The alarming rise in content theft

10 July 2020

James Ashton from FindMyUKCasino.com says there is a major issue with content theft and plagiarism and suggests ways affiliates can protect their most valuable asset.

I’m just going to come out and say it – the online gambling affiliate industry has a big problem with content theft and plagiarism and it absolutely must stop.

In the past six months, we have had several instances where other affiliate sites – and in one instance an operator – have directly copied content from our pages and used it on their pages.

I’m not just talking about a handful of words or a couple of sentences that have been slightly amended, I’m talking about hundreds, even thousands, of words that have been copied and pasted.

In one instance, an affiliate plagiarised an entire page – that is 3,000 words of unique content that we spent many hours researching and writing – without changing a single word.

In a market where content is king, and affiliates such as us invest heavily in creating the best content out there – this is hugely damaging and completely unacceptable.

It is theft, and here at FindMyUKCasino.com we treat it as such. We spend a great deal of time monitoring our content and checking for any instances of plagiarism.

I can only assume that other affiliates are experiencing the same, or perhaps webmasters are just not aware that their content is being plagiarised.

Below, I share the steps we take to protect our content and what we do when we identify an instance where our content has been used unlawfully.

1. Use Google Alerts and regular searches to identify plagiarised content
Set up Google Alerts for key phrases, sentences and paragraphs so that if that exact phrase, sentence or paragraph appears on another page in the SERPs, you will be notified.

A more labour intensive, albeit more effective, approach is to do a manual search by typing the same phrases, sentences and paragraphs into Google Search.

The results will then identify all indexed pages where those phrases, sentences and paragraphs occur – if they are not your pages, then the content has been plagiarised.

Use Copyscape to check the extent of plagiarism

Copyscape is great tool as it allows you to compare content across two pages, highlighting any areas of similarity between the two.

Simply enter the URL of your page and the page you believe has stolen your content and it will automatically generate the matches.

See image below:

Of course, when writing about the same subject there are bound to be instances where content is similar but Copyscape allows you to easily identify where it has literally been copied and pasted.

2. Contact the webmaster
If you are feeling kind, you can opt to contact the webmaster and point out that they have plagiarised your content and ask them to remove it.

We use this approach if it is clear the site has used our content as a basis for its page but has not made enough changes for it to be sufficiently different to ours.

We usually give the webmaster five working days to amend the content or remove the page before we escalated the matter to Google and work with the search engine to have the content removed.

3. Contact Google as they take copy theft very seriously
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Google will investigate and de-index a page that it believes contains plagiarised content.

To report content theft to Google, you need to provide evidence through its Search Console tool. Google then carries a manual investigation.

If it agrees that copy has been stolen, it will immediately remove that page from its search results and issue the webmaster with a notice to inform them of their copyright breach.

We have done this on several occasions now and have found the process to be incredibly efficient and effective – Google really does take it seriously.

Stealing content could be end game for affiliates and operators:
While affiliates and operators may not take content theft and plagiarism all that seriously, the consequences of them being found guilty of breaching copyright could be devastating.

In an industry where ranking highly in Google is the difference between success and failure, having a page de-indexed and a black mark placed against your site could be terminal.

It’s worth remembering that a lot of affiliates have content heavy homepages, so if a homepage were to be considered to have breached the DMCA then that would be the page that is de-indexed.

It really is a shame that affiliates and, to a lesser extent, operators are stealing content. At the end of the day, this is theft and should be treated as such.

The good news is that affiliates can take steps to protect themselves and ultimately have pages removed from Google where clear copyright breaches have taken place.

While imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery, it isn’t and unfortunately motioning for content theft is now just another aspect of running an affiliate business.

James Ashton is the head of content at FindMyUKCasino.com, an online casino comparison site that helps UK players find the best online casinos based on their individual preferences.