I was under the mistaken impression that “blog scraping” (the technique of building a blog by copying other people’s content) had ceased. Apparently, I was wrong. Instead it seems to have acquired a new face.
I discovered this by chance this afternoon when I decided to do a Google search on my WordPress domain name, tigergrowl. The results of the search were interesting.
I discovered first of all that my blog figured in blog directories that I had never signed up to, some of them in countries speaking a language other than English. That doesn’t matter, I suppose, as they generally don’t quote me at length and they link back to my blog.
Less happily, I discovered a new form of “scraping”. In this, an entire post is ripped off and posted on a blog under someone else’s name, photos and all. That’s not all, however. The text seems to have been passed through some sort of filter which replaces some words by their synonyms. I assume this is intended to make the text less immediately recognizable. The result looks like something that has come out of the Google translator or was originally penned by Professor Stanley Unwin.
I discovered this because whoever posts the material, perhaps a machine, came unstuck. Perhaps my HTML was faulty or the host gagged on it, but the post did not display correctly and the HTML was revealed. This included the URLs of the photos in which tigergrowl appeared and was picked up by the Google search.
This is not the only example. I have found others. So far, they have all been on Livejournal, to whom I have sent an email on the subject. I await their reply with interest. Is Livejournal knowingly hosting scrapers or have they failed to spot what is going on? If the latter, I hope they will now take action on the matter.
I like to think that the world of blogs is a friendly easygoing world and if people quote my blog that’s fine. Ask me nicely, and I might even allow you to copy a picture as long as you acknowledge the source. But ripping off my content and posting it and my pictures under another name is not fine. It is theft and breach of copyright.
On the bus home the other evening, Tigger noticed that a woman had her hand in my coat pocket. All she got was a snotty tissue but the principle is the same: a pickpocket is a pickpocket is a thief. In the same way, blog scrapers are thieves with their grubby hands in our virtual pockets. They deserve to be detected and revealed for what they are.
Over to you, Livejournal.
24 hours have passed and I have not heard back from LiveJournal. My support request in still listed as “open”, which I take to mean that nothing has been done about it.
In retrospect, technical support was perhaps not the best department to approach. I have now found a page for the reporting of “abuse” and will resubmit my complaint on that.