
community sites. Yes, you can post news releases in the approved
spots. Here's our interview with Executive Editor John Dorsey:
(Open access until Aug 1st)
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#8. New Giveaway: Web Copy That Sells: Creating Killer Copy Every Time
Author Maria Veloso has dissected every aspect of well
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We heartily recommend it for training new writers on your staff.
Our favorite parts are the lists of words to include in copy.
Very handy for punching up tired copy, or kicking you into
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Maria has donated five copies to MarketingSherpa's book contest.
If you'd like to toss your hat to try to get one, click:
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