Finding and Fighting Blog Plagiarism

Posted on February 15, 2007

Aral Balkan busted RexyStudios for copying two of his blog posts and passing them off as their own work. RexyStudios also hotlinked an image from Balkan's blog when they copied his posts so Balkan changed the image to make it include a message from RexyStudios' CEO admitting to the content theft.
To add insult to injury, they didn't even do a good job of it. They hotlinked the images from my blog and didn't bother to change the links (so I got the pingback notification.) If there's anything I hate worse than a plagiarizer, it's an incompetent plagiarizer.

Of course, when someone hotlinks an image from your site, there really is only one thing to do. (No, no, not that; I'm not that unkind.) I do hope they like the new images on their blog that have their Founder and CEO admitting to ripping off my blog posts, though.
Changing a hotlinked image is one way to fight blog plagiarism but some sites scraping your blog's content may not even notice. Unfortunately, blog plagiarism is pretty common and RSS makes it much easier for people to steal your content. Chances are there is a splog out there right now copying text from this blog or your blog.

Mark Evans has written a post about tracking down plagiarism and mentions a couple startup companies focusing on fighting plagiarism, such as Attributor. Evans also mentions the highly informative Plagiarism Today blog.

Plagiarism Today has a detailed post about using warning headers. Unfortunately, warning headers aren't very effective and might confuse your readers -- especially your RSS readers. You could put a copyright notice at the end of your feed entry (the footer) -- that should be less confusing to people reading your blog in a news reader. It won't stop scrapers from copying your content but it might let anyone that happens to read one of your posts on a splog know they are in the wrong place. The Stopping Internet Plagiarism articles found on the right side of Plagiarism Today are also informative -- especially Step 4: Contacting the Host.