Content scraping is completely out of control online. It seems no piece of content is safe from the many sites that like to copy it and republish it with or without links back to the original source. A popular online publisher could spend every minute of every day trying to fight the many sites that republish its content without permission. Even a small-time online publisher could find themselves wasting hours and hours to the losing battle against content scrapers who simply don’t care that you oppose their inappropriate republishing of your content.
Several years ago, I was one of those online publishers who used to get angry when I found my content republished on another website without my permission, with or without my byline and with or without a link to the blog or website where my content was first published.
Today, not so much.
So why do I ignore content scrapers these days?
The easy answer would be that I’m lazy. That’s probably true, but I prefer to tell myself that I started to look at the bigger picture when it comes to content scraping, and that’s when my attitude changed.
What if someone republishes your content without a byline or link to your site?
One could argue that content scraping done without your original byline is plagiarism. That’s true. It’s illegal to republish someone else’s content as your own. However, unless you have enough time to police the scores of websites that are simply republishing content without permission in an effort to earn money through pay-per-click ads and the like, you’re probably fighting a losing battle. There needs to be a larger shift in protecting copyrights in the online space and an official way to report offenses. There is no online copyright police, and a single blogger can’t realistically fight it on a day-to-day basis. We can only hope that someday there will be. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about plagiarism and online copyrights, Jonathan Bailey writes a great weekly post about the topic on Freelance Writing Jobs as well as on his personal blog, Plagiarism Today.
What about those content scrapers that do include your byline but no link back to your website?
Well, that stinks. There really is no other way to describe this scenario. If a search engine finds your name associated with the content on a spam site or a site that does not match the brand image you’ve tried to create for yourself online, and that entry appears in a Google search result for your name, then that isn’t a good thing for you. However, you can bury that result with more great content that is SEO’d better than the content scraper’s site is. If you can do that, then you don’t have to worry about this situation too much. If you’re working hard to build your own site where your content is published first, then errant search engine results from content scrapers will fall to the bottom of the list.
Also, if someone finds content with your byline on a content scraper’s site that they like, they’re likely to search for your name either on that site (where they won’t find any additional results) or on Google. That’s where they’ll find all of your great content entries from your blog and website. In other words, publish often and publish great content on your own site, and content scrapers won’t get long-term traffic benefits from the post or article they copied from your blog.
Finally, what about the content scraper sites that do include your byline and a link back to your website?
While it’s true these more “generous” content scrapers will get some extra page views and possibly some search traffic from your scraped content, at least your link is there. If a reader likes what he finds, he might just click the link to read more from you.
So what should you do about content scrapers? It’s totally up to you. Over the years, I’ve decided that for me, the time it takes to fight content scrapers is better spent in other activities that actually further build my online presence in the manner I want to build it. I don’t think my career or business has truly suffered due to my focus on other activities. My activities and income sources are diverse enough that content scrapers don’t really hurt my ability to reach my goals. If a call for reform against content scrapers is made, I’ll certainly support it, but I’m not able to chase scrapers down one by one. I accept that and move on.
Now, the illegal sharing of books electronically …. that’s another story entirely!
Do you fight each and every one of the scrapers who republish your content on their sites? Why or why not? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.