Blog » Automated Theft of Copyrighted Content

Automated Theft of Copyrighted Content

The myriads of websites that give advice on "how to make money online" have a common theme running through them: have lots of quality content on your website that people want to read. So, how does one obtain this large volume of quality content? There are those who have the ability to create/write it themselves. Others have built up their site to the point that they can pay others to write for them. Then there are so-called "community" or "social-networking" that effectively get their users to produce the content themselves. The final option is to steal someone else's content. I have previously noted that there is considerably less original content on the internet than there are websites/pages. Even worse,

I discovered websites that copied content from others verbatim. Since then, I have found several software packages on sale that will steal content from other websites/blogs and publish them on your own website.

These software packages are often advertised as a way to make money online without having to do anything (i.e., a get rich quick scheme). I am not going to provide a link to any of these products since I consider what they do to be illegal (copyright theft) and unethical. These products work by reading RSS feeds from selected sites and republishing the content on a website. This new website then makes money by displaying advertisements. Essentially, the RSS feeds are being abused.

So, apart from the fact that someone else is making money off your content, why should you care? Well, these websites are likely to have more content than your own (they are stealing from multiple websites)they will also be higher in the search rankings, and gain more readers. These are readers that might have visited your website. Therefore, not only have they stolen your content, such websites also reduce the number of readers visiting your site. Regardless, the fact that they are making money off work that is not theirs and that they never received permission to use, is bad enough.

I have decided that my initial attitude was too lax. Now, in my opinion:

  • Quoting segments from another website is fine, so long as the original page is referenced,
  • Discussing/rehashing content published on another website is also fine, so long as the new material is original, but
  • Copying a whole page (or even a significant portion) verbatim without permission from the copyright holder constitutes copyrighted material theft and is not okay, even if the original page is linked to.

What can be done about this issue? At present, the scale of the problem is not even known (at least to me). It is possible to write software that will look for duplicate material, but how would one prove which copy is the original content, and which is the illegal copy? Additionally, sometimes material is duplicated with the copyright owner's permission. I am tempted to write software to scan the internet for those who steal content from this website (there has already been one case of copied content). However, I would prefer to work on more worthy projects instead of playing copyright cop.

Does anyone else have any ideas on how to counter this problem? If so, feel free to leave a comment below, or to email me. I'd also like to know how big this issue is (i.e., is it worth spending time/money on).

Blog » Automated Theft of Copyrighted Content

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