Back in November, Attributor released a study that many Webmasters and content providers intrigued. According the report, for many Websites, most of the viewings of their content do not happen on their page or their RSS feed, but on other sites.
Earlier this month, the same company announced the public beta of its new product, FairShare, a free service designed to help help bloggers track their’s content’s usage, check for license compliance and understand who is using their works and how.
Though the service has some limitations, it can be a valuable tool for bloggers to get a glimpse at how their content is used on the Web and where some of their untracked readers may be hiding.
Attributor is a professional content-tracking and management company that works with a variety of major content creators including CondeNet and The Financial Times. They run their own search engine, which has over 35 billion sites indexed, and provide results in 13 different languages.
Their full service provides advanced content tracking, with sorting and in-depth analysis, and tools for resolving cases of copyright infringement. With FairShare, they’ve taken the same service, removed some of the advanced features and repackaged it as a free service for smaller Web publishers.
To use FairShare, one simply gives the site their RSS feed’s address, selects a license for their content, either a Creative Commons License or an all rights reserved one, and then subscribes to the RSS feed that the service produces.
Within about eight hours, FairShare will start scanning the existing contents of the RSS feed and finding matches for them. Once that happens, the FairShare feed will start posting “entries” for each match. Each FairShare match will contain information on the number of words matched, the percent of the original source used, whether the match site links to the source, whether the match displays ads and whether it is compliant with your CC license (if applicable).
The drawback is that the feed is pretty much a “raw list” of matches at this time. Though there are plans to introduce new feeds to the system that will allow users to focus in on certain match types, there is not much way currently to sort or filter the results at this time (other than selecting a weekly summary feed).
Also, there are no tools for dealing with any infringements detected. Users have the responsibility to choose what action they want to take and how to take it. The system is purely focused on providing information.
However, the information can be very valuable and, even if bloggers don’t want to stop any uses of their work, knowing where and how it appears can be a huge asset.
For bloggers, the potential benefits of free, effective and effortless content tracking can be many, but most will be interested in one of the following three things:
- Detecting Copyright Infringement: The most basic use of the service is to locate people who are misusing your content and then finding a way to stop it.
- Content Optimization: Seeing which of your entries are copied the most and where they appear can help bloggers plan future works. It also provides clues as to sites that might be good for outreach and linking building, especially with unlinked uses of content.
- Conversation Participation: Finding out where else your work appears gives you a chance to see what others are saying about it and engage in conversation with those people. Giving you a chance to interact with others who’ve read your work and, perhaps, direct them back to your site.
Obviously the uses are not mutually exclusive, for example one might want to stop spam bloggers while engaging with other, more human, webmasters. However, the service can have sharp benefit for bloggers, whether or not they have an interest in stopping any use of their work.
As mentioned above, the service does have a few drawbacks, namely that it doesn’t provide any help sorting or prioritizing cases nor does it provide any assistance with resolution.
It is also worth noting that, right now, the service can be a bit overwhelming for very active sites, producing hundreds of matches per day. It can certainly create a very busy RSS feed if your content is used in a lot of different places.
Finally, the service, right now, is only for sites with full RSS feeds. If your blog or Web site does not provide an RSS feed, it is not available at all and, if you use a partial feed, your matches will likely be a bit weaker. However you can use FeedBurner to create a full feed for FeedShare, and other services that need it, and a separate, partial one for your readers.
Despite these drawbacks, there is little reason to not try the service. It is free and stopping it is as simple as unsubscribing from the FairShare feed.
If you’re a blogger and you’ve ever been curious about how your content is being used on other sites, this is a good opportunity to find out. If you need an invite code you can either use the one provided to my readers “PlagiarismToday”, of which a limited number remain, or follow FairShare on Twitter. They may be able to provide you with one as well.
If you find yourself wanting more assistance than what FairShare can provide, including human analysis of potential matches and assistance with resolution, you can also sign up for bLoigics copyright protection service. Also, very large bloggers and blogging networks may wish to consider Attributor’s main service, especially if they want more direct control over how their content is used.
In either case, the FairShare system is probably not powerful enough by itself to provide all of the needed tools.
In the end though, whether you are seriously interested in stopping content theft or merely curious in how your content is being used, FairShare is a worthwhile service to try out.
Though it may not fulfill every need a blogger has, it is a great start and can help provide the information that most would not otherwise have.
Disclosure: I have consulted for Attributor and was an early tester of the FairShare system.