Last week I was browsing Technorati to see which blogs had recently linked to one of my own, when I saw something familiar: a copy of one of my articles on a different web site.
Sometimes it’s just a long quote, used either for another site’s commentary, or to link back, and I’ve no problem with this usage.
The main issue is with sites that scrape content and publish it on their own AdSense-riddled layouts in the hope of making some cash from other people’s work.
Though I abhor this type of site, I’ll often let them pass by because it’s not worth my time reporting them or searching around for a contact. If they’ve lifted an item of news I’ve written based on a press release, then I don’t feel quite so hard done by. The article in question, however, was a verbatim copy of an opinion piece I had spent a considerable amount of time working on. I felt aggrieved. The only reason any links pointed back to my site at all was because I had put internal links within the article itself.
Unusually, I found a contact form for the site (I won’t name and shame them here) and sent a polite but firm explanation stating that they had lifted several articles (I searched further) from my site – as well as from a number of others – and that I’d appreciate the content being removed.
I didn’t expect to get a reply, but today an email arrived which (paraphrased) said:
I didn’t copy and paste your content on my site. I just used your RSS feed from your site (and many other sites) and my script imported it to my site. Our blogger writes content about gadgets from all over the world, and you can find it in another section.
Anyway, I’m sorry if you don’t agree that I used your RSS, and I have two options to offer you.
1. I use your RSS feed in my site and at the end of it link to your site for the complete story. In this way you’ll get more visitors to your site.
2. I remove your RSS from my system.
Any way, I think if you choose option 1 I’ll send you more visitors and you can send me visitors.
So, what do we have here?
- Someone who believes (as I’m sure many others do) and blatantly acknowledges that it’s OK to do whatever they want with the contents of an RSS feed. The very fact that I chose to publish it gives them that right.
- Someone who thinks that, after I’ve discovered their splog, I might still consider “option 1” and link back to their site.
Would it have been a big deal to link and be linked? Well, quite apart from my own ‘ethical’ viewpoint, I don’t really want to test out Google’s ‘bad neighbourhood’ penalty, duplicate content penalty, nor any other problems that might arise from being associated with dubious sites.
The dilemma is how much time, in a busy blogging schedule, to spend on tracking down and attempting to eradicate these parasites.