It’s pretty frustrating to find out that somebody has copied your work. We’ve all had experience with that kid who sat next to you in class and copied your test answers. Imagine if that kid got a higher test score than you.
To put this in terms of copywriting, imagine if somebody plagiarised your content, and then their page ranked higher on Google than yours. A site that steals content is known as a ‘scraper site’, and Google has launched a new tool to provide a way for website owners to report when it happens.
However, it’s not exactly the saviour from scrapers we were hoping for. The entire tool consists of a form that asks for 3 links; the link to your site with your own content, a link to the scraper site with the scraped content, and the URL for the search results page that displayed the outranking. This is hardly an immediate fix from Google.
While Google does have a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) system in place, going through the process of having plagiarised content removed can be quite time-consuming. And while that’s all being processed by Google, the scraper site is still outranking yours.
Spam or Copyright?
Another problem is that the Scraper Tool was announced by Google’s spam team, meaning that any infringement that you report could be considered a spam offence, not a copyright issue. If they did this, it would save Google a lot of time and virtual paperwork, but the perpetrator would never be prosecuted on grounds of copyright infringement.
And, if you’re wise to Google’s ways, you may suspect that the Scraper Report form isn’t there to protect your content at all. It could just be a way for them to harvest examples of content scraping so that they can improve their ranking system, which places emphasis on original content.
Whatever Google’s intentions with The Scraper Tool, there are thousands of scrapers out there and they’ll still probably never be caught, just like that kid who copied your test paper in school.