Stop, Thief! How To Deter People From Copying Your Blog Content


The discussion started on this blog with my “Dear Plagiarist” post, continued, rather heatedly, on Facebook, then was picked up by  Sue Lyon Jones’ article on plagiarism on Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto’s Teaching Village blog where she explained some of the basics of the law related to this issue.

Today, Sue picks up the topic again and in a special guest post for TEFL Matters  continues with advice on how to avoid having your content plagiarised.

It’s great to have Sue right here in my TEFL Matters ‘front parlour’!!! 

Stop, Thief!  How To Deter People From Copying Your Blog Content

by Sue Lyons Jones

In Marisa Constantinides’s passionate and heartfelt post, “Dear Plagiarist“, she gives vent to the frustration, hurt and disappointment that many of us feel when others copy our work without asking first, or seek to pass it off as something that they have created themselves. In this post, I’m going to share a tip that you can use to make it more difficult for people to copy work you publish on your blog, by customising your feed so that it only publishes the first paragraph or two of your posts, rather than complete articles.

image credit: Petr Kratochvil

image credit: Petr Kratochvil

What are the benefits of publishing snippets rather than full feeds?

Here are three good reasons why publishing full RSS feeds is worth a rethink, if it is something that you currently do:

1) Publishing full feeds makes it really easy for people to copy your content

Back in the days when I was a new kid on the blog, I used to publish my posts as full feeds; but then I began to notice that most of the people who were scraping my content and using it to make money were doing so via my blog feed, rather than copying it directly from pages on my site. This prompted me to change the settings for my blog feed, so that it only displayed the first paragraph or two from my posts. This very quickly reduced the volume of copying to a trickle, rather than a flood.

2) Feeds often leave off the conditions attached to sharing your work

Blog feeds can publish your posts out of context, with no indication as to the terms of use. Many bloggers display licensing conditions for reusing posts in a sidebar or widget rather than in the main body of posts, and these don’t always get picked up by blog feeds. In the absence of a clear indication of how your posts can be reused, people who copy and republish your work from a feed may assume that the article can be re-published in ways that aren’t permitted by the licence, or even that you have placed your work in the public domain!

3) Publishing snippets instead of full feeds can increase traffic to your site

Protecting content aside, publishing a ‘teaser’ that gives a flavour of what your post is about instead of the complete article encourages people to visit your site and read your posts, rather than reading them in their mail box or Google reader.

How to edit and customise your blog feed

Google feedburner is one of the most popular tools for burning blog feeds, and so I’m going to use it as an example to show you how you can adjust your blog feed so that it only sends out a short snippet from your posts, rather than the full article.

Step 1:

Log into Google, and go to If you have already set up a feed for a blog with Google feedburner, the page should automatically re-direct you to the dashboard for your feeds. Click on the link for the blog feed you want to edit to view the settings.

Step 2:

Select the optimise tab in your dashboard, and then scroll down the page and click on the summary burner link at the bottom left of the page.

Google Feedburner dashboard

Step 3:

Type in the maximum length that you want your summary to be (around 250-450 words ought to be enough in most cases) and then click the save button. Next time you post something to your blog, your feed should only give subscribers a brief extract from your post, rather than the complete article.

Google Feedburner dashboard

Note that this may not work quite so well if you have widgets or share buttons near the top of your pages, but moving your page elements around will generally fix things if your feed begins churning out .html code, instead of snippets from your posts.

Will this stop people copying my content?

Perhaps not, as someone who is really determined to copy your content might look for another way to do so. What it will do though is weed out some of the scrapers who are too lazy to write their own posts and who look to your feed as an easy way of providing them with free content to pad out their sites; which should go some way towards reducing how much of your content gets lifted and republished without your permission.

Sue Lyon-Jones



Sue Lyon-Jones is a freelance ELT materials developer, ESOL tutor and teaching with ICT consultant based in the UK. She publishes and writes the content for the free English lessons and ELT resources site, ESOL Courses ( Her current areas of interest include teaching with web based technologies, interactive materials development, educational games, mobile learning, and Dogme ELT.  Sue is @esolcourses on Twitter.

This article by Sue Lyon-Jones originally appeared as a guest post on TEFL Matters, by Marisa Constantinides, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 Licence.   If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain all credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.

Other articles in this Series:

Copyright, Plagiarism, and Digital Literacy –  Teaching Village


Related Blog Posts


Ιστολόγια & Λογοκλοπία – On Blogs & Plagiarism by Marisa Constantinides (in Greek but you can use the google translate widget)

Dear Plagiarist by Marisa Constantinides on TEFL Matters

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8 replies

  1. Sue’s guest post about copyright violation on Teaching Village set a record for the most visits in a 24 hour period, AND the most stolen. Ironic, right? With Sue’s help, I’ve changed my feed to snippets and will now add a copyright statement with a hyperlink back to the original post. I’m a bit sad to have to stop feeding full posts (I like getting full posts in my own mailbox) but it has already made a difference.

    Thanks, Marisa, for starting the conversation. And thanks, Sue, for being on our side and being willing to share your experience and expertise with us!

    • Ironic, indeed!!! Mine received a record number of hits in a day too – which must mean something!

      It must mean that people want to know more about it, unless it’s all plagiarists having a field day! 🙂

      Thank you for visiting and commenting, dear Barbara.


  2. I’m very happy to share what I know Barbara, and I’m glad you found it helpful. I’d also like to thank Marisa for starting the ball rolling and featuring this important topic on her blog, and for inviting me into her digital parlour to join in with the conversation and tuck into the virtual tea and biscuits 🙂

    Like you, Barbara, I was a bit sad to kill my full feed but the wired world is a very different place than it was even just a few years ago, and I do sometimes wonder it the blog feed has outlived its usefulness as a tool for sharing online content. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I mainly use content curation tools such as, and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to keep up with what is going on in the blogosphere.


    • Hi Sue,

      I must thank you for writing this great post and sharing those tips. As a result of this and other posts which I have been sharing. I have noticed that some people are doing less ‘scraping’ and are beginning to attribute more properly – which is what you, Barbara, myself and most people in our PLN really want, don’t we!

      I’m glad you mentioned relying less on your RSS feed because I have been going off it myself of late. I figure with so little time available, what is worth reaching me will eventually hit Twitter or Summify or and, I do still read quite a few new blog posts daily.

      But for people who are not so well connected, an RSS feed is still a good tool, I think.

      Thank you again for your most excellent guest post and since you now know where the tea and biscuits are, I hope you will drop in again soon!!!


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