I got an email the other day from Paul Schlegal from Swindles.org informing me that he’d seen a site using my content. I took a look, and sure enough, someone had copied my entire website to their domain. Obviously, I wasn’t at all happy about this.
Then I did some more checking and got really steamed. The copycat left all my ad code intact, so I was able to see that there were other websites doing this as well, all owned by the same person. So far, I’m up to 8 websites that I know about where this had been done. I’ve spent a lot of time this past week fighting these sites off. It hasn’t been easy. The copycat has ignored my emails, so simple takedown requests did nothing.
First of all, I thought I could do my usual look up on his nameservers and find out who his host was. Apparently, that doesn’t always work, as he uses some sort of forwarding and the nameservers that show aren’t the ones of his hosting company. However, the company was able to get me the IP address, which gave me the information needed to at least block him from my site. It’s a Russian IP address and by itself was about 10% of my bandwidth usage! I checked some of my other high visit IP addresses, and found a few more from Russia.
Now, I’m not usually into blocking entire countries, but I made an exception in this case. My site isn’t exactly targeted to a Russian audience, and while some of the information is relevant to anyone wanting to work online, most of the work at home jobs I list prefer U.S. residents.
I gave it about two days’ thought, and then blocked the Russian Federation through my CloudFlare account. That turned out to be really easy. You just go into the Threat Control panel and add it as a custom rule. CloudFlare can block individual IP addresses, blocks of IP addresses, or entire countries. It’s easy, even with their free account. It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned CloudFlare, but that’s because it works so easily that I hardly think about them. Some hosting companies, such as Host Gator, even allow you to activate CloudFlare through cPanel.
Now, it’s possible that I will decide at some point that this was an overreaction, but I doubt it. I don’t get a lot of traffic from Russia, and I obviously won’t miss this guy. I know full well that IP blocking has limited benefits, as people can use proxies, but hopefully I’ve made things a bit harder for this copycat. I would have far rather gotten his hosting company to take him down, but that option didn’t work out this time.
The other thing I did was to make it so that only authorized websites earn money from AdSense clicks on my account. This ensures I won’t get in trouble if someone copies my site and then drives traffic through methods that will get me in trouble with Google. It also makes it really easy to see the copycat sites that haven’t changed out the ad code, as they all show up in my account. If they ever switch out the code for their own, I won’t find the sites so easily, but for now it has made my life much easier.
It’s the internet. I know I can’t stop all copycats from taking my content. But when they take things far enough it becomes worth the time and effort to protect my business, my reputation and my income. I really hope this finishes it for a time. I’d rather do more productive things. Some of the sites are down now, but others seem to still be working – this stuff gets tough to fix.