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Seven Steps That Can Combat Content Thieves

Today’s podcast was inspired by a question from Grant. He asks:“I just discovered another blog is republishing my content in full on their site. They seem to be scraping every post using my RSS feed. Can I stop them and is it worth my time to do that?”


Is it worth your time to do anything? In the past, I would try to chase down sites that stole my content to avoid duplicate content penalties, but Google has gotten better about knowing who the original author is.

Now, I just do a couple of things to identify that the content is mine when it is being scraped.

  • I include links to other posts in my blog
  • I include a link back to my blog in the footer of my RSS feed

When the content thieves strip out my links and don’t acknowledge the source, I still go after them and try to get the content taken down. Below are seven steps that can be taken to combat content thieves.

In Today’s Episode What To Do When Someone Steals Your Content

  • Contact the site concerned – First step, contact the webmaster and explain they are in breach of copyright and ask them to remove the content immediately.
  • Whois – Run a Whois check and find out the name of the person the site is registered to, their email, their registrar, and the name of their host.
  • Contact the site’s host – If you don’t hear back from the webmaster concerned, you can contact the host and issue a DMCA takedown notice.
  • Contact the site’s advertisers – If they still won’t cooperate, you can hit them where it counts and contact the advertisers on their site. Losing revenue will get their attention.
  • Shame the suckers! – If all else fails, and they are especially egregious. Name and shame is an effective way to deal with them. Highlighting their activities is the first step in getting the site removed.
  • File to get them banned from Google and other search engines – Getting banned from search engines will get their attention. File a notice of infringement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with Google.
  • Legal Action – This is the last and most difficult course of action, but it is an option that is always open. Simple Whois information should be enough to begin the process.

Usually, a polite notice and conversation with the offending blogger or webmaster is enough to get the content taken down, but if they don’t respond the above tactics can be applied.

Further Resources on What to Do When Someone Steals Your Blog Content

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Let us know if you have ever encountered this problem and what you thought of today’s show.

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Hi there, and welcome to Episode 108 of the ProBlogger podcast, where today I want to talk about what to do when someone steals your content. Not a very nice thing to happen; it does happen a lot though. I want to suggest a strategy that you can use when someone does use your content in a way that you’re not happy with, that you want them to stop doing, and you want to take that content down. I also want to address the question of whether it’s worth tracking down people stealing your content. My answer might surprise you a little bit.

Today’s show notes can be found over at, where you’ll find some resources and tools that we recommend you do check out on this particular topic. You’ll also find information about a new little resource that we’ve created over a ProBlogger where we’re willing to give you six months of blog post ideas for free. All you have to do is sign up for the ProBlogger PLUS newsletter and we will send you, over the next six months, 180 blog post ideas, 30 per month. They’re just little prompts to get you going, to get the ideas flowing for you for those of you who do fine coming up with ideas to write about a little bit tough. You can find those prompts on where to sign up over at

Grant emailed me this question just today actually. He writes, “I just discovered another blog is republishing my content in full on their site. They seem to be scraping every post using my RSS feed. Can I stop them and is it worth my time to do that? Looking forward to your answer, Grant.” This is a great question. One I get a fair bit and one I suspect that different bloggers take different approaches, too.

Now, let’s take the second part of that question first, “Is it worth your time to do anything about this?” My answer may surprise you because with one exception, I’ve all but given up chasing down sites that use my content on their blogs. The reality is there are just so many sites who are doing this these days that I could quite easily spend two or three hours a day trying to track down all of these sites and then trying to get them to stop.

Now, I used to try and combat it, I used to try and track them down, I used to try and find them all, and then try and get them to stop, but I ended up realizing that I’d rather spend my time in a more constructive way. Rather than stopping people from scraping my site, I think I’d rather spend my time creating more content that serves my readers.

Now, that’s just my approach to it, but I’d at least encourage you to consider it. The reason I used to try and stop it was that a few years ago, there was a feeling amongst many bloggers that Google could potentially penalize sites that had duplicate content. I used to worry that Google would look at my content, look at these other sites, not know who was the original, and that ended up penalizing us both. But what I’ve realized over the last few years is that Google seems to have gotten better at working out who the original first source of that content is and I’m not sure it’s such a big concern anymore.

I guess you do need to do some analysis, do some searches on Google for some keywords in your posts that are being scraped and see whether your site is ranking higher than theirs. That might be one of the times where you might want to do something about it. If the other site is outranking you for your own content, I probably would take action on that. But if you’re outranking them, if Google’s working out that you’re the original source of that content, then you probably don’t have as much to worry about in terms of duplicate content. You might find that it’s better to spend your time creating more content than having to get defensive.

There are a couple of things that I would encourage you to do to help you when your content is being scraped in this way. The first thing you can do is very easy. You probably should be doing this already is include as many links in your new content as you can to old posts on your site. In most cases, when someone is scraping your content from an RSS feed, they will republish everything that you have including your images, including any links in your content.

If you’re linking back to your own site in that content and talking about it in the first person saying things like, “Here’s a post I wrote last month that explores this,” then anyone who finds that content is going to go, “Hey, just a second, this isn’t the original source of this content,” and they’re going to end up on your site. Also, it may even help with your SEO a little to get those extra links coming in.

The other thing you can do is to use a tool like Yoast. We’ve talked about Yoast in the past. It’s a great SEO plug-in for your site. Yoast allows you to put a link back to your blog and to the original blog post in the footer of your RSS feed. If they are scraping your RSS feed—again, this is the most common way that people will rip your content—they will, in most cases, also publish that footer. That footer can say anything you like. You could say, “The original source of this article is…” and then link back to your post. Again, that tells Google that you are the original source of that content. That can help with some of that duplicate content issue and it might just give you a little bit of extra SEO juice as well.

I would encourage you to check out the Yoast WordPress plugin if you’re not already using it. You probably should be using already for other SEO benefits but just check out the footer feature of that plug-in as well, see that you’ve set it up right, and check your RSS feed to make sure that you are getting those links in your feed as well.

Before, I said that there’s an exception to when I will do something about people using my content and it’s when they use it without acknowledging the source and they strip out any identifying crediting features like the links in my feed, the RSS footer that I just talked about, any author credits. Some people go to that, they will republish your content, and say that it’s theirs. Sometimes, they even put their own name on it and they might change it a little bit, they might take a paragraph and introduce it a bit different, and then they use the rest of your content.

I have to say this hasn’t happened a lot to me, at least, to my knowledge but probably every year or every year-and-a-half, I do find someone who is doing this. Sometimes, they just do it with one post and sometimes, they do it with a whole heap of posts. I’ve come across a number of bloggers over the years who have taken up to 100, up to 200 of my posts from ProBlogger or Digital Photography School, they put their own names, they put their own images into it, and published it as their own. You see these huge large chunks of text in the middle of their articles which are just direct from your own content.

This really makes me mad. It gets me angry because I’ve put a lot of time into my content and the writers that I hire, (1) I pay them to write that content, and (2) they put a lot of time into it as well. It does make me angry and it is something that I try to hold that anger in and not responding too much of a public way, although there maybe is a time for that as well. I try and follow a bit of a process. I’ve written this process down to try and hold me to it because it’s very easy when you see this to just get on Twitter and go, “Look at this site, this is what they’re doing,” and then you think that maybe you could have done that a little bit differently. I’ve got a process in place and I try and follow through on this process.

The first thing I do is always try and contact the site concerned. The first protocol should always be to try and contact that blogger. Now, this can be hard. Sometimes, the bloggers who are doing this type of thing do not have any way of contacting them on their site, they don’t have a contact form, but you need to, if you can, explain to them as politely and as not angrily as you can that they are breaching copyright.

Now, I have to say there have been a couple of times where this has been done to me. It turns out that the other bloggers either have just no idea about copyright and they’re just doing it ignorantly. Sometimes I claim that and you can tell that maybe they’re not really as ignorant as they’re claiming, but there have been a couple of times where it’s been teenagers and they just, obviously, don’t understand it. I want to try and give them as much benefit of the doubt as I can.

There’s been one case where I did actually find that the blogger had hired someone to write a whole heap of content for them. They’d been ripped off by this person. This person has basically scraped a whole heap of content from my site and other sites. While it’s hard to get to the truth of these matters, in one case, I was able to do that and we actually got an omission from the writer themselves. You’ve got to at least go into that with a bit of benefit of the doubt for the other person.

I usually ask people to remove the content on the site within 24 hours. Sometimes, I’ve asked them to apologize and admit that they’ve done the wrong thing if they’ve really done the wrong thing in a big way. There was one person who’d scraped 500 of my articles and I forced them to issue an apology because they were on a reasonably well-known blog at the time as well. I always try and contact the other blogger first.

If you can’t find their contact details, the second thing you do is to run a WHOIS check of their site. I use the service Copyscape to do that, but Google WHOIS, and then you can plug in any URL. Depending on how they’ve set up their site, you can often get a contact email for them or for their web host. Sometimes, they hide that information but, in most cases you are at least able to find out who’s hosting their site.

That gives you two further avenues for action. Firstly, you may get the person’s contact email address and you’re able to email them directly and if not, you might be able to contact the site that is hosting them.

This is probably the third step, if I don’t get any response from the blogger themselves, I usually will contact the company that has their servers hosted with and contact them telling them about this breach of copyright. That host, that server has a legal obligation to do something about that. They’re legally not allowed to host copyrighted information. They know that they’re going to get in trouble for that. You find that many servers, many host companies will have a process for you to follow to issue them with a DMCA takedown notice. That’s what you need to put together, a DMCA takedown notice.

This is a legal document. You need to sign it. It’s one of those things that’s pretty serious. If you issue one of these and it’s not true, you can have some legal consequences to you. But if you feel like you are in the right and this person has taken your content without your permission, breaching your copyright, you can issue a DMCA takedown notice to them or to their site’s host, and that server company has to remove that content. Most will do it very quickly because they don’t want to get tied up in a legal fight with you.

If the blog is hosted on Blogger, Blogspot,, Tumblr, or Medium, they will have somewhere in there citing their terms and conditions in their frequently asked questions. They’ll probably have the process outlined for you. That’s what you need to do. You need to find out how to issue that DMCA takedown notice. You will need to provide where your content was originally published online so that they can go, look, and compare the two pieces of content. You’ll need to give some information on when you publish that and that type of thing as well just so that they can do a bit of an investigation.

But it’s usually not too long of a process. In most of the cases, and I’ve only had to go this far probably about 5 or 6 times in the last 10 years, most of the cases were taken down very quickly. Sometimes just threatening the fact and that you are going to issue a DMCA, if you write to the blogger themselves, and say that your next step is to issue a DMCA to your host, sometimes that’s enough as well. That extra threat to the blogger themselves is enough because they don’t want to lose their blog.

There was another time where I did contact another blogger’s advertisers. I’m not sure whether this is the right way to do it but it worked in this case. The blogger themselves weren’t responding to me so I started to ask myself what the motivation of their site is and I realized they were running ads all over their site. I contacted one of their advertisers, who was also one of my advertisers, and said, “Did you know you’re advertising on a site that is stealing my copy?” That advertiser went back to the blogger and that’s when I got some action as well. Maybe that’s another option that you can do.

That’s the fourth step. The first step was to contact the blogger. Number two is run a WHOIS. Number three was to contact the server company of that site or the host whether it be Blogger a WordPress. Number four is, maybe, try some advertisers of that site. Number five, I’m not really sure, I hesitate to say this, but maybe there is a place to shame those suckers. Maybe there is a time and a place to name, shame them, and expose them for what they are.

I’ve done this a few times. Sometimes, I’ve done it a little bit earlier than perhaps I should, but sometimes, people just have to own up to their own responsibilities. I’m (I guess) lucky, fortunate enough to have a fairly large social profile, so my reader’s outrage probably helped a little. If you’re smaller, it may be a little bit hard for you to do that.

The sixth thing you might want to try—I never had to do this; I’ve heard other bloggers try to do this one—if to file for that other blog to be banned from Google and other search engines. There is a Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You can do a bit of research on that. As I said, I’ve never done it before and I don’t really know how much success you’ll have with it but you might want to research that particular one.

I guess the last point of call could be legal action. This is something I’ve never had to go to the extent of. I’ve threatened it a couple of times but usually, that WHOIS search might give you enough point of contact to be able to issue those sorts of proceedings. But it’s probably a last resort and a bit of an expensive route to go.

In most cases, I’ve found that people will respond if you send them an email and say, “Hey, I’ve caught you, here’s the proof,” try and be polite, give them a little bit of a benefit of doubt, they’ll probably make some excuse. I’ve never really had anyone admit to doing it, it’s usually someone, their employee, said they didn’t know, or they usually come up with some excuse, but usually, they’ll take down that content pretty quick when you start saying to them that you’re going to issue a DMCA takedown notice to their server. In most cases, I’ve had a resolution on that.

Now, there is a service you can use called Copyscape paid service. I think they might have a free option as well, you might want to investigate that. That’s a service that will help you to identify when your content is being stolen. You can run some tests on using Copyscape or you could just simply Google some of your own content. Just grab a couple of sentences of your content that you know no one else would have written exactly the same way. Put quotation marks around them, put them into Google, and see what comes up. You’ll find, in many cases, that someone is using your content in one way or another.

Again, the question is “Is it really worth your time to do something about it? Could you use that time in some more constructive way?” Really, only you can answer, that once you’ve looked at things like how that content is ranking, is it outranking yours, and are they giving you acknowledgment, are they linking back to your source, at least, which, in the long run, may actually benefit you if someone does find their content.

I hope that’s helpful to you, Grant. I thank you for your question. If you’ve got a question that you’d like me to ask, you can just head to There are contact forms all over my sites and you can ask a question using any of those contact forms. Or you can just email me directly at [email protected] and I will try and tackle as many of those questions as I can in future episodes.

Thanks so much for listening. Again, if you do want to check out today’s show notes, they’re at You can also grab that opt-in six months of content ideas at

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