How to trace what’s copied from your blog?

It’s commonly known that people are copying content from our blogs. We typically think of thieves using our RSS feeds to pirate content for their own purposes. But, do you know how many people visit your blog and cut/paste your content from it?

Tynt recently launched Tracer, a service which can log the cut/paste activity on a blog so you can track which content is being taken.

The service goes one step beyond this and also provides you with credit for your writing. When your content is cut from your site, Tracer will add to it a link back to the original article. The goal is to give you your rightful credit. It’s not a perfect system, since all a thief need do is delete the credit reference once they’ve pasted it. But, at least it’s a step in the right direction.

In this example, I copied a paragraph from one of my posts and pasted it into an email. Note the addition of ‘Read more’ and a link back to the article. You can try this for yourself by selecting any paragraph on my site and then pasting into a new email message.

When someone returns to your site from the ‘read more’ reference, the copied content will be highlighted for them in yellow.

I installed Tracer yesterday on my blog Eating Out Loud to see how it worked. When you register with Tynt, you are given a small piece of code to place into your blog. Very easy to install (ironically, just cut and paste the code). :-)

I didn’t expect to see much activity but within hours my Tracer dashboard was beginning to show cut/paste activity. Today is the first day where I can now view the report and I am utterly horrified. In less than 24 hours, 2k words and 2 images had been copied from my site.

In addition to providing you with a report on how much content is copied, the report gives you precise details around what is taken from each article. It will also show you exactly which photos were taken as well. Here is a look at a specific article on my blog and how it had been copied:

I’m a bit dumbfounded this morning and not entirely sure how I will use this information. On the plus side, it shows me that 13 pageviews were generated from people visiting my site from the forced credit references in pasted materials, so it’s working to some degree.

While much of the cut/paste activity may be attributed to people sharing my content, I expect some amount of it is mischievous. The one feature Tracer needs but does not have is the ability to ever so slightly singe the fingertips of would-be thieves. I’m requesting this as a new feature.

Tracer sheds new light on our the copyright plight we all face and is a useful tool for providing credit back to our blogs. While it may be discouraging to see what is occurring (and in such great detail), but it does shed new light on the issue.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this — and, if you install Tracer, please leave a comment to share your experience. I think you’ll find it eye-opening!

Other related resources on the web:
Recipe Attribution — Food Blog Alliance
How to Deal with Copyright Theft — Food Blog Alliance
What to do When Your Content is Taken – Food Blog S’cool
Online Plagiarism Strikes Blog World – Boston Globe
What to do When Someone Steal’s Your Blog’s Content – Problogger

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kat April 15, 2009, 10:42 am

    I'm one of the people who copied content from your blog this morning – copied and emailed your Lentils with Fruit to myself.

    Just FYI. That's how I use most c&p content from food blogs – emailing myself recipes to file away.

  • Allen April 15, 2009, 10:45 am

    That’s good to know! I figured some of the content copying is legit … but the photo copying seems suspect.

    I’m make sure that the finger-tip burning feature is turned off for you :-)

  • Mindy April 15, 2009, 11:30 am

    I recently had a problem with an RSS feed thief, and was able to curb him (at least temporarily). I often copy and paste recipes into a google doc (with a link from where I took it) for future cooking. Sometimes I have to copy a photo that lands in the middle of the recipe just to get the whole recipe in one copy. I then go and delete the photos in my document. I wonder how many people do that with your recipes?

    Can you see who copied and pasted your content through Tracer?

  • Allen April 15, 2009, 11:52 am

    No, Tracer does not provide any info into where the content went.

    Interesting to see how people cut/paste recipes for later use – it makes sense and I don’t mind it (as long as it’s not republished without consent). I’ve only discovered a couple instances where someone else cut/pasted and provided no credit to me.

  • Manggy April 15, 2009, 10:09 pm

    Yeek, just to see how I was, I did a copyscape search and there was one page who took my photos and recipe, but with a tiny bit of attribution at the bottom (i.e., source “here”, the end). I’m not happy with it, but she appears to be harmless and I didn’t want to be a hardass over nothing. Besides, she did follow the letter of the law, just not in the way I wanted, sigh.

    Tried installing Tracer but apparently it doesn’t work right for my hosted blog. My problem has always been the photos– otherwise there is no easy way to tell if someone’s been saving them (worst case would be for them to turn up at a magazine or newspaper without my knowledge), but I don’t want to turn off right-clicking (which can be bypassed anyway).

  • sheryl April 17, 2009, 2:56 am

    It’s interesting that this also tracks photos — which is great. I really don’t want to put watermarks on my photos, but most of the copyright tools only have to do with words (I found some of my posts copied to another site using Copyscape). Now we need a tool that tracks where the photos have been used. Thanks for this post – every little bit helps.

  • Elle April 17, 2009, 10:48 am

    Ok, figured it out. Thanks for letting us all know about this!

  • Lys April 17, 2009, 10:58 am

    What a great post. I, like Kat, oft. copy recipes to a Word Doc with links, etc. for my own use. But I always make note where the recipe comes from should I use it and write about my experiences so I can give proper credit and link luv.

    This program is definitely going to be installed on my blogs, etc. Thanks so much for posting this.

  • kellypea April 17, 2009, 11:59 am

    Ah, Thanks for posting this. Saw your Tweet yesterday and forgot to fave it.

  • Bren April 17, 2009, 3:41 pm

    thanks for the info! this is so necessary… the worse to me is when a company takes the information and says i’ve used their product in a recipe…

  • Megan April 21, 2009, 2:51 pm

    cool info! Thanks for the post!

  • N@k$h@tr@! October 5, 2009, 3:43 pm

    Some lady has been copying images from my blog.
    How do i report this to google?

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