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Best Way To Get Back At Feed Stealers

I was away all day, 8 hours, sitting at the car shop as they kept giving me false promises about when my windshield would be replaced from another windshield crack (3 in the last 6 months) caused by daily driving on I-95 in Pennsylvania alongside tractor trailers. To put it bluntly, I’m a bit P.O.ed at the moment, and things got compounded when I discovered that one of my best sites is currently being uniquely aggregated into a perfect duplicate splog that’s trying to pass itself off as legit.

My question to you. What’s the best way to get back at this jerk? Can I direct unique feed content specifically to an IP or domain name? Any suggestions are appreciated.

Author: ryancaldwell

26 thoughts on “Best Way To Get Back At Feed Stealers

  1. Ahmed: I got exactly the same standard response from FeedBurner, but who’s going to fill out a DMCA form? I mean, we’re based in the UK. Will they even pay attention to us since we’re outside their jurisdiction? What if the splog’s host is outside the US as well? Will Google honour it anyway?

    It strikes me as a lazy attitude on FeedBurner’s part – why can’t they provide tools to manage who gets access to your feeds? They could try a whitelisting approach – automatically allowing the majority of known feed readers, then flagging up people republishing the feed through the Uncommon Uses panel. One simple tickbox – to block that host – is all that’s needed.

    Remember, FeedBurner acts in service to the publisher. We need these kinds of publisher tools in order to protect our content. I don’t want to see splogs gaining an audience on the back of our hard work!

  2. You could also contact the do gooder army of lawyers at the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Honestly, they are my heroes(no sarcasm intended). There might be some type of class action lawsuit they could take up against Google now that Google owns feedburner.

  3. Yep. At the current time, Google differentiates between sites that are obviously splogs and sites that pretend to be legit. It’s easy to report the first type, and not the second.

    But I also agree that if you can get the attention of Matt Cutts, aka GoogleGuy, your chances of getting an action are about 10000% higher.

  4. This is nonsense. I’ve contacted AdSense 2-3 times in the past year and they give me the same answer: print out the DMCA form, fill it out, fax it in. Basically, good luck. They won’t do it digitally.

  5. Got this back from Feedburner support:

    Thanks for the email. You are correct, at the moment, we don’t have a general way for blocking scrapers. We’ve tried chasing down individual IP addresses and User-Agents, but that rarely works, especially since the scraping usually happens from a different IP address than where the scraped content actually ends up being hosted.

    Honestly, since most of these evil-doers are using this content to increase AdSense ad sales, we’ve found the best way to stop the scraping is to report the site where the content is showing up to the AdSense support team, and they end up shutting down that user’s AdSense account. An indirect method, yes, but a rather effective one.

    I think it’s a fair answer – tell Google (Matt Cutts, submit a spam report AND tell the AdSense peeps) and let them handle the dirt.

  6. @Brett: Good idea to report it to Matt.

    We’ve just discovered someone republishing our feeds without permission. Again we’re running through FeedBurner, and their controls are very lacking in that area. You’d think that they’d add the ability to block a host via the Uncommon Uses control panel. If they can identify where you’re being scraped from, they should be able to deny that source.

    Anyone want to drop FeedBurner support a quick email to see what they can do?

  7. He likes to collect bad guy urls, and he is ‘The Man’ in many ways. So go to the human on top.

  8. @ Blaine Moore

    I just used your the idea on the whois data. Some russian scrapers were translating my Photoshop tutorials and posting them on multiple forums, and the stolen translations still had directs links to my website. I just hope the forum owners act on the request now.

  9. If you use a lot of images in your posts, you can see who is scraping you by checking in your statistics package for hits that are not from inbound visitors. I found literally dozens of automated spam sites ripping off my content (images and all) that way. So far I have not found any way to deal with it, I just trust that google is smart enough to ban these spammers from the Serps so they don’t affect my ranking.

  10. mandrill: One way is to check all links coming in to your site. If you’ve deep-linked to your own archives in each new post, then a scraper ends up linking to you as well.

  11. @Ahmed: Skip #6 unless you’re prepared to fill out #2 on paper, and fax it to Google. What I didn’t mention was I was so pissed that Google gave the same stock answer that I emailed back “how about a human answer instead of the same stock, unhelpful cut-and-paste answer blah blah.” Guess what? For the first time ever, for me, no response back from Adsense.

    And do you think #4 will work? They’ll just laugh at you, if they even see /bother reading the polite email.

  12. Ryan, I agree. Because they collect your feed from feedburner (or from google, if they use google reader as content source).

    You should use the feedburner redirect plugin in the future, and not integrate your feedburner URI in your template, but the original WP source. The redirect plugin uses PHP redirect, still allowing you to use an .htaccess 301 [before PHP is activated )

    Technically, now people don’t subscribe to YOUR feed but to your content/your (WP) feed hosted at feedburner. If you use the feedbuner redirect plugin, they subscribe to the (WP) feed and some PHP foo redirects them to feedburner, but the originalfeed they subscribed to is still the WP one (don’t forget to set in the feedburner settings that your original URI should be used!).

    Hope this explains the problem/danger o feedburner for future blogs.

  13. I recently got scraped, and just emailed a cease and desist to the email address from the whois data. My content was off the site within 24 hours and my feed was no longer included.

  14. I’m forever finding my content on other blogs, some from feeds, some blatant cut and pastes. I shortened my feed so anyone wanting to read more has to physically visit the blog. I know some disagree with this, but it hasn’t hurt my traffic at all.

    I also send a cease and desist to the blogger and if that doesn’t work, the host. I also go through Google and Blogger (if it’s a blogger blog). A few times the host ended up shutting down the blog, a sweet victory.

    If none of that works, I write a post about how to be an unethical blogger and point to the offending post. Just about all of my readers call him (or her) out as a content thief, and eventually he removes the post.

    Though I’ve threatened legal action, so far it’s never had to come to that.

  15. Yes, as Ahmed wrote, an .htaccess 301 to the own feed was what I meant. This site gives a pretty complete explanation of the different rules for 403 with a 301 redirect to the referrer’s site.
    Sorry, it was already late in Britton land last night when I posted.

  16. Your options:

    1) use the feed copyright plugin to leave a message at the bottom of your feeds

    2) DMCA

    3) 301 redirect for the user-referrer – works well. I think what ifranky is saying is that you should 301 the referrer agent back to its’ own feed url.

    4) Email them and tell them politely to stop. At the very least this will make you feel a bit better.

    5) Go do something else for a while – like not worry about sploggers?

    6) Report them as spammers to Google – hey, why not?

  17. ifranky,
    Could you clarify the last sentence about looping the feed? How would I go about doing this, and would you be willing to help? PM me if so!

  18. Put a 301 on the user-referrer for the scraper. 😉
    If the site itself has a feed you can even loop the feed by redirecting to its own feed. 😀

  19. I use Angsuman’s feed copyrighter plugin for WordPress. Well, sometimes. When I found my car site’s feed being jacked by two sites, I activated the plugin, and my email appeared on one site’s stolen posts. But only for a day. Oh well. I’m rethinking what to do.

  20. I’m already planning a DMCA, but in the meantime, is there any fun revenge I can get?

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