Hit Scrapers Where It Hurts: Adsense

By Daniel Scocco

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article titled “Google Ranking Scraped Material on Top?,” where I described that for very narrow search terms Google was ranking splogs and content scrapers before the original content.

By the time I was not sure about the best approach to combat these forms of plagiarism and content theft. Filling a DMCA, as Google suggests, is a laborious process (you even need to send documents via fax…).

Reading through the comments, though, I came across some solid advice from Andy Beal. Andy was basically suggesting to report an Adsense TOS infringement instead of filing a DMCA.

Getting someone that is violating copyright kicked out of Adsense should be faster and easier than getting the content removed from an anonymous blogger account (despite that being the optimal situation).

In order to report the Adsense account of the scraper you just need to click on the “Ads by Google” link that appears on all Adsense units.

googleadsensereportlink.png

On the footer of the following page you will see a link saying “Send Google your thoughts on the site or the ads you just saw.” Just click there and follow the instructions.

googlereportadsensecopyright.png

I started to to employ this method with some sites that are copying my content on a consistent basis, and I will keep you guys updated on the results that I will get.

Have you had any luck combating scrapers? What methods did you use?

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48 Responses to “Hit Scrapers Where It Hurts: Adsense”

  • Tejvan Pettinger

    I hope Google carefully investigate these cases, it’s not as if they can’t afford to employ a few extra people.

    It’s kind of ironic that the first comment is a pingback from a blog who has scrapped your content! 🙂 – you probably don’t know whether to laugh or cry

  • Daniel

    Yeah that was funny. Although I am not worries too much with aggregator sites that use my headlines and linkback to my site. You can blog their pingbacks and that solves the problem.

    People copying articles integrally are the real problem.

  • Jeremy Steele

    Google doesn’t give a crap about scrapers – I’ve even filed perfectly legit DMCAs for current splogs and I always get the lame-ass “we see no infringement” bull crap. Problem is 99% of the time I visit the splog after getting that response and my article is still right there.

    One reason I’m using Yahoo and Ask more – I see much less spam in the search results.

  • Andy Beal

    Glad the advice helped! 🙂

  • Andrea Micheloni

    Oh, I’ve used this already – it’s simple justice!- although I guess your blog is cloned 1500 times more than mine…

  • Linda MacPhee-Cobb

    I just reported my first violation to Adsense this morning. I have a scraper who is scraping about half of my websites and posting full versions of all the articles on one of his sites.

    Today I’d had enough. I contacted his webhost, domain registrar and Adsense.

    I’m hoping that works. Love to hear how you make out too.

    We can not prevent scraping, the technology is there. The best you can hope for is a situation like with spam or viruses each side improving his technology to beat the other.

    I think the answer needs to come in the form of a poison pill. The suggestions made for links back to your site are good for you but doesn’t hurt the scrapper. We need something of that flavor that we can insert that makes it harmful or discourages reposting of the content.

  • A. Marques

    Hi,

    Even when the scrapper just posts a few lines of the content, I find that very annoying, specially because the links are mostly nofollow. Also, they can’t even get my name right.

    Do you think that just a few lines scrapping also breaks copyright rules? Because I have the feeling that up to a certain limit of words it is in allowance with copyright laws. Any ideas on this?

  • Daniel

    Marques, check this out:

    http://www.dailyblogtips.com/copyright-law-12-dos-and-donts/

  • Jonathan Bailey

    As much as I hate to be a wet blanket, I can say with a good deal of certainty and personal experience that the steps above will do little good.

    Though the idea of hitting scrapers where it hurts is very sound, the method above doesn’t adequately get the attention of Adsense. Sadly, all one usually gets is a letter back asking for a full DMCA Notice.

    Indeed, Adsense set up requirements some time ago that force copyright holders to file a DMCA notice against the service to get Adsense removed from a page. This is despite the fact that services like Adsense are not protected under the law.

    You can find that information here:

    http://www.google.com/adsense_dmca.html

    It is a horrible pain, requiring either postal mail or a fax machine and is very slow. I’ve waited two weeks or longer for a reply. But it does work. I used it against Bitacle a while back with great success:

    http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/?p=357

    Personally, I would skip the regular abuse procedure and go straight for this. You save several days while Google “processes” your complaint and then informs you that they need more information.

    It can be done and easily, but it is a tremendous timesink compared to what it should require.

    Hope this helps!

  • Anonymous

    I did what Andy Beal suggested. Google replied…that I needed to file a DMCA.

  • Rhys

    The funny thing once was that Scrapers accused me of “Blogging Innappropriately” (My blog is called “The Gospel According To Rhys”, the scrapers was called “Gospel News from The Christian Promotion Group”, I blog about beer and sex, go figure). I used their tactics against them though:

    http://www.gospelrhys.co.uk/2007/01/thou-shalt-not-steal.html

    😉

  • Daniel Harrison

    I’ve been reporting these sites to Google and have noticed a massive drop in scraping of my content. It appears that most of these have stopped now. Perhaps Google got them.

    For people who steal whole articles, I simply report them to their host and Google. Then I put comments all over the site (often wordpress installs) or email the owner of the site saying I just asked Google to ban them. Often get a (nasty) response too!

  • JoeTech.com

    I recently had a situation in which I found one of my articles copied word for word. I decided to make a post about it and direct the copier to my post. Eventually, he removed the copied content, gave me a permanent link back (not sure of any value in that yet), posted a public apology on his own blog, and sent me a gift certificate for Amazon.com large enough to do some fun shopping with. In the end, I feel like I made out pretty well this time. If we could only be so lucky all the time.

  • Ryan Shamus

    Although my blog isn’t copied a 1/10th of what this one is, it still helps to know that there is at least something I can possibly do about it.

    Good job Andy!

  • Kevin Muldoon

    Very good tip. Hitting them in the pocket is the best way to discourage the idiots from ripping everybody off.

  • Skellie

    If only this method worked. Unfortunately, Google don’t care.

    I’d suggest there are probably more scraper sites using AdSense sites than legitimate ones. Google is making millions (perhaps billions?) from the AdSense on splogs. A click is a click is a click.

    Ethically, they should do something about it. In truth, though, this practice is a huge money-maker for them. This is why they have not and won’t do anything.

    Search ‘make money online’ via Google and visit the first result. It’s AdSense TOS violation city there (though some of the content appears to be original). I reported the site about five months ago and absolutely nothing has happened. AdSense is still displaying on the site.

  • pablopabla

    Not only did I report to Google using the same method as yours on copyright violation, I also send a stiff comment to Google that the credibility of their search engine is questionable as they are placing sploggers at the upper end of the search results rather than the original content.

    This happened once when one of my posts was published and a couple of minutes later, I found that it appeared at the top spot for the title searched. A few days later, that post of mine was relegated to the 5th or 6th page of the search even though the exact title search was done (just like before). No prizes for guessing : the splog site was up there at no. 1.

    After giving my feedback, I am happy to note that my site is back on the 1st page of the search and the splog site is no where to be found.

  • costa

    Yes, I need to do the things you mentioned here. It is really getting into my nerves. But some does not run Adsense and uses other Ads. Any way around that?

  • George

    I hate scrapers, especially when they don’t link back to my site (the least they can do if they are going to steal my content is to link back to me). After trying to stop scrapers from scraping my blog, it seemed like more trouble than it’s worth to keep tracking them down and reporting them/filing a DMCA.

  • Cory OBrien

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been looking for a better way to stop the scrapers, so hopefully this is it. Now if Google would just stop indexing all .info domains…

  • Amit Agarwal

    I have tried it a couple of times and what happens is that you get an automated response from AdSense with instructions on how to fill the DMCA.

  • Daniel

    @Amit, you only get the DMCA email if you leave your email address, which is optimal.

    I think, therefore, that they take a look at the violation anyway, whether you send a DMCA or not.

    @Costa, if the guy is not using Adsense than you need to try to contact him or his host, and possible send a DMCA.

  • CompuWorld

    that was cool..

    I used to think that link might be a referal link which will take me to Adsense page..

    from now I wont believe it until I do not experiment it 🙂

  • Skellie

    Just a quick update:

    A March 2006 study reveals that there are more than twice as many splogs as there are real blogs. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of Google’s AdSense income was generated by splogs. If they penalize one, they have to penalize them all.

  • Egonitron

    GREAT tip Daniel, I’ve been looking for a way to do this quickly, it’s driving me nuts. Thanks!

  • Egonitron

    http://digg.com/security/Hit_Feed_Scrapers_Where_it_Hurts_AdSense

  • Jonathan Bailey

    As much as I hate to be a wet blanket, I can say with a good deal of certainty and personal experience that the steps above will do little good.

    Though the idea of hitting scrapers where it hurts is very sound, the method above doesn’t adequately get the attention of Adsense. Sadly, all one usually gets is a letter back asking for a full DMCA Notice.

    Indeed, Adsense set up requirements some time ago that force copyright holders to file a DMCA notice against the service to get Adsense removed from a page. This is despite the fact that services like Adsense are not protected under the law.

    You can find that information here:

    http://www.google.com/adsense_dmca.html

    It is a horrible pain, requiring either postal mail or a fax machine and is very slow. I’ve waited two weeks or longer for a reply. But it does work. I used it against Bitacle a while back with great success.

    Personally, I would skip the regular abuse procedure and go straight for this. You save several days while Google “processes” your complaint and then informs you that they need more information.

    It can be done and easily, but it is a tremendous timesink compared to what it should require.

    Hope this helps!

  • Daniel Errante

    That’s a great find. I haven’t run into the problem of splogs ranking higher than my site with my content, but I have run into splogs copying my content and that’s some great advice for the future. Now I know what to do if I ever run into that problem.

  • Marah Marie

    “Have you had any luck combating scrapers? What methods did you use?”

    Yes. If it’s not a Blogspot splog but scrapes a lot of my content I usually contact the blog or site owner directly. I’ve had entire (huge) websites and fake “message boards” deleted from the Web overnight this way, without any fuss, and even had those same webmasters send me letters of apology on top of that. Those are the webmasters with a conscience.

    I had a special case with another website about a year ago. There was no way I could see to contact the webmaster. The site consisted of hundreds of thousands of scraped pages from Yahoo, LiveJournal, and assorted websites from all over the Web.

    What this website did was redirect your URL to theirs, so it was not only scraping, but cloaking and using deceptive redirects. They were running scripts that scraped content from, by my estimate, 100,000 pages of content from other websites every single day. I use AdBlock and don’t really disable it for anything, so I had to pour over the website’s page source to realize this was a Google AdSense customer. I reported the site to Google and their AdSense dept. was quite receptive. We emailed back and forth for 3-4 days.

    When I reported the site it had over 100,000 pages of scraped content; when Google suspended their Adsense account and removed their website from the search index, it had over 800,000 pages of stolen content and redirected URLs – a week later! It was the biggest victory I’ve ever won over a spammer. Just huge.

    I have another scraper getting on my nerves right now. I tend to act slowly against scrapers because I’m compassionate and like to give people time to take things down on their own, but this guy has been at it for months, scraping my content right into his splog:

    http://blogy7xsw0m8.blogspot.com/2007/10/aol-layoffs.html

    And he ranks OK for it, too, at least he does in Google Blog Search on a search of “anti-aol”. And it really pisses me off.

  • Alyk

    I’ve been using this method for two weeks with no response from Google. The scraper site still posts every one of my posts and every time, without fail, I report it this way.

    I got rocks.

  • Michael Clark

    I submitted a splogger that was scraping my site via the “Ads by Google” link. I got an email back that said I needed to fax the documentation to them, basically file a formal DMCA complaint. I did that. And nothing happened. The splog got stopped when their web host finally turned off the web site, two weeks after I filed a DMCA complaint with them.

  • Alyk

    Just a quick 7-day update:

    I report every stolen post using this method and still no response: the scraper site still uses my content.

  • Jim

    Complaining about copyright only results in you being asked to submit a DMCA notice. I’m trying the AdSense policy option instead, on the basis: “No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant” to complain about an obvious Google Ad farm on this domain: kittann.com (it has lots of sub domains with blogs that scrap content).

  • anonymous bloggr

    Hello!

    I have a splogger stealing entire articles–title and all content word for word.

    It’s clearly a violation, right? I alerted google.

    Problem is, you can’t file a DMCA complaint without giving your full name and address. I am an anonymous blogger.

    I assume the complaint with identifying information is passed on to the person being complained about. In some cases they even post it on chilling effects.

    I blog anonymously for legitimate reasons. Is there any way I can file a complaint and protect my identity???

    Thanks!

  • Michael Clark

    Re: Anonymous Bloggr: You should have your lawyer (legal counsel) file on your behalf. Your lawyer can keep your identity secret. Or you could assign your rights to someone that does not mind being identified with your writings; and have them file the complaint. IANAL.

  • Ben Moreno

    I had this happen a couple times where sites republished my full articles. Some of them had links back to my homepage so i didn’t really mind.

    At the time I was not aware of the no follow rule so now that I know that it does kind of bother me.

    Based what I read it sounds like there is not much you can do about it though.

  • joe gelb

    are these scraper sites linking out or are they grabbing that content and keeping the system closed?

  • Scott

    I had this exact problem and I think this is the most effective method. For one thing, the sites not only steal my content, but running Adsense on an alcohol-themed site is also against TOS apparently. Double whammy for them! Thanks for the tip!

  • medyum

    I recently had a situation in which I found one of my articles copied word for word. I decided to make a post about it and direct the copier to my post. Eventually, he removed the copied content, gave me a permanent link back (not sure of any value in that yet), posted a public apology on his own blog, and sent me a gift certificate for Amazon.com large enough to do some fun shopping with. In the end, I feel like I made out pretty well this time. If we could only be so lucky all the time.

  • Renee

    I have spent too much time on trying to figure out how to prevent it, and what to do about it. In my case, the plagiarism is blatant, and has continued. But then, the thief also puts his own blog (with my articles) on Stumbleupon claiming it’s the best and has claimed it on Technorati. Humorously, he takes a well known newsfeed, which carries my articles, removes original information and voila! We now have a Blues Expert that Google adores.

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