What to Do if Your Site Has Been Splogged How I Got My Content Removed

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How I Found Out This Blog Was Splogged
About a week ago I was researching the average last frost date here in Minneapolis on Google, and my article I wrote last spring came up.  What was weird was I saw two listings for the same article I had written, one was this site and another site, so I clicked on it only to see it copied word for word with all my images and all the links stripped, with no credit given at all.  There was no about page, contact email, or any navigation.  There was however related links posted after the article, all of which were the exact same titles of articles I have written and published on this site.  The more I tried to dig into the site, the more of my articles I found of mine along with other garden bloggers.  As far as I can tell I had around a hundred of my articles stolen.  Some were even copied 3 or 4 times, due to me changing the title. It even copied my own comments and the readers of this blogs comments on some pages!  I guess to make it look more legit maybe. 
What is a Splog?
A splog is a fake website created by stealing content from many blogs.  Spam + Blog = Splog.  Professional sploggers create multiply sites that steal content of blogs via software (usually RSS feeds) and make money by the traffic created from the stolen work from ads on the site (usually Google Ads).

How Can You Find Out If You Blog Has Been Splogged?
  • You can search on Google under your post title and see if there is any other site than yours that comes up.  If you have a longer title use 3/4 of your title to search and choose less generic terms or phrases.  For example for this post I would search "What to Do if Your Site Has Been Splogged How I Got"  the first part of the title "What to Do If Your Site Has Been Splogged" lis a generic title but the "How I Got" added to it is less generic and more likely to show up.  Why not use the whole title?  While trying to find what articles of mine were copied I used this method to find the urls to report to Google and my splogger, since he took down his sitemap and his splog had no navigation.  I was looking sometimes for articles that I had seen on this splog that were mine and tried to use the whole title with the name of the splog, only it didn't show up.  But when I used 3/4 of the title keeping it unique as possible with the name f the splog it would then show up.
  • You can look up individual url's on copyscape. I tried this on individual urls from my site that I knew had been copied.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  So I think this can be a good tool, but it doesn't mean if nothing shows up that you are fine. A word of caution, I found a site called copygator which seems similar to copyscape but actually monitors your site for you, sounds great right?  I submited my RSS feed only to find it not work.  After I found an article saying it's actually a content farm and Blekko banned it, hmm....  hopefully that's not the case.
What Can You Do if Your Content Has Been Stolen?
  1. Find Out Who Owns The Splog.  I did this by searching under a who is doman search, I used Domain Tools. If your splog is not hosted on a blogging site like mine is on blogger,  you can obtain a lot of information on your splogger.  Mine was registered under an .org so I was able to find his name, email, phone number, home address, IP address, server, company that the domain was registered under, and creation date of the site.   
  2. If You are Providing Full RSS feeds Change It To Partial Posts and add a Copyright Under Each Posts.  Chances are your splogger is using software that is stealing or scrapping your content from your RSS feeds.  I know this is what happened with this blog because my splogger told me this was how he was obtaining my posts.  If you are using blogger like me it is soooo.... easy to do this.  Go to settings, then other, and it will have the heading Site Feeds.  Under allow blog feed change it to until jump break, and then under post feed footer insert what you want on the bottom of each posts.  Mine is, ©2010-2012 A Minneapolis Homestead All rights reserved. Photos and content cannot be reproduced with the url of this site.  Now all you have to do is make sure to put a jump break in each posts where you want it to stop and say read more with a link to the full article.  If you take these easy steps that take less than 5 min, it should at least stop them from scrapping your future content and others. 
  3.  Send you splogger via email a Cease and Desist Letter. I set up a new email account just to do this.  I didn't like the idea of sending a spammer my email.  Here is the form letter I used to send in English and Turkish (thank you google translate!) :

    This is to advise you that you are using copyrighted and protected material on your website. Your illegal use of XXXX article at XXXURLXXX is originally from my website/blog called XXTITLEXXX at XXXURLXXX. This is original content and I am the author and copyright holder. Use of copyright protected material without permission is illegal under copyright laws.
    Please take one or more of the following actions immediately:
    ·         Re-write the post to include excerpts with a link to the original content.
    ·         Remove the plagiarized material immediately.
    I expect a response within 5 days to this issue. Thank you for your immediate action on this matter.

     Sincerely,
     A Minneapolis Homestead Administrator

     Here is his response (he wrote back within a day), notice he doesn't even apologize:

    Hi,
    My web site includes some rss feeds. Your site has got a rss address so i take your some posts, but after your mail , i closed your rss adress so i dont publish your posts.
    if you give me your posts link in my site, I will remove all of them...
    thank you.

  4.  File a DMCA complaint.  You can do this with all major search engines, and Google Ads (if the splog uses it) I did through Google, with about 20 links that were duplicated (of like a 100) through Google Ads (since he was using Google Ads on his site).  I got an auto response from Google and a week later I have not heard anything from them.  I do not know if they perhaps contacted my splogger and he was being given time to take down the content or if Google simply wasn't handling the problem.  If that is the case, that's pretty sad because it should be pretty obvious that the site was a splog and had copied almost my entire blog, and both Google and my splogger we're making money off of my work.   
  5.  Block Your Splogger's IP Address With Htaccess: If your splogger is complying, like mine did I would keep working with them until your content is removed. In my case this was an annoying process, but sadly probably the easiest most effective way.  But if your DMCA complaint hasn't worked, nor contacting your new found friend, you do have some options still.  I don't know much about this since I haven't done it myself, but it looks like you can block an IP address from your site.  Another option is  instead of blocking requests from the scraper, you can delivers some “dummy” content of your choosing.  Maybe you could send them an image about copy right, or you could send them right back to their own server in an infinity loop and crash their website. 
This is what I believe to be the best ways to immediately put the breaks in your content being scrapped and to have your content that's been scrapped removed as quickly as possible.    My splogger has taken this site off of his system so that it no longer republish everything I publish (I've checked and so far so good).  And upon my splogger's request, as annoying as it was, I compiled a list of all the urls I could find on his site that he had my content.  How nice of him to make me do all the legwork after he disabled his site map huh?  The sad thing is, I was worried that if I did not send the url's he could say to Google that he was trying to work with me and I wasn't trying to work with him.  So I spent a lot of time searching on Google for my content on his site. I can not say that I found it all, therefore I made it clear in the response to his first email to me that I still held him accountable to removing my content whether or not I gave him the url for it.  My response to him was as follows:

I have compiled as many urls on your site that has my copyrighted material to the best of my ability, (even though I shouldn’t have to).  The urls I have found are posted at the bottom of this notice.  This was incredibly difficult for me to do and time consuming since you have disabled your sitemap.  Therefore, this is by no means a full list of urls of articles you have stolen.  I therefore expect for you to take down ALL of my content, whether or not I have provided you with the url to the page.  Since the titles are word for word the same this should not be difficult to do, ( my site is http://theurbanhomestaed.blogspot.com).  I demand that you immediately:
1.    remove all aforesaid infringing material from your Website(s), and notify me in writing that you have done so;
2    undertake in writing to desist from using any of my copyrighted work in future without prior written authority from me.
I await to hear from you by no later than close of business on February 17, 2012 failing which equivalent letters will be sent to:
* Your Web Host
* Your Domain Registrar
* Legal Support at Google and other Search Engines.

This is written without prejudice to my rights, all of which are hereby fully and expressly reserved.

Thank you for your immediate action on this matter.,
A Minneapolis Homestead Administrator

His response came in about a day as follows:

Hi,
I tried to remove all of them.
Please let you check and inform me.
Thank you.

I tested a few random ones and it seems like they are gone.  So now that I have my content removed and no longer being published,  I plan to learn more about protecting my content to begin with.  My next post will go into more depth in this matter, and then I plan to get back to my normal posts.  I also plan to track down other fellow bloggers who's content he has stolen and notify them of this and how to rectify the situation.  I like to research and I would say it's one of my strong points.  I did a lot of research into this guy, who is surprisingly out their in the online world, you'd think you'd keep a low profile right? I even know what the guy looks like, his age, job, etc.  All I really cared to learn though was whether or not he had any other splogs.  Why did I care?  Well I was trying to determine whether using my time to notify other bloggers would even hurt his operation.  I mean if you have 50 splogs and one is shut down or you have a few less feeds to one, does it even impact you?  I found four sites that he owns, he has two splogs, one site about lyrics to Turkish songs (can't tell if that's a splog or not), and one that appears to be a site he actually runs.  So guess what I'm doing with some of my spare time? 

Don’t forget to “likeus on Facebook.  Let’s be friends on Pinterest and we can follow each other on Twitter and Google Plus.  And check out my other blog OhYou Crafty Gal.  

©Minneapolis Homestead www.theurbanhomestaed.blogspot.com All rights reserved. Photos and content cannot be reproduced



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How to Copyright and Protect Your Blog On Blogger

Comments

  1. I had never heard of this until you posted about it the other day. I did a search and found the splog you were talking about...scary! Who would've thought?

    Anyway this is very helpful and I'll be looking for your tips on protecting our stuff.

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    1. I never had heard of this either, until I started looking into my content being stolen. They say that it's not if your content will be stolen, but when. So I think this is something all of us bloggers need to learn about. As annoying as this has been, I am at least learning new skills that it seems I should know any ways and hopefully my fellow readers that are bloggers like your self can learn alongside of me. I'm glad this was helpful to you Ma.

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  2. Thank you so much for the information! It is amazing you had to go through all of that. How frustrating!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the empathy Michelle!

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  3. Wow Julie, you go girl!! That is awesome. I need to take more time to look at this again. I've been sick so that put a damper on my plans. Hopefully I'll get time soon. I love the letters you wrote to the guy!

    Amy

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    Replies
    1. I hope you feel better Amy! Make sure your getting enough vitamin d, zinc, and vitamin c, eat lots of mushrooms (they're low cal packed full of nutrients and especially immune boosting nutrients), and drink lots of green tea. And get lots of sleep. It really helps I use to waitress and once I pulled a double when I was almost over a cold, and I got sooo... sick.

      Thank's for appreciating my letter's, I used legal form letters I thought it would be best to be as professional and legal sounding as possible. Nothing scarier than a legal sounding document....I also sent the first letter in Turkish and English as a subtle way of saying I know who you are, and that way he also couldn't say he didn't understand my email. Get better soon Amy!

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  4. Awe, thanks Julie! Funny, you're the second person to tell me to drink lots of tea. I have been trying to drink it more often and have even collected some herbs from my garden for tea. I never heard of the mushrooms though, I love mushrooms!

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