A Freelance Writers Guide To Content Scraping: What To Do If You Get Hit

Anyone in the online marketing biz has heard the phrase a million times: content is king! And it’s true. Internet advertisers are constantly looking for ways to increase the amount of quality content on their websites. That’s where “content scraping” comes in. It’s a common practice that marketers just accept as part of doing business – but for freelance writers, the practice is a little more damaging to the bottom line.

The main legal question: Is content scraping legal or illegal?

What Is Content Scraping?

And as we all know, when there is a demand, innovative individuals figure out ways to fill it. In the case of Web content, many have turned to software that scours the Net and collects relevant content, thus allowing the individual who is using the software to post others’ content on their Web properties. This practice is commonly known as “content scraping.” What usually happens is that an agent of one site – either an electronic bot or a human – steals the content of another site and posts it on their own. Sophisticated scrapers may also inject backlinks to their own sites, to make it look like the original author was the one who “stole” the content from the scraper.

Now, some marketers depend on scraping software. And to be perfectly frank, it’s a fairly common practice in the industry; folks often turn the other cheek. But if you’re the person who writes the original content, you may find scraping a bit more insidious; after all, you’re the one who spent hours crafting that content; they’re your hard-fought words and ideas.

How Does Content Scraping Hurt Content Creators?

Why does posting nearly identical content on different websites present a problem? The answer has to do with search spiders and bots who are not fond of duplicate content across the Web; and now they’re advanced enough to sniff out and penalize sites that engage in the activity. Google, for example, significantly devalues the rankings of websites with significant duplicate content. Now imagine you were the original author, but the non-sentient bot categorized you as the plagiarizer. It’s happened to thousands of other freelancers, and could happen to you too.

How Can Freelance Writers & Blogger Fight Content Scrapers?

So the question becomes: can you, as a content writer, with very little technical knowledge, beat the super-smart scraping software? Yes you can. But it does take patience and a tiny fee. So how do you fight back? Use the provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Many bloggers and website owners have turned to the DMCA to protect their work. Since scraping is seen as modern-day plagiarism on steroids, they use takedown provisions provided for in the DMCA, and send requests to websites infringing on their content. If a request to the website goes unanswered, then they send one to the hosting company. If that still fails, there are also ways to get a court order to have the scraped results removed from search engine indexes.

If You Relinquish Rights You Have No Rights

If you write for a content provider, like Textbroker or Constant Content, and agree to hand over all copyrights to the buyer, than you relinquish rights to the content once the buyer accepts and pays for the work. If, however, the buyer never ended up buying the work, and you come across it online, then you have every right to snatch that copy back from them using the DMCA takedown provisions.

If you are a freelance writer who is interested in a copyright protection package for your portfolio and future work, contact us today. We work with many freelancers and offer flat-fee pricing for legal packages specially developed for your industry in mind. Contact us today to begin the conversation.

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