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How to Detect and Deal with Content Theft, Autoblogs

Online content theft is not a new problem. We are so used to it that sometimes we chose to be ignorant of it. Can you imagine the time and effort we could spend on dealing with scrappers? Endless. Even so, does that mean it’s ‘okay’ to let it happen?

So obviously I have a good reason to blog about it again. It’s not the first time my article was scrapped by someone or autoblogs, but this time it has gone a little too far! I’ll explain why in a minute.

How Did I Found Out About the Content Theft?


Two ways, basically. Coincidentally I was running a duplicate-content-check of my post about 16 Facebook Applications to Boost Popularity of Facebook Fan Page, interesting finding:

1. Google Search

– I posted a random paragraph on Google Search and found out a site that ranks higher than mine in the results (possible more popular too):

2. Copyscape

– Copyscape is a free duplicate content detection software that helps to monitor and check for duplicate entries. I double-checked the results and they matched, of course.


Now How is This Particular Case Upsetting?

It is not an autoblog and particularly ‘well-planned’. Despite the fact that I had spent the entire week working on the post, what upsets me the most is the lack of ethics from this scrapper – he sent in the stolen content as a Guest Post! This is serious, not only he jeopardizing his very own image but threatening the other site’s reputation as well! He modified the title, relocated the facebook app sequence and replaced my graphics with his. He removed all the backlinks to my site which is why I was unable to found out earlier. After all the ‘effort’ he left the sentences as they are, word for word. So, need I say more:

  • No notification to re-use the content
  • No link back or credit given to the original content
  • Assuming the article belongs to him based on the way he responded to comments
  • Getting link love and credit for his own site and service with stolen content
  • Hurting another site’s reputation that published the stolen content


What to Do After Found Out about the Content Theft?


1. Inform/write to the site owner who published the content

Several ways to reach :

a. Email
b. Contact Form
c. Comment Section
d. Social Media Profiles

I wrote an email to the site owner reporting the case and requested for post removal. I had a good look at the site and the services it is using, so just in case the site admin decides to ignore me, I will know whom shall I report to.


2. Request for Opinions from Friends

I had requested opinions from fellow bloggers and friends, most of them agreed on reporting this and standing up for justice. I’m on their side 100%, and it’s a relief to see people are still valuing original content in the internet. Some suggested to request for credit instead of removal, that has to depend on how the discussion goes afterward.

Join us for the discussion at the fan page if interested, we’ll be happy to see you there too.


3. Write to Google and Inform about the Duplicate Content

a. Spam Report – Google Search Results
Request Google to remove the specific web page from appearing on the Google Search results with the keywords used. Stating your content is the original.

If you own a Webmaster account, you will receive a sent report to be followed up if needed.

b. Google AdSense DMCA Complaint Form

This is particularly useful if the site is using Google Adsense. By filling up this form Google Adsense will be notified about the suspicious act and review the troubled site whether their account should be blocked or fail to meet the requirement as a trusted site for publishers’ ads.



What is the Situation Now?

From the Site Owner:
I received a response from them, requesting to grant a few days to sort things out. No specific date given but I hope they will look into this matter seriously and asap.

From the Scrapper:
Just out of curiosity, I ‘visited’ the scrapper’s site and after I ran a check on Google, no surprise he also scrapped from other sites for his own posts as well. Unsure if he is aware that scrapping is harmful to both his site and his service, which brought me to another major concern about:


Autoblogging: NO WAY to Build Brands & Provide Value

If you’re a new blogger, avoid automated blogging at all costs. Blogging is not a get rich scheme where you can trash other people’s work for own benefits and it will eventually hurt your site and own reputation in long term. If you cannot respect people’s work, how do you expect people to put trust in your service as well? Same as in real life, why would you steal to gain publicity at all? That’s not right and not worth to risk for it.


Do Not Stop Caring about Content Theft

Yes, there is no way we can stop our content from being scrapped/stolen, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore this completely. Continue to report, inform your blogger buddies if you ever came across their work on other sites. If you decide to let them be, at least request for a link back with a mention to the original author. People say there is no more originality in this world wide web, but I do think it’s necessary to respect other people’s work after all. It’s about ethics, asking for permissions, respect and care about Copyright Infringement issues.

Also, always be careful with guest posts from unfamiliar senders. Check them thoroughly to avoid becoming the victim.


Now Is Your Turn…

Did you ever encounter content theft? How do you normally deal with such issues? Kindly share in your comments below.


  1. Good stuff as always, Ching Ya.
    I’ve used Copyscape quite a few times, once sending an email and asking to Manager of an article directory to remove my content, as it was posted by someone else. They had scraped whole paragraphs. Anyhow, this is a great article, as many simply pay little attention to this.
    .-= Jimi Jones´s last blog ..Creative Ways to Spread Your Brand =-.

    1. Thanks Jimi for the support. This is actually the second time I wrote about content theft, but I think it’s good to keep us all reminded about this serious issue regardless how many time it struck us. Appreciate your comment as always, Jimi.

      1. The problem here is that you cannot win this war against the scrappers. It’s easy for people to put up a website now a days and add scrapped content to it. Even if I find the scrapper site out and raise a DMCA, the site-owner might put up another scrapper site with a different domain name.

        And the worst thing is when established article sites like ‘articlebase.com’ approve scrapped content without checking. Anyone can submit articles to a site like articlebase and no matter how many DMCA I raise, I will not be able to deal with the problem.

        I run a article directory too, but I ensure that people only submit original content. Check everything thought copyscape. It’s surprising that sites like articlebase who are infact ‘google adsense parterns’ allow scrapped content. These websites have thousands of backlinks and therefore the chances are that their scrapped content will rank high up than the original article. So these sites should really hire quality labor and ensure scrapped content does not go live.

        But we are in a helpless situation here where the spammers win unless you have the time and energy required to keep sending copyright emails.

  2. This article really ticked me off! I can’t believe the audacity of people who would steal content — thanks so much for the heads-up about the lengths people will go to, and how we can combat it.

    I did have someone steal content from another blog I write called “Love Covers All,” but it was a partial post linking back to my blog with “Read more.” Man, that one was hard to leave alone, but the fact is, that person’s blog is NOTHING but partial posts with “Read more” links back to original blogs. I let it go, hoping for traffic, since my “Love Covers All” blog there is brand new. Would you have asked them to remove it? I really wrestled with it.

    Michelle Quillin for New England Multimedia

    1. Michelle, thank you for sharing and I really appreciate your comment here.

      Indeed, after I ran the search noticed that most of the duplicate content are from partial paragraphs as described by you. After a long thought, I too have decided to let that slide for now as it only displaying post excerpts. I’ll reserve my priority to deal with more serious cases such as the one in the post; if time permits, will need to think about combating autoblogs too thoroughly.

      Appreciate your visit. 🙂

    1. Thank you Evelyn. Yes, it’s really alarming how content can be ‘shared’ like that. I am not impressed at all. The site owner has yet responded as he/she promised. Sigh.. this is not good.

  3. I’ve had that happen to me in the past (not from my own blog but from a website I used to write for). I imagine it’s happening with my blog as well, but as you said, it takes a lot of time to search for these sites.
    I’m glad you’ve raised awareness about this, Ching Ya. Too many bloggers don’t take this seriously.
    What audacity to steal someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. It’s crocked!
    I know how angry it must have made you. I know I was. The thing is, these people don’t care and don’t show any remorse. I hope you get to the bottom of it and get this sorted satisfactorily.
    Your posts are always in-depth and well-researched. It’s a shame someone has stolen your hard work and given credit for it.
    .-= Anne Lyken-Garner´s last blog ..Make More From Adsense- Tips For Small-Time Bloggers =-.

    1. Anne,

      Thank you so much and it means a lot. I am relieved to see a lot of bloggers/writers have responded to this, not just here but on Facebook discussions as well! As a writer, everyone has worked hard to provide value, I’m glad a little incident like this can bring awareness to blogosphere once again.

  4. Excellent post Ching Ya and you have handled all this with such a balanced point of view I can only applaud you! Great info for those who face the same situation too.

    1. Thank you Annie, may this experience can bring awareness to others. Never stop to combat content theft, it’s wrong and we should be against it at all times. Appreciate your support, my friend. 🙂

  5. Aw man, that sucks, I hope they’ll remove it for. Not only because you spent all week working on it, but because it’s YOUR content – not theirs.

    I once had a review of a product stolen, a simple copy/paste. After having looked at the site it was obvious that the site was all about that – copying other peoples reviews and replacing affiliate links with their own. I wrote them to have it removed, but nothing happened. Then I wrote the seller of the affiliate product and they blocked his affiliate code – that’ll teach him. Some time later, they decided to edit the review – they probably just stole somebody else’s review.

    Would be cool if Google was able to see which version came online first and then simply not allow duplicate versions to be seen in the results.
    .-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Review- Sony MDR-570LP Lightweight Fashion Stereo Headphones =-.

    1. Klaus, thank you for the comment and shared with us your story as well. That is so low – stealing content and putting their affiliate links all over? This is a good lesson you gave them, and I’ll be sure to remember that.

      And I’m completely with you on this one – Google to not allow duplicate versions to be seen (except bookmarking sites). I believe Google has some good treats for autoblogs in long term, preventing them to rank in SEO at all!

    1. Cindy,

      That’s the difference of where and how someone gets the content. If it’s a free-content-sharing site, fine but when they stepped over the border, it’s just wrong. Sigh.. maybe it’s wishful thinking but I really hope we can ‘live’ in a content-theft-free web someday.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

  6. Excellent post Ching. you know on P50, this problem has been an issue to many and dealing with the problem other than just ignoring seems to be right attitude in order to give examples to anyone who shamelessly copies content without even providing proper credit for it. Most of this autoblog sites are MFA (made for adsense) or just sites that lure people in so they can “make a sale”. Sadly, they are out there and most likely will not disappear. However, if all interested parties stand up and so something about it, I am convinced that at the very least it will diminish. At a minimum, care about yourself, right. This goes to my echo definitely and I hope you won’t mind if I amplify this and post an excerpt on our Allied Bloggers blog. Is that OK :)?
    .-= DiTesco´s last blog ..Ditesco’s Weekly Echo 25 =-.

    1. DiTesco,

      It’s definitely ok, and you have my permission for post excerpts on P50 site. It’s a community you’re building and had received us authors permissions to do so. 🙂

      I totally agree with you. Call it a dream but I really believe if we’re all against this and not turning a deaf ear (or blind eye), we can make a difference. Just few months ago I informed Kristi about her content been scrapped by another site, and definitely I’d love to have others informed me too if they have witnessed something like that. A small step from everyone is actually a huge step. 🙂

  7. Ching…I can understand your feelings. You are not the only one. It has happened to me too and I am sure it happens to many of us. Content Theft is very common these days. Simply writing and publishing doesn’t safeguard your content. If you are really serious about your work then you must do every bit from your side to protect it. There are many services which allow you to check for the content theft like Copyscape and very recently I found two more useful services to keep a check on the same. These are – http://www.tynt.com/ and http://www.embedanything.com/ I have tried out both these services and it has certainly helped me a lot. btw, I very much agree to you. People should forbid stealing others work. It is very unethical practice and has nothing to offer in the end except distrust and humiliation.
    .-= Aswani´s last blog ..Interesting Management Case Studies =-.

    1. Aswani,

      Thank you for providing the links I’ll definitely check them out. Indeed, it’s an on-going effort and I hope everyone will safeguard their content, or at least do something so to prove that it’s ‘not okay’ to steal. Thanks for visiting and I appreciate your support.

  8. Hi Ching Ya!
    ( 1) Regarding your post about facebook being scraped, who would know about this besides you? I’ll tell you: no one! And if that scraper blog is a blogspot blog, you can complain until the cows come home and that blog will still be there, yet if you might be an honest blogger, they’ll delete YOUR blog in a heartbeat! (This happened recently to a blogger I know) Where is the justice?

    ( 2) Whenever I use content from somebody else I either link back to the original post or add a credit, source or footnote to the post.

    ( 3) That “Link Love” actually encourages this kind of bad blog behaviour. There are several Malaysian bloggers who steal posts all the time, just to get the link love (and blogspot never deletes their blogs either!)

    ( 4) That GOOGLE SEARCH SPAM REPORT has been used AGAINST bloggers! One of my posts was forcibly deleted after somebody in Malaysia copied a paragraph of content from their blog, pasted it into the “comments” on my blog. then submitted the URL to the post to Google and THEY REMOVED MY SEARCH RESULTS and because Google owns Blogspot, DELETED my post! They also sent me a “warning” letter! WTF!

    PS::: I am using Firefox via WinXp on a high speed connection… you rblog kept hanging up with “unresponsive script” errors, and it took me 5 MINUTES to finally get to where I could type this comment in!

    1. Hi Dave, thank you for visiting and I’m sorry the site has kept you from commenting smoothly. Will contact my developer to have this checked, some issues with the plugins lately, consider to do a renovation soon. Thanks for the heads up.

      I’m sorry you have experienced content theft too. Sigh.. it’s really alarming and how serious the cases have becoming! As a Malaysian and have known some well behaved Malaysian bloggers myself, I hope your past experience won’t prevent you from visiting our sites again. 🙂

      I appreciate your visit, thanks again.

  9. I’d prepare two more contact emails to the receiving blogger.

    1st a nicety; perhaps they got distracted from the situation and forgot. Ask one more time for a final decision on what they will do.

    2nd, if they do not respond or respond negatively, explain how you have no choice now but to report both too their respective hosts.

    Anyone who knows anything knows this is bad. All reputable hosts will shut the blog down altogether. 😉
    .-= Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog ..Last Post and Current To-Do List =-.

    1. Hi Dennis, thank you for the suggestion. 🙂 In fact, I just sent in another email yesterday to the page admin for final notice, nothing. Sigh, guess we just have to do it another way. It’s sad to see people don’t take our requests seriously.

      Let it be no more content theft for everyone ever again, wishful thinking? Maybe, but can’t stop the girl from hoping so. 😉

  10. Actually Ching Ya, I’ve been scrapped a number of times. Every time I’ve contacted the site first, and most of the time they take it off. A few times I had to kick it up to the host, and only once did I not get satisfaction, and I pretty much just let that one go.

    Not sure if you’ve seen it, but I now have a copyright message on each of my posts to prove they’re mine.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Social Media And SEO =-.

    1. Mitch,

      I used to have that sentence listed on every post, then I put it at the page footer, maybe that’s invisible to them. Also the plugin for inserting copyright in feedburner, guess it’s inevitable. Now really consider as what you’ve suggested. Thanks so much for sharing, Mitch. Great to see you here again. 🙂

    1. Kristi, thank you for the link love and your visit is always appreciated here.

      Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t understand how can someone so called a designer can re-publish someone else’s posts without even bother about copyright infringement? It makes me wonder how ‘original’ his idea can be, there’s just no excuse to re-use someone else’s article just for the sake of saving time for publicity.

      May this be a lesson for all of us.

  11. “If you’re a new blogger, avoid automated blogging at all costs.”

    I disagree completely. Auto-blogging can reveal quite a bit to a new blogger, but I assume that you are assuming that the blogger only has one blog. The real problem here is that every blog (for the most part) offers RSS. I won’t get into the debate about full content or partial content feeds, but by offering RSS you are asking for the regurgitation of your content, plain and simple. So I assume your article is focused towards those that visit a site and physically copy the content, and not those that take an RSS feed and redisplay it on another site. Because, that’s perfectly legal.

    Good stuff, although it’s impossible to ever stop this type of stuff from happening. Once the Orwellian society exists, then it will be possible.

    Do we really want that?
    .-= Wayne John @ someones birthing canal´s last blog ..David Gilmour to play one show during the Roger Waters 2010 The Wall tour =-.

    1. Hi Wayne, welcome and thanks for visiting.

      Regarding the auto-blogs, I am referring to those that copy/paste the entire content and claim the articles to be their own; a few even replied to commenters, thanking them for liking ‘their’ posts – this I really cannot tolerate.

      Yes, we cannot control but hoping by this little piece of experience, let’s raise the awareness of taking care of our content better. Everyone may react differently to the situation, but for this particular case about sending it as a guest post, harming other sites — I hope no such case will ever happen to any of the bloggers outthere; even so, we’ll know what to do. 🙂

      Thanks again for your comment, do visit again.

      1. You’re right, knowledge is power. Just wanted to make sure that people understand that there is a time and place for this type of activity, and it does help one learn more about how blogs work, how google works etc…it’s an important part of growing as a web developer and blogger imo.

  12. Hi Ching Ya! Thanks for showing me about how to detect the content theft. I do not know whether my blog content is being stolen or not before this. For me, blogging is an exciting activity. If we just use the auto-blogging tool with the purpose to make money with it, this will ruin the fun of blogging.
    .-= Kok Siong @ Cancer Research´s last blog ..Bone Formation =-.

    1. Kok Siong,

      You’re right. There are various reasons why we blog, my hope is that new bloggers won’t get tempted to step in auto-blogging just because it’s ‘fast’ and ‘easy’. If he/she would embark in a blogger’s journey, may passion and interest can guide him/her to do the right thing – be his/her ownself, and content as well.

      Thanks so much for visiting. 🙂

    1. Envoy, thanks for the suggestion, I’ll try to give this service a look too. Did you personally try it? How well it works?

    1. Welcome, Are. May this little experience will inspire others to protect their branding and content more. Appreciate your visit and your take on the subject at the facebook discussion.

      Thanks so much!

  13. Wow. That is serious. Wish you good luck in this case. Reading from your post, you really sound frustrated. But you really help me on how to make sure this thing not happening to my blog.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Zezebel, welcome and thank you so much for dropping by.

      lol.. it’s alright. I got over it by the time I finished writing this article. It feels better to let it out while able to provide value to others too, especially bringing awareness about how far a scrapper could go. This is certainly the first time ever I found out someone used my content as a guest post, so a little surprising too.

      Anyhow, good that the problem has resolved with the site admin removing the content (after a warning from Google rather than my polite request of email, hmm..). Thanks to the experience, I get to blog about it and have a great discussion here and at Facebook page. 🙂 Every cloud has a silver lining, I guess.

    1. Thanks Mani and appreciate your take in the fan page discussion, thanks for joining. Appreciate your visit.

  14. Wow I didn’t know that now we could become victims of online content theft! I hope that this hasn’t happened to me yet but there’s really no way I’d know because I wasn’t aware of this. I will be checking this out. That is totally not acceptable. Glad you took action and contacted them.

    1. Thanks Mandy and welcome! I’m glad you’re able to learn something out of this post and I hope you’ll never have to deal with any situations like this at all. 🙂 Wish you best and do visit again.

  15. There are a couple of things you can actually do when you know that you are being scraped. The first is to make sure your feed shows summaries instead of entire pages. Most scrapers are republishing feeds.

    The other thing you can do is to start putting a sentence or two at the beginning of each post that has a link back to your own web page. If you get scraped, you could have the link scraped as well. Then they will be a backlink generating machine for your website.

    It is better to use this to your advantage until they want to stop subscribing to your feed because of it.

    1. Thanks for all the suggestions, Kathy. 🙂 I’m relief all bloggers are sharing their opinions in this subject. This is a good sign that bloggers do care and aware of such activities going on in the net.

      Appreciate your input.

  16. I have used Copyscape sparingly & am not sure just what my Copyscape results indicate. I suscribe to vv spinnable article program and am starting to unspin “”unique”” articles.
    Today I unspun an article, copied & pasted into Copyscape text search.

    The Copyscape review says 90 duplicate words were found (out of 536) & I had an aggscore:10.4

    Can anyone with Copyscape experience fill me in on how to tell what is an excellant, good or poor result?
    How do I determine if the article is good enough to use?
    Is an aggscore 10.4 good, bad?

  17. Great post. I am having somewhat of the same problem. Some Person has copied one of my blog posts. What i did was write him to ether take it down or at least put a link in the article to my blog post. He placed a link.

  18. Excellent advice – our website has been near completely stolen by two other sites in recent months. They had taken all of the graphics and content. Our first port of call was Google as we didn’t want the duplication to cause issues with our excellent search engine positions…

  19. I know the intention of this article. I hope that issue was solved.

    I used Copyscape and other Google search tips to find whether the article is genuine or not.

    Nice tips Ching ya! 😉

    1. Thanks Pradeep, yes thankfully, Google has taken care of it since it’s involving Adsense Publisher. I’m happy with the result so now all is good. Appreciate your comment and visit. 🙂

  20. Ching,

    Thanks for the tips on how to detect duplicate content, I wasn’t aware of Copyscape. You also showcase a perfect example of how duplication can affect your ranking, it’s ironic how they came up on top… I just posted an article on aggregation vs. content hijacking on my blog, would love your opinion whenever you have a minute.

    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Francisco, pleasure to have your visit here. Yes, I will head over for a browser certainly. I’m glad a little incident will inspire others to look into this matter more seriously. 🙂

      Thanks so much and see you again soon.

  21. Sorry to hear this happen to you. If you may or may not recall about some of my articles were ripped off by a PLR shop and sold as PLR articles.

  22. Plagiarism has really become a headache nowadays and on top of that the growth of auto blog has certainly added more to the head ache. The bad part of your story seems that the content thief sent the content as a guest post to some other site, I think the site owner must be very worried about this. I think it is the duty of every multi blog owner to check the content for plagiarism before publishing it in his/her blog. You have some mentioned some good links like the DCMA links. I was really in search of those. Those can tend to be very helpful in situation like this

  23. Thanks for the tips ching, the google spam report tool will come in handy in case some one messes up with one of my posts.

    One thing that happened to me last year ( or maybe even now ) is image theft. No matter what you do , people can steal your images and post them in their own blog / sites / portfolios , only way to avoid this is putting an ugly watermark on your images , or if a good samaritan tells you your images have been ripped.

  24. I usually start from basic:
    Use few plugins like Watermark reloaded, RSS footer that helps a lot..
    Apart from that if someone is being shameless..First I ask them to remove the content within 48 hours.. If admin don’t respond..I usually report it to hosting and most of the time it worked for me….

  25. I’ve been on the other side of this before. When my site was in its early stages, I had a staff writer who wrote very good content and never missed a deadline.

    One week she submitted a ver batim copy of a CNN article from the previous day (not a headline article, but one that is in a niche that I follow). I very quickly spot-checked other articles of hers (by doing a copy/paste of a few sentences into Google).

    Yeah, they all found identical content on other sites – a wide variety of sites (many of which seemed to be small, single-person sites).

    Needless to say, the articles were purged from the site minutes later and I notified the “writer” that she was no longer welcome on the staff.

    The funny thing is that she feigned ignorance and accused me of being a homophobe (the article touched on the treatment of a homosexual man several decades ago, but obviously this was not the reason for my negative reaction to the article submission).

    Responsible site owners definitely don’t want plagiarized content on their site.

  26. How is auto-blogging EVER a good thing, or to be encouraged? It seems to dilute the quality of content on the internet in a big way. One of the earlier comments, probably Ching Ya herself, said something along those lines, about content dilution.

    This is just one aspect of plagiarism in general. We’ve got some ethical questioning of whether it is right or wrong in our society right now, so until that gets resolved, I think it will remain a problem. E.g. see New York Times OpEd from early August 2010 about why plagiarism is NOT immoral versus opposing view from Democrat Charles Schumer Congressman endorsing copyright protection for fashion designers.

    In the meantime, Copyscape is an excellent suggestion. There are also several anti-plagiarism tools out there, one of which is Grammerly.com.

    Thank you, Ching Ya, for your informative article.

  27. I just had my first experience with this. I was checking a problem with my feed in Google reader and noticed that there is a site that has a feed showing jumbled up content from various posts from my site. I’m not sure what benefit they’d get from this as it doesn’t even make sense the way they’ve put it together, and it appears to be a travel site. None of my content is about travelling. Go figure!!

    Thanks for the tips for dealing with this subject- I’ll be testing them out shortly.

  28. It’s sad that these mentalities are found. I recentlty discovered someone who was building his own famous over the foundation of my articles by copying them ‘as is’ with few minor changes by placing his name. He was even copying my pages, so I dropped him a line by commenting and waited 48 hours before taking other actions.

    Now he felt scared and deleted the content from his site but I am following to see other places!

  29. Ugh!!! I hate that, Stealing content is just wrong.

    If I take anyone’s content ever it always has back links to the source. I never steal stuff and call it my own. Unless I bought the private label rights to have that right.

    What also ticks me off is when people steal my aweber feed and auto-post my emails on their blog. I found 17 people doing that to me.

    Total lack or respect and I feel it is an invasion of privacy.

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