What to do if you’re Splogged

(Disclosure: I am not a lawyer.  If you need real legal advice to fight copyright theft, find a real lawyer…don’t go by what I say.)

The call came in this morning via Twitter: “Hey – Someone stole a friends WP blog content and put the content on another domain. What option exist to stop this?!

It’s a common occurrence with WordPress blogs to have your content grabbed by a “Splogger” or spam blogger. Wikipedia:

Spam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either inauthentic text or merely stolen (see blog scraping) from other websites. These blogs usually contain a high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites.

In a nutshell, someone is using the content they’re stealing off your blog to do something, such as increase linking for SEO, or earn Adsense revenue, etc.

Here are two things to make content theft a little less likely:

  • Send only RSS Summaries – Go to WordPress admin -> Settings -> Reading and change the setting for “For each article in a feed, show” to Summary.  This will keep your full text from being grabbed.  The problem is that your RSS subscribers will only see summaries of your posts.  Which probably isn’t a bad thing…
  • Do not automatically approve trackbacks – some of these folks are looking for link backs.  Don’t automatically approve pingback/trackbacks and you might even want to put a rel= nofollow on comment links.

Other than that you’re going to be forced to track them down.  Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Whois Search – find out who owns the domain and who is hosting it.  You’re going to need to notify both of them.
  • Send a Cease and Desist Letter to the site owner – Jonathan Bailey at PlagiarismToday.com has a good stock letter available, as well as tons of information on this subject.  See his “Stock Letters” page. Of course, in most cases, they’re going to be hard to find.
  • Send a DMCA Take Down Notice to the Host – Again, grab a stock take down notice from the same page linked above. I find out as much as I can, then contact the hosts abuse@ email address requesting take down.  They generally turn around and send an email about how to properly request a take down.  Follow their instructions TO THE LETTER.

Now here is my normal course of action (and Jonathan Bailey is going to be really annoyed…):  I do nothing.  I’ve become complacent.  Splogs may be a pain, but if they can only grab my summary, there’s little harm here.  Yes it ticks me off, but I’ve expended a lot of energy sending take downs, etc.,  and in the long term, it comes to little or no benefit to me.

If you really want the low down on this stuff, you need to read PlagiarismToday.com – it’s a tremendous resource.

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