Fighting Content Thieves

Mikey 11 comments
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Fighting Content Thieves

Looking through our stats last night I came across something that appears to be happening more and more these days. As Rusty Lime becomes more popular little annoyances like this are becoming more frequent. But I think I know a way to discourage it.

I am talking about content theft. Our writers put a lot of effort into some of their articles so it's annoying to see the article duplicated on another blog without a link back to us and without any credit given to the original author.

So getting back to my 'solution'. The one thing I noticed in common with most of the thieves is they have copied the source code of the article. That means any custom classes we use will come along for the ride. Anyone who knows anything about CSS will know where I am heading with this.

The idea is that the beginning of every article will start with an image hidden away with CSS. Note the CSS can not be inline, it must be in the style sheet.


I'm a content thief

The CSS:

.thief { display:none; }

For our non-tech savvy audience, what's happening here is the image will be invisible on this site because we have specified a class to hide it (display:none). But when this HTML is pasted into another site the image will be in plain view, because they don't have the 'thief' class in their style sheet to hide it. You can use any image you like of course. I would suggest making something with the words "I stole this article from Rusty Lime" - of course replace with your own blog name. Or you could do a lot worse. Goatse anyone?

You can also take it a step further and place a link to your blog on the image.

I'm a content thief

There is of course a one draw back with this method although very rare, and that is anyone on your site that disables CSS in the web browser will see the image in plain site. That as mentioned is exceptionally rare though.

Update: Jonathan Bailey from Plagiarism Today noted below that this idea might not be good if your blogs RSS feed displays images, which is a very valid point. Rusty Lime does not have images come through our RSS feeds so while it's OK for us, other bloggers should take caution.

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Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 09:01 AM

I thought this was going to be lame but it's not bad. You can't prevent content theft but this is a nice 'fuck you' to the thieves.

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Nate >.>

Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 09:49 AM

Nice one, I like it, I like it!


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Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 10:51 AM

That's not bad at all.

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Pot Kettle Black

Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 01:38 PM

Most of the articles/stories on Rusty Lime are regurgitated from other sites anyway, Liveleak, Youtube, etc etc.

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Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 01:44 PM response to this comment by Pot Kettle Black. ...says the twit on his first visit.

The guys here occasionally link to amusing and interesting videos on Youtube like you said, but they don't copy/paste/steal other peoples articles.

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Joe Marco

Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 04:42 PM response to this comment by Pot Kettle Black. Most? I beg your pardon.

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Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 04:50 PM response to this comment by Pot Kettle Black. That can be said of any news organization, however I've noticed RL does a great job of linking to their original source if there is one. Apparently you never noticed how many editorials are done on this site either.

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Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 06:51 PM response to this comment by Pot Kettle Black. Excuse me, but I have never stolen an article from Liveleak or Youtube.

I only steal articles from Slashdot, thank you very much...

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Tuesday 10th June 2008 | 07:43 PM

I like it. Cunning and daring. You can use an absolute URL to an image on another server too - say something smutty.

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Jonathan Bailey

Thursday 12th June 2008 | 02:53 AM

Right off the bat, I want to say that I like this idea, it is simple and potentially effective. I just have one problem. When viewing such material in an RSS reader, the reader may not have the ability to interpret CSS. I know many online readers as well as many software ones do not have that capability. As such, those people will see the image though they are just reading the article.

If one does not put that image in the RSS, then it won't do anything against the RSS scrapers, which will prevent it from being shown on the majority of bad guy's sites.

Still, I like the idea in principle and wonder if there is a way to make it work.

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Thursday 12th June 2008 | 08:25 AM response to this comment by Jonathan Bailey. Thanks for the compliment Jonathan. I had not even considered the RSS issue so thanks for raising it.

That said images can be disabled in the RSS (which they are for Rusty Lime) but it's something I should have mentioned in the article.

Nice to have you drop by with some feedback.


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