Boy, was I pissed.
Long story short, I had moved my blog from Typepad to WordPress and someone snatched up my old domain.
Can’t quite figure out how 2.5 years of blog content came with the deal, but I’m working on getting the answer.
I’m still cleaning up that mess, which involves meeting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requirements: proving that the content is mine and that I did not “authorize its use.”
Through this process, I’ve learned what I should have been doing to protect my content:
5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Blog Content
1. Decide how much you are willing to give away.
Everyone feels differently about this, so you need to set your own rules. For me, it’s a good thief-bad thief thing.
I don’t have a problem with someone republishing my content.
As long as they attribute the post to me and give a link back to my site.
I like it when my content is shared. When someone publishes an excerpt, talks about it and links back to the full post on my site, that’s more than okay with me. (That would be the ‘good thief.’)
But reprinting my post word for word and slapping your name on it? Or replicating my whole blog and stuffing ads all over it, so you’re even making a little from my hard work?
Okay, now you are the ‘bad thief.’
2. Let people know what you do and don’t allow.
If you want to give people limited rights, but still have some control over your work, you might consider a Creative Commons license. If you click on the notice in the sidebar of my blog, below my photo, you’ll be taken to my licensing page, where it spells out what you can and cannot do with my content.
3. Know when it’s happening.
One of the most popular ways of stealing your content is through RSS feeds. If you have a WordPress blog, you can install the anti-feed scraper plugin. This makes your posts somewhat harder to scrape by appending a little message to the end of all your posts (only in the RSS feeds).
If thieves steal your content, they’ll steal it complete with links to your origial content and you’ll be able to see it in your blog stats.
In addition to using it to find out if you’ve died, Google Alerts is a handy tool because you can set up your terms and get an email with any content someone is publishing with that specific term. (For instance I have an alert set up for Cat’ Eye Writer.) To set one up, go here.
4. Contact the blog owner and try to settle things that way first.
Believe it or not, some people think that they can copy and reproduce anything they find on the Internet. I swear to God, they do.
It’s much easier to ask them to take it down first, and often they will. It saves you the time of having to go through the process the federal law requires.
5. Put other content protection strategies in place.
Visit copyscape regularly. Put in your blog’s URL and get a report of duplicated content, along with a percentage of content that is duplicated.
And on this site, you’ll find more strategies, like using an RSS signature and including a digital signature with your posts.
Just know that you can’t catch it all. Make peace with it. Because some things are going to slip through.
My theory, though, is that there is a special place in hell for the content scrapers.
What about you?
Do you mind if people share your content?
Have you ever had your blog content swiped?
What other content protection strategies can you share?