How to deal with plagiarists and content scrapers?

James Ryan Jonas

Plagiarism and content scraping have been a perennial problem for most bloggers.

Plagiarists are the “copy-and-paste” people who directly lift someone else’s content and who republish it as their own.

Actually, copying an entire article is not really wrong as long as the source is properly credited. But if a blog is a mere mashup or collection of someone else’s content — even if the source is credited — then that is already “scraping.”

In most cases, these scrapers use robots or automated systems that browse the RSS feed of one blog then repost the content on the scraper’s blog. Worse, these scrapers plaster the blog with Google Adsense ads which means they earn by stealing the content of other bloggers.

In their Inside Adsense blog, Google posted solutions to help address these issues.

First, you can report plagiarists by filing a copyright infringement report. Basically, you send Google a written communication (fax or mail, not email) containing your complaint. Refer here for details of the content of your copyright infringement report.

As for content scrapers, you can report it for a potential violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. The report form is available in your account. Under the “Talk to Google” sidebar on the right, click the Report Spam in our index link.

Google promises to “take appropriate action” if a plagiarist or content scraper is found guilty. I assume this can be any of the following:

  • removal of the plagiarist’s or scraper’s blog from the Google search results — which means search engine users cannot see the blog as a search result causing a drop in the number of visitors
  • permanent ban in Google Adsense — the account will be closed and all pending earnings won’t be paid
  • termination of Google services — repeat violators can have their Google Accounts terminated which means they can’t use Google services anymore

Fortunately, Google has now offered us ways to fight back. Hopefully, this will signal the death of these vile and ruthless plagiarists and content scrapers.

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.