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The Attack of the Scraper Bots! (Stolen Online Content)

John has many years of writing experience in poetry, short fiction and text for children's books. Basically, he just loves to write.

Image by Click on

Image by Click on

Content Theft ~ an Insidious Act

Are other people copying/stealing your online content? The chances are yes, they probably are, whether you are aware of it or not. Somewhere, in a deep dark corner of the World Wide Web lurks that obscure website or blog that harbours clones of your beloved articles, stories, or poems.

Creating quality online content is no easy job. It is often hard work, may involve countless hours of research, and planning. Looking at your finished product you breathe a sigh of relief. You are proud of what you achieved, and feel it was well worth all that time and effort. Then along comes the Internet thief, plagiarist, or scammer, and in one fell swoop steals/copies your content and reproduces it in part or its entirety, on his own dingy little website or blog.

Stealing content is easy, much too easy. Ethically and legally this is very wrong, but it happens everywhere, all the time.

Scraper Bots: Image by Computerizer from Pixabay

Scraper Bots: Image by Computerizer from Pixabay

Release the Scraper Bots

Sometimes content is innocently copied by a student or well-meaning person who is impressed by what you wrote but has no evil intentions to claim it as their own and try to make money off it. These sporadic incidents can be written off as just innocent folly. But, then there are those more scheming individuals who are blinded by dollar signs and the thought of an easy buck.

For content theft to be particularly profitable it needs to be done on a large scale, and the easiest and quickest way to copy large volumes of online content is to use...drum roll.....SCRAPER BOTS! Also known as Web Crawlers, this is an automated software that scans your website at frequent intervals and copies any content of interest.

The most sophisticated of these bots will be disguised as human users and planted at websites to secretly monitor for new posts to steal them from under our noses. Most website administrators have no idea how many of these fake members/users they really have. There is a distinct possibility that some of your own followers are bots.

The worst part of having your content scraped or stolen and republished on other sites without your knowledge and consent is that it may harm your SEO rankings. Duplicate content presents a challenge for search engines, and they have to decide which version to rank higher in the search results. Nine times out of ten Google is smart enough to identify the original source, but it isn't perfect by any means.

Sometimes the scraper bots are set up to poach content the moment it is published. This in turn makes it very difficult to decide which version came first.

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Online/identity theft: Image by CeruleanSon from Pixabay

Online/identity theft: Image by CeruleanSon from Pixabay

What Can I Do If My Content Is Stolen?

Well, I am glad you asked that question. Well, there are a number of things but how effective they remain to be seen. If you know the site that stole your work you can start by emailing the owner or administrator and asking them kindly to remove your copyrighted work. If they refuse or more likely ignore your request, you can lodge a DMCA notice to the site owner, the host, and if all else fails, Google.

There is much conjecture as to how effective DMCA notices are, sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't. Some countries have very lax ar almost non-existant copyright laws. Often sites will delete your content after receiving notice only to reinstate the material at a later date.

In the case of scraper bots stealing huge amounts of content from a site like HubPages that has thousands of authors, I don't feel it should be up to each individual author to continually have to lodge DMCA forms, if every time they publish an article it is stolen. For all technology that makes it easy for thieves to steal content, there should be equivalent technology to counter that. So, even though each author owns the content they produce, I feel that the site administrator should have some responsibility to pro protect content produced on their site that they also make money from.

One other suggestion I was given that may actually have merit, is to send an invoice to the person or administrator of the site who stole your work and charge them for use of your copyrighted content. The person who mentioned it said they were surprised that they were actually paid twice using this method.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

That Brings Us To: Gourmet Pro ~ Acpeo.com

Everything I have written up to now has been leading to this. A website called Gourmet Pro, (acpeo.com) has been scraping content from HubPages and Discover as soon as the author hits the 'publish' button. Even before the articles are featured they are stolen. Some authors have even had their articles unpublished and marked as duplicate (most unfairly) due to how fast the scraper bots strike.

I am one author who has had a number of articles stolen by 'acpeo.com' and placed on the Gourmet Pro site (under the heading 'Business' which makes no sense.) There is every chance that this article will be scraped and republished there as well. If you are reading this at Gourmet Pro, please be aware that you are supporting an unscrupulous thief and reading work that is copyrighted elsewhere at HubPages. If you click on the "source" link at the bottom of the article it will take you to my original work, proving my claim. As most of the articles on Gourmet Pro are in fact stolen content from HubPages I recommend that you visit that site instead and support the real authors, not some fake scammer. Together we can rise up and defeat the scaper bots!


© 2022 John Hansen

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