There is a particularly vile breed of scum populating the corners of the blogosphere. These men and women haven’t got a single shred of originality between them – yet somehow they continue to come up with new, regular, and fresh content for their blogs. That it’s not theirs is just a minor technicality – what the original authors don’t know won’t hurt them, right?  These amoral individuals are known as content scrapers- and there’s a good chance that if you’ve been writing online for any significant stretch of time, you’ve encountered one.

Chances are, you don’t even know that you did.

So how does one deal with this most vile class of plagiarist? What exactly can one do when they’ve been victimized by a content scraper? And furthermore, why should one even care about them? If they think your work’s good enough to copy, more power to them, right? It’s not like they’re actually turning a profit off your writing, is it?

Well, actually…

There’s a good chance they might actually be getting traffic that would otherwise go to your blog, resulting in both revenue and traffic loss, and potentially wreaking havoc with your SEO. Not only that, the fact that they’re trying to turn a profit off of the hard work of others (without actually doing anything themselves- most of them actually have an automated systems designed to nab content straight from the RSS feed of blogs). It’s a new level of laziness.

Thankfully, they can be stopped – here’s how.

Tracking Down Scrapers

Unfortunately, there’s no surefire method to tracking down one of these rats. The only advice I can give you is to use all the tools at your disposal. Do periodic Google searches for the titles of blog entries you’ve made, use plagiarism checking tools such as Copyscape, check for links and trackbacks to your content, and consider utilizing applications such as Tracer to keep an eye on what people are copying off your site .

Taking Scrapers Down

If a content scraper is hosting the plagiarized content on a well-known blogging platform, your course of action is very, very simple: just report them to the company that manages the platform. The staff of that organization will investigate the claim, and with any luck, shut down the offending website. If they’re not on any sort of blogging platform, or you can’t tell what platform they’re on, things get a little trickier. You can try contacting the web host (depending on who it is, they may or may not take action) or the content scraper directly (it’s highly unlikely they’ll actually respond, or take you seriously, if they do).  If you’ve convicted yourself to trying, you can do a Whois lookup on the domain.

One alternative to simply taking out content scrapers is to take advantage of them – use them to drive more traffic to your site.

In order to do this, you’re going to have to link back to your content in multiple places with each post, and include a header or footer that links back to your main page. This’ll let readers know that the content they’re being shown is yours – and that it doesn’t belong to the scraper. At the very last, it offers some degree of protection.

Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with a particularly crafty scraper, that method won’t really work, and your only recourse is to take them down.

Content scrapers are one of the most irritating plagues on the Internet, and one of the biggest blights the blogging world has ever suffered from. The methods listed here are by no means guaranteed to protect you from plagiarists, but they can’t hurt, either – ideally, you want to do whatever you can to protect your content.