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What to do when you find a site scraping your content

Published by Chris Coyier

Nothing.

Longer Version

I know it feels frustrating. Yes, they are lowlife bastards. If you launch an all out fight against them to get it taken down, you might win. You'll also leave that fight angry and bruised. Instead, you could spend that time doing something enjoyable, productive, and ultimately more valuable for the long-term success of your site.

And anyway, your website:

  • is on a domain with more trust.
  • published that article first.
  • is coded better for SEO than theirs.
  • is better designed than theirs.
  • isn't at risk for serious penalization from search engines.

...so you really don't have anything to worry about.

Comments

  1. T
    Permalink to comment#

    What site was it by chance.

    I suppose you could take it like others say;

    Copying is the highest form of flattery!

  2. If they’re lazy and linking to your images you can change the images and have fun with them. I’ve had a few sites steal content and didn’t even bother to save their own images to link to, so of course I had fun with it. :)

    @nicholaspatten

    • haha… yeah I’ve done that as well… copy the images to a new directory on your site and then take the images they’re linking to and say ridiculous things all over them.

  3. Did a search on “Blockquote Bulge.” Jeez, lots of scrapping going on there.

    And CSS Triks? Is that CSS with three wheels? Yikes.

    • Noah
      Permalink to comment#

      Oh wow, I just did a search on it too, yeah, it’s being copied everywhere, although a couple do name Chris is the author and one or 2 link back here on CSS-Tricks. But a lot don’t however. They even took the image. They’re linking to it directly from their site. If I was in Chris’ position, I’d change out the article image the a duplicate, but with a different name. And since everyone is linking straight to that original image, you can put what image you want there. You could put some porno image and have all those stealing sites suddenly have porno images in the middle of their stolen article.

  4. DJ
    Permalink to comment#

    It took me a very long time to realize this. I still get pretty angry but I don’t engage them, there’s no point really.

  5. Just start including “this site steals its content from css-tricks.” in your posts.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Most of them scrape through RSS, so a common practice is to use a “Feed Footer” style plugin which only inserts that content through RSS. We do that on http://digwp.com – I might consider starting to do that around here. I wonder if there are any negative implications of that though. Like if all the sudden there started to be a bunch of incoming links to me from super sketchy sites.

      But to be clear, I stand by “Nothing.” as a good reaction to dealing the scrapers.

    • harris c
      Permalink to comment#

      The company that appears to be doing this is some http://www.varadesigns.com, i just sent them an email saying they shouldn’t copy and show take the site down. If everyone here does they they will either have to live with spam from everywhere or take it down.

    • Permalink to comment#

      It really hurts when someone copies or takes credit of work :(

      BTW which plugin you use for inserting feed footer?

    • Permalink to comment#

      Hello Chris,

      You may want to look at this, its a very simple, and interesting way to deal with this douche bags.

      http://perishablepress.com/press/2010/09/24/content-scrapers-suck-ass/

    • Permalink to comment#

      I went to check out “Feed Footer” and noticed that the link for Feed Footer is blacklisted by Google. Hmmmm.

      http://www.blogclout [dot] com/blog/goodies/feed-footer-plugin/

      I agree with your reaction of doing nothing as well. My time is spent much better on positive things.

  6. Permalink to comment#

    Sorry, grammar Nazi time…

    “You’re website” should have your instead of you’re.

  7. Shut up you vikings!
    Permalink to comment#

    You’re? Maybe you should have an adult look over your posts before releasing them.

  8. harris c
    Permalink to comment#

    another thing i just notices is on the bottom of the varadesigns.com i listed they have your css tricks, some random html tricks and then another knock off http://uidesigning.blogspot.com/ of http://EzineArticles.com/. I would let the other people being knocked off too if i were u.

  9. Permalink to comment#

    Hey! You swiped this post from my site!

    :)

    Good article.

  10. Permalink to comment#

    Great article Chris. Like someone up in the first few comments said, “Copying is the greatest form of flattery.” So true.

  11. haha nice post… *like*

  12. Permalink to comment#

    When I found some sites scrapping my feed I blocked their IP at server level. that stopped them.

    • Simple, effective, quick. :)

      If they leave links to my site I tend to ignore them however… every link I don’t have to pay/ask for is welcome.

  13. Anybody notice the slug for this page is “scrapers-wear-doodoo-hats” haha that is rich. The day I find other sites scraping any content I ever make will be the day I buy myself a cold one (domestic of course) for being just that darn cool. After that the combat boots come on.

  14. Chris
    Permalink to comment#

    “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”
    -Edmund Burke

    • Permalink to comment#

      That’s a great quote. I don’t think the application of it here means “these scrapers need to be fought against” though. Doing nothing to fight them through lawyers and takedown notices doesn’t mean sit around and stare at the wall. It means, like I said in the article, to spend that time creating. That way you beat them through the positive activity of building things up rather than the negative activity of tearing things down.

  15. Permalink to comment#

    Took me a really long time to realize this, but after spamming them out and telling them to stop, I found out that I was starting to waste a lot of time, wasn’t getting anywhere, and was becoming just as bad.

    Doing nothing is definitely better, or like you said at least something productive. Keeping a cool head takes time to master though.

  16. Permalink to comment#

    i started using flickr, and watermarking my images after noticing contents being used in other website, as if it was their own… I did initially dabble with htaacess from stopping hotlinking and displaying logo pic-“i love dishwithvivien.com” in these websites, but if user went to their site, then came to my site, then all the photos in my site will show that logo pic as well (from cache)…

    • this is a neat idea ( the .htaccess option serving a different image depending on the HTTP_REFERER) what you want to do though is set the expires header so that its not cached… and the best solution i can think of (though i dont know off the top of my head how easy this is to do) is to set a different expires header for your own site (so it does cache) to the ones linking, so it does NOT cache

  17. Jason
    Permalink to comment#

    Just wondering… if they link to your images, does that count as a link with the search engines? Maybe even boosting your ranking?

  18. Permalink to comment#

    @Jason Probably not, unless they’re actually linking to the image with the anchor tag. The image tag will do nothing for you except for eating away at your resources. Google Images will show that the image is hosted on your server, but the linked page will be theirs, not yours.

  19. Permalink to comment#

    A site I used to run sat alongside other websites that all posted the same content. Maybe 1 in every 100 posts was unique, whereas my website tried to post as much unique content as possible (maybe 9/10 posts were unique).

    In reality, whether they repost manually or it’s automated through an RSS feed, it is going to happen, which is unfortunate.

    At the same time, more people will discover your content if it is scrapped. Penalization could be a risk, but giving credit where it’s due and linking back to the source is always helpful and welcome!

  20. Permalink to comment#

    well if they take content by rss u can always attach yiur name and backlink to rss feed…

    on using my or other contetnt i find it ok as long as people tell where they get it from and provide some backlinks (we all like those right :)

    its simply wrong to take it as their own though

  21. sliver37
    Permalink to comment#

    My opinion of it is yes, imitation is flattery but copy > paste is just stealing for hopes of traffic (not even crediting the original author, and linking straight to the original images). Just sad, really.

    You’re right though, doing nothing is far easier (and less stressful, I would imagine) than trying to get it removed.

    I for one wouldn’t bookmark/frequent any of those sites, so really, all it does it turn the design community against them.

    /endrant

    • Permalink to comment#

      I completely agree. In this case, copying is NOT flattery at all. It is yet another case where someone has absolutely NO creativity to write their own content so they steal it out of laziness with hopes to make some money.

      It’s kind of like music. Some finer musicians remake a song out of pure respect for the greatness of the original song [or artist] and then add their own creative style to it, while others flat out remake a song because they are out of ideas!

  22. Permalink to comment#

    I was listening to a podcast a while ago – I can’t remember who it was speaking – but they said that they had to deal with this a lot. Their solution was to send a polite email stating the problem and asking for it to be resolved. No more, no less. Some people will stop, others won’t. If they’re not going to at that point, then like you said, no point in fighting. But you might be surprised at how many will stop if asked.

  23. Can’t you block their scrapping server’s IP Address with a .htaccess file?

  24. harris
    Permalink to comment#

    I was just on the site and they have now taken down all of chris’s content, taken the links off their design website, and even written a little of what appears to be their own stuff. All seems to be better now.

  25. Jack Nycz
    Permalink to comment#

    While it’s still annoying when your stuff gets jacked, it means you did something well enough that somebody went through the process of stealing. That’s my glass-half-full view anyways.

  26. Very frustrating that someone else is trying to benefit from your hard work.

  27. Stefan
    Permalink to comment#

    I am interested to see how many scrapers autoscrape/post. Probably most. I wonder if THIS post was scraped and posted on those other sites? That would be fun.

  28. Protection sucks! That reminds me of the times when I used to work with an Austrian (now German) company specialized on inventions. What we had learned is that patents don’t protect at all, they actually force the inventors to publicize their invention for all others to build upon – and heck, try to sue a Sony, Apple or Microsoft for using your stuff, haha.

    The only real protection is to produce first and market wisely.

    Cheers, Mike

    • Havvy
      Permalink to comment#

      An anecdote that adds to the piling evidence than IP laws are useless.

  29. Permalink to comment#

    I totally agree with Jeff on this one :)

  30. I would do something about your images, since it can end up putting a load on your own server. That is of course, unless you don’t mind paying for what others want to freely absorb from your own efforts.

    Text I wouldn’t pay much attention to, simply because it will hardly effect your bandwidth and you can just spend time making articles and being creative (which I like). They won’t see any amount of success you’re seeing simply because they’re fake and they probably don’t have the discipline to write original and unique articles. In the long run they’re going to fail.

  31. Permalink to comment#

    What I did when I was finding out that there is a hot linking issue with Kensfi.com is to identify the IP and block it.

    Also there is this technique to replace the images with a specific image in case someone is using hot linking, usually a funny image meant to discourage those bad asses.

  32. Anthony
    Permalink to comment#

    Yeah, I found some CSS-tricks articles on another website while trying to fix some code problems I was having.

    I felt quite annoyed that someone was ripping off the work of someone else (Chris) who obviously works very long and hard to bring quality content to a quality website like this. Needless to say I don’t visit those websites at all anymore through principle.

    It’s wrong that people duplicate material or create themselves a ‘role’ to play when there isn’t the need for that role.

    As you said Chris, it’s far more productive and rewarding to make something new and of interest to bring to the world.

    May the scrapers grow stale and be seen as the functionless appendages they are!
    (sorry for the rant)

  33. Permalink to comment#

    Yes, you’re right. Of course it’s not nice to see that somebody had stolen you’re content – but that’s life! I mean, if you totally don’t want anybody to steel your content, you simply shouldn’t upload it to the Web.

    “Copying is the greatest form of flattery.” – I absolute agree!

  34. John Tanedo
    Permalink to comment#

    Hey chris!
    Was this article ignited by my message a few days ago? :D
    Great Article man. . . and I was enlightened when you replied :
    “I do nothing, I spend my time creating the good stuff”.
    Thanks man! for everything. . . you have no idea how much you have helped people with your blog. Before I found css-tricks, I didnt have any idea of what I want to be, what I would do with my life or what job I would love to do. . . Now I have landed a job as a web designer, although I am a gazillion miles away from what you can do, I am learning a lot though.

    Thanks Dude! Hope you get to reach more people like me. perhaps those kids who are consumed by computer games just like I was before I found my love for web design through css-tricks! Rock on Man! and Oh by the way since you were also in a band once like me, whatkind of music do you listen and used to play?

  35. Permalink to comment#

    Hey John, it was a bit yep =) I was also putting together a presentation about blogging and it reminded me to put a part in about all this scraping business. I’ll have to get slides up for that soon.

  36. Thank you. Great article.

  37. whatever
    Permalink to comment#

    Actually you can do something to keep a part of scraping bots away from your website, you can ban their ips if you find them, or you can put some filters on your website to check the user-agents, or set some cookies on the first visit and check it over and over (most of the “creators” of scrapers bots are just some code monkeys who found out about preg_match and file_get_contents so they will probably not save cookies or set user-agents), or you can check the time between every page view per ip.

  38. Josh
    Permalink to comment#

    The way I see it, the world is filled with those that will steal what they haven’t worked for because they are lazy. But those are also the people who will never invent anything on their own. The only important people, those who know you and know your abilities, will know the truth. As the saying goes imitation is the highest form of flattery. Maybe we should all strive to be copied :)

  39. Permalink to comment#

    Hey Chris,let me show you the funniest mail i have ever seen.What do you think about it?

    http://designbeep.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/mail.gif

    • Keith Smith
      Permalink to comment#

      @Arshad-That CAN’T be real…that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, if it is real…HAHAHAHA

      Chris, Thanks again for pointing out something important I would never have considered. I’m not yet at the point where I think my work would be scraped, but it’s good to know what to watch out for.

    • sliver37
      Permalink to comment#

      hahaha! Now that is funny. Also kind of makes you feel sorry for some of these guys, maybe they are genuinely that uneducated (some of them, not the bots) and think whats on the internet is “up for grabs”.

      “Might have to contact my lawyer” haha, classic stuff though.

    • Permalink to comment#

      @Arshad – now that is comedy genius if that guy was genuine. Nothing funnier than a thief complaining you took away his ‘right’ to blatantly steal from you. Did he ever get them lawyers on to you?

  40. I really think that you got it right, Chris. If someone needs to scrape your content, it is because they do not know as much as you, or are at a lower level. People aren’t stupid and can tell where the original content came from.

    There is just no point to it at all. Hah, there should be a site that lists scrapers. It is like severe web authority.

  41. Permalink to comment#

    I couldn’t agree more Chris. Well said. I really appreciate your take on these matters.

  42. I agree with your bullet points about yours being the original site:

    -is on a domain with more trust
    -published that article first
    -is coded better for SEO than theirs
    -is better designed than theirs
    -isn’t at risk for serious penalization from search engines

    You have built all these web assets over time and there are always better things and oppurtunities to occupy your time, although you wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t feel a little disappointed/upset. LT

  43. Permalink to comment#

    I don’t agree that it’s ok to accept them duplicating your content. I think it’s essential to fight back. Especially if you have published something that was several years work in the making… Fortunately, I have something of a family background in law. Learn to write a “talk softly but carry a big stick” style letter letting them know of your intent to pursue a course of legal action over their copyright infringement. I’ve had 100% success in getting my material taken down so far. In my experience they pee their pants and beg for mercy if they realize that you know your stuff.

    Re: the domain having more trust; not necessarily so. But the good news is that if your content does appear on a domain with more trust, (i.e. scribd, wikipedia, youtube etc) it is often easier to get it removed.

  44. Permalink to comment#

    you were right

    but, to be honest, i still dislike those scrapers

    is there by any chance Google mis-penalize content and judge ours to be the duplicate ones…?

  45. Jim
    Permalink to comment#

    If you are having problems with images, it’s best to just block external linking of your images through htaccess. If you are having content taken like Chris is talking about, then I would agree with what he was mentioning in his article.

  46. Permalink to comment#

    hmm… you could pull your own CSS Trick. cancel bubble (comment 6) gave me an idea.

    write the phrase he mentioned within a p tag with some obscure class name such as…

    [p class="hahahah"]these characters were blatantly and without permission stolen from [a href="css-tricks.com"]the real css tricks website[/a].[/p]

    then create a style such as…

    .hahahah {display:none;}

    unless there’s a human checking the content, your trojan horse will be visible to all on the offending site(s)

  47. Permalink to comment#

    I have had the odd enquiry from people asking the best way to scrape sites. It is always some dodgy marketing scumbag trying to sell advertising on ‘his’ site without doing any real creative work.

    It is a shame some are making money this way.

    I love the excerpt for this post. Nothing. That is pure genius, Chris!

  48. Permalink to comment#

    The way I see it, the world is filled with those that will steal what they haven’t worked for because they are lazy.

  49. Nothing it is. :( I feel dirty. Like they’ve taken me out and shown me what for.

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