Our Encounter with Plagiarism

Flying Cork Media ≠ Flying Ads Media

The unveiling of Flying Cork’s redesigned site was a big deal for the agency. It was a complete rebrand, involving great dedication and effort for everyone involved. Shortly after the official launch we were shocked to learn that someone stole the entire site in order to profit from our work. And what did they decide to name their agency? Flying Ads Media.

flyingadsmedia.png

The copycat site’s logo

The site wasn’t inspired by, or even based on, our site- it was our site. The entire source of flyingcorkmedia.com was copied along with 100% of the content including copywriting and imagery. Even though the page with our team members was identical, fictional names appeared under our headshots.

flyingadsmedia_team.png

Most of us were shocked, but it is a growing trend. Plagiarism on the web is a rampant problem and some websites solely exist to post scraped content. Luckily, we were able to detect our impersonator.

How it was found

Flying Cork uses various platforms for SEO and analytics data. While tracking content metrics, it was apparent that some pages’ titles included “Flying Ads Media” instead of “Flying Cork.” It was an immediate red flag along with the fact that it was under a separate domain. Other than the imaginary names with our photos, the site was identical to ours. At first, I thought there was a small possibility it was a quirky in-house test site mistakenly set public. A discussion with the Director of Interactive and a quick check of the registry information of flyingadsmedia.com showed us that it was, in fact, an attempt to profit off of all the hours of hard work that went into our agency site.

How to catch scraping of your own work

If you’re placing something in a public setting, there’s always a chance it could be stolen. By its nature, the internet enables anonymity so it’s no surprise that plagiarism is so high when the chance of getting caught is so low.

It was unexpected at Flying Cork, but we now have several measures in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again… We chose to highlight a method below that you can use on your own site.

Custom Alert and Segment in Google Analytics

If someone is stealing your entire site, there’s a good chance that they used all of the source code so the Google tracking code remains intact. If you do not check analytics regularly, a custom alert can be set up to send an email when your content is detected by an unknown hostname.

Under the “Admin” area of your Google Analytics property, go to the “Custom Alerts” section in the third column. Create a new alert entitled “Hostname Mismatch.” The conditions of the alert are the following:

alert_conditions.png

This means that if your tracking code is anywhere other than your site, you will get an automated email. Setting up a custom segment is also useful to isolate which pages set off the alert. To set this up in your own profile, you can click the following link and change flyingcorkmedia.com to your own hostname. Custom Segment

Additionally, there are sites dedicated to detecting scraped content like www.copyscape.com, which looks for copies of individual pages of your site.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Picasso

Picasso, of course, wasn’t referring to photocopying someone else’s artwork and signing your name to it. I’d like to believe he meant to find a style you appreciate and give it your own unique interpretation.

While we wish Flying Ads Media would have used our site for inspiration only, it was a clear case of plagiarism. With the help of the newest Flying Cork team member, we were able to act quickly to shut the site down.

Check back to find out how.

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