Still scraping

I had thought that scraper sites were a thing of the past but apparently not.

Just to remind you, scraper sites (or simply “scrapers”) are Web sites, usually but not always in the form of blogs, which, for content, use material illegally ripped off from other people’s blogs. They reap a small reward in the form of click-through advertising.

Because their margins are so small and they therefore run lots of sites, these are set up to operate more or less automatically, using “bots” which rip off content and post it on the scraper sites. The point remains, however, that this is a clear breach of copyright. Let’s not mince our words: these parasites are thieves.

I subscribe to a neat service called Fairshare which receives my posts by RSS and searches the Web for copies. If it finds any, it sends me a report. It is then up to me whether I wish to proceed against the copyright thief. I have done this a few times and succeeded in having the material removed, but it can be a hassle. In the worst case, it could go all the way to court, something which most of us cannot afford.

Scrapers often try to disguise their theft by altering the stolen text, for example, by replacing words with synonyms, giving a somewhat strange result. Some puny attempts have be made to do so in this case, but they did not fool the Fairshare scanners. The HTML did not display correctly either, so there are some infelicities in the format. Despite this, though, it is clearly my article, complete with pictures.

I will be frank and say that I am not going to take any action in this case. There are two reasons for this. The first is the difficulty of proceeding against the scraper: it takes time, effort and patience and is not always rewarded with success.

The second is that I have scored a small moral victory. As you know, I now put a copyright mark on my photos and a copyright statement at the end of the article (see below). On this occasion, these have been preserved in the plagiarized copy which therefore declares itself to have been stolen and contains a link back to my blog. Small consolation, perhaps, but some consolation nonetheless.

Should I also feel pleased that someone thinks my work worth stealing? Isn’t this a sort of back-handed compliment? No, I don’t think so. As I said, scrapers operate more or less automatically, using key-words to choose their material. The bot has no appreciation of the quality of the product it is stealing.

I am not going to tell you what the thieving site is because if I add a link to it, this will increase the site’s ranking in search engines. So will clicking on it. You will just have to take my word for it that the story is true.

In the meantime, if you are a blogger yourself, you may like to think about subscribing to one of the free checking services to see who is ripping you off. Or you can do so manually by means of carefully crafted searches on the search engines. On the other hand, perhaps not. Unless you intend to proceed against the thieves, finding out that you are being ripped off can be annoying and frustrating, if illuminating. The choice is yours.

Now, let’s see whether they are daft enough to steal this article…

Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to Still scraping

  1. AEJ says:

    Good for you that you started adding your copyright info! That’s too funny that they stole that alone with everything else. Of course, if they want the photos, that’s the price they pay. Catz has this same problem, with people stealing her content and putting it elsewhere. This is yet another reason why I love my password-protected blog.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Scrapers are so hungry for material that they will steal practically any material and few bloggers escape being plagiarized at some point, though many are unaware of the fact.

      Some people don’t mind and even encourage others to share their stuff around. I just think it wrong for people to take your work without asking and without acknowledgement as if they think they can use anything they find.

      I would like to see the copyright laws tidied up to make it much easier for authors to claim their rights and squash the copyright thieves.

  2. WOL says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t know about scraper sites — although it does not surprise me that stuff like that goes on. That’s a good thought about the copyright notice at the bottom of the post. I think I’ll do it, too. I’ll not bother about copyrighting any of the photos at the moment, though, as the POC camera I have takes nowhere near the quality of photos yours does. It does what I bought it for — takes pix of the kitties, the house, yard, and people to share with the relatives who don’t live here, but it is severely limited in its capabilities. If and when I get a decent camera and start taking better quality photos, then I’ll copyright them. Of course, your subject matter is a good deal more “steal-worthy” than mine. Who’d want to steal pix of Inutterable Boonies, TX?

    • SilverTiger says:

      Scraper sites were rampant in the recent past and then seemed to fade out as their owners found that the technique didn’t really work. Maybe a second generation is having another go or this is just an odd one.

      There are a lot of sites that work on the basis of rapidly updating their content and they will take anything that is connected prose as long as it conforms to the particular subject or keywords they are using. Anyone who writes more or less grammatically is likely to be plagiarized at some point.

      My consideration in buying a camera was that it had to be small (to make it easy to carry everywhere), competent, and have an eye-level viewfinder: you simply cannot take good steady photographs holding a camera on extended arms while squinting at a preview screen. Finding a camera to meet such narrow criteria naturally means making compromises. In my case, the camera is bigger than I would prefer.

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