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Protecting RSS Feeds from Theft

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of June 2005 RSS 0 Comments

Paul has come up with a cool way to put off those wanting to rip off your content by republishing your full RSS feed – he’s found a way for WordPress bloggers to insert a copyright notice into the feed so that it appears on any site using your content.

‘Anyway, for other bloggers using WordPress who want to throw a scare into the scrapemasters who swipe their stuff and use it as spam, I took the liberty of modifying the wp-rss2.php file so it includes a visible copyright notice in every post in the feed.

First thing your (RSS) readers will see is your excerpt from your post followed by a horisontal line and this underneath:

“© 2005 YOUR-BLOG-URL.com This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you’re not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you’re looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact YOUR-CONTACT-DETAILS so we can take legal action immediately.”’

Read more at Stop Stealing My Stuff | BlogLogic.net

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. No matter the medium, there is always some shuckster who is either too lazy, or more likely not talented enough to do their own content.

    I’ve been pondering how to place my photos on the net without them disappearing, that doesn’t seemto work so I am left to put a HUGE copyright notice on them.

    However, I’m glad to see some good innovative ways for people to know who did what. Most times, I’m curious to the original author of a piece but have no idea where it came from.

  2. I have not had too much of a need to deal with that yet, but thanks for the heads up, I might add that as one of my many plugins. Good old WordPress, eh?

  3. I’m curious as to how this balances out with the cut, paste & link blog style that a lot of professional bloggers use.
    I mean what’s the difference, do you guys object to having your material used in that way?

  4. There’s a big difference in posting a short excerpt with a link to the full article and just “reBlogging” an entire post with either no link or an almost hidden one. One is encouraging other people to visit another site to read something you found interesting, while the other is pretending that you’re interesting.

  5. Jon – I don’t usually mind, but I have actually seen more personal things, like hanging out with my gf at a restaurant republished on another site just because I talked about the location in my post (it was republished on an ontario restaurant site). That frustrates me a bit because some program looking for keywords republishes the full text of my postings on another site with no credit to me…the original writer.

  6. Modified RSS and Atom Feeds

    Being inspired by an entry on the Problogger’s entry to protect my feeds from copyright theft, I added the following to my RSS and Atom Feeds which can be easily included in your own Blogspirit-Templates:
    <a href=”{$post.permalink}#trackbacks”&g…

  7. Darren, thanks for the mention. I appreciate it.

    Jon, the difference can be seen in Darren’s post above. He found something on the web related to his blog’s subject matter, selectively quoted the original author properly, mentioned the author’s name, provided a live link back to the original article, and also added his own thoughts and comments suited to his audience. Things Darren didn’t do: aggregate and republish (copy) the feed as blog content.

    Darren’s post above is the perfect example of how ethical and polite bloggers quote each other.

    Again, thanks Darren.

  8. I agree, but my example said: copy, paste & link (if you comment then I understand the clear difference).

    Let’s take another example: here. This guy beat out Darren for the busines blogging award. I could write a script that does exactly what 99% of his posts do. I’d like to know what is difference between that and the scrapemasters?

  9. I’m a bit taken aback by how much the discussion so far seems to resemble the “intellectual property theft” talk coming from big corporations. The beauty of RSS is exactly that it enables automated syndication – as in the clever splicing together of feeds that Stephen Downes does with his EduRSS service. To my mind the default position should be that if you put your stuff in an RSS feed it is because you _want_ people to syndicate it in whatever way they see fit. If you don’t want that, then put an appropriate Creative Commons license on it indicating what sorts of use you agree to. And only if you really, really don’t want that, then go for something as restrictive as traditional copyright, but even then I really don’t like the idea of putting threats about taking “legal action immediately” into one’s posts. It feels to me as if it poisons the whole ethos of free exchange that the web is about – smacks of those silly “linking policies” that some big corporation websites have, presuming to prescribe in what ways one is allowed to link to them. Sure, spam blogs that mindlessly and automatically republish content they get from elsewhere aren’t nice, but we should avoid over-reacting to them.

  10. “Good old WordPress, eh?”

    As I pointed out elsewhere, this solution has nothing to do with WordPress, except that this example uses WordPress. It’s just a matter of adding this stuff to one’s RSS feeds, which can be done in any blogging tool which gives you access to how the feeds are generated.

  11. Why not add an affiliate link to all your RSS feeds and let the scrapers put money in your pocket?

  12. Maybe if my RSS Feeds were working, I could protect them :(
    Anyone have any idea on how to fix my feeds?


  13. How to get feedburner to put that notice on their feeds?

  14. I’m afraid if you don’t want to lose something then the worst place to put it is on the web. Before publishing you should ask yourself how valuable it is to you.

    The web is built on hyperlinking. The danger is that if people want copyright protections on the web then it’ll inhibit others from linking to other snippets of information. The web has no future without us being able to link to each other – it’d be a sad and boring place indeed.

    Perhaps such coveted information is more suitable for print?!

    Maybe if you found your blog published as a book under another’s name there’s an issue but simply using the web to do what it was designed for seems natural enough. The web is too young for rules like Don’t Walk On The Grass – or would you rather be sued for reading someone’s essay at some URL without their permission in a few years time? There’s just too much me in all of this talk about information on the web lately.

    Great site, by the way, I read it avidly and have great respect for your work. Thanks for the resource.

  15. […] Rowse over at ProBlogger (one of my daily reads) posted an interesting article today about Protecting RSS Feeds From Theft and I thought it wouldn’t hu […]

  16. […] 2005 by Mike Schnoor in Design, Blogosphere Being inspired by an entry on the Problogger’s entry to protect my feeds from […]

  17. […] I think it’s important to be aware of this issue and keep it on your radar, but you shouldn’t obsess over it or let it keep you from blogging. There are precautions you can take, and steps you can take if you feel your content has been stolen. […]

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