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How to effortlessly steal content from other websites

Press This

Press This

The latest addition to useful tools in WordPress (and it’s a tool that TypePad does not have) is the Press This bookmarklet, which lets you copy and paste anything from other websites into a post or a page you are writing, simply with the click of a mouse, so to speak. No more laboriously copying and pasting and formatting and HTML-stripping text, it’s all there in one go. Isn’t that great?

The perfect tool?

Please forgive me my strife of sarcasm here. Quite frankly, I do like this tool very much, but I’m afraid that it can too easily be abused, and put into use as a tool for content theft, as discussed in the WordPress support forum, and that, I’m sure, was not the intention:

Blogging is about more than sharing your ideas. It’s about sharing your discoveries: quotes, images, videos, announcements from awesome blogs like this one. And it’s about doing it quickly.

Collect and share bits of the web easier and faster than ever with Press This, the new WordPress bookmarklet.

So it says in the advertising. You can watch the video or read the step by step instructions.

How do you do it?

So how does it work? It’s simple. You just drag the link from next to your editor window and onto your bookmarks toolbar.

Then, when surfing the web and wanting to blog about something (or grab someone else’s content), highlight the text and images in question, click the Press This button on your toolbar, and voila, a new window opens. Not only has the text been copied even photos and videos have been captured.

You can now arrange the text and image to your liking, add some of your comments and even publish this post right away. Couldn’t be easier, could it?

Blogging or scraping?

Is this a good thing? From a blogwriting point of view it is. It makes it so much easier to share things you find on the Internet, that you otherwise would have to create a whole new post about, download and upload images, reformat the text, etc. etc. It does save a lot of work if that’s what you do when blogging. My point of view however is that it makes stealing content just to easy. Note that the original title is preserved in the Press This suggested post title? Well, that can be changed, but that’s not the main issue. Note that the Press This capture contains a link to the original post? So far so good, but that can be easily deleted and no one will know here your great blog post came from. Most honest bloggers will leave that in, but are most bloggers honest? One of the golden rules of blogging is to credit your sources. This tool does that, but it also allows you to erase the source, and that worries me.

Content theft

Seriously, is this tool a threat to your blog? I don’t think so. Serious scrapers will probably use more advanced techniques to grab your content, either straight of your RSS feed or by crawling your website with a spider. They will not use Press This. Simple-minded thieves might use Press This, though. And as much as I love this new tool, and I’ve put it to use already, as much do I think that a word of warning is in place. This tool can be abused, but I hope no one will actually fall for that temptation. One way to overcome this “flaw” would be to make the source link uneditable, albeit I’m not sure how that can be accomplished or coded in the Press This software. Maybe WordPress will include that in a future upgrade of Press This? I hope so.


WordPress News: Press This Bookmarklet

This blog: How to protect your content with CSS

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  1. August 26, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I’m sure you know that I read your blog. I cannot allow myself to “get started” so in response to your post LMAO :P

  2. August 27, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Thanks for the laugh. And I must confess to reading your blog, too, since, on occasion, we cover similar topics. Besides, it’s a good reference site for many of my own posts.

  3. August 27, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Don’t make me come over there and slap you upside your head! ;-) And as a follow up to my response in that thread, did you see the recent Staff response there? =:-O

  4. August 27, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I have seen the staff response
    It speaks for itself.

  5. September 2, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Oh. The trackback to this post that appeared in the official announcement has since disappeared. I wonder why?

  6. September 2, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Are you sure?
    Just to be sure, I already made a screenshot of it some time back, in case I had to make a post about censorship or something.

  7. September 2, 2008 at 11:37 am

    My bad! That’s what I get for not looking before leaping and not keeping my mouth shut about it. (Sorry, sorry.)

  8. jan
    October 8, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Scraper blogs only work in large scale. Large scale only works in full automation. And even that scraper blogs are really very unefficient. Most people i know who used to be in that shady business have left that field, cause it’s not working anymore.
    so the “simple minded” people in your example will fail very soon.

    so at the end i don’t see any potential abuse in the ‘press it’. Google has become very clever in crediting the original source for the content. noone can harm you with ‘press it’.

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