Before the digital age, content theft was a labor-intensive business. Then computers enabled theft by cut-and-paste. Today, the content theft business is almost entirely automated – and probably happening on your website right now.
Welcome to the age of theft by bot.
WHAT IS A BOT?
Photo by Peyri Herrera on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.
Bots are small, automated programs that come in “good” and “bad” forms. Good bots are deployed by web indexers like Google and Bing, and are an essential component of online business. Bad bots, on the other hand, are designed to seek out and steal specific content by “scraping” it from sites and transmitting it to a third party. Why spend time and money creating your own content when you can steal someone else’s for free?
CONTENT THEFT IS JUST THE BEGINNING
Content that’s stolen and repackaged for sale by a third party hurts branding, SEO results (your content is no longer seen as unique by search engines) and customer trust. An example of a company that can’t have its branding hurt by bad bots is Whitepages.com, where Andy Hibbler, Vice President of Brand Advertising and Partnerships promises his clients the company will “serve honest impressions.”
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