WordPress Plugin: Copyright Feed

A new WordPress plugin by Frank Bueltge (in German) entitled Copyfeed is attempting to revolutionize the way WordPress users protect their feed’s content.

The goal is to not simply help bloggers discover if and where their content is being scraped, but also give them information to help them track down the scraper and, when used in conjunction with plugins such as Antileech, stop the infringement outright.

It is a potentially exciting plugin that could replace a other extensions that are currently available, effectively combining the functionality of at least two indispensable plugins into one, and holds a lot of potential to help WordPress bloggers stop infringement and prevent spam bloggers from taking their content.

How it Works

Copyfeed is something of a swiss army knife when it comes to extending your feed. It has several different functions, many of which are already available.

First, the plugin can add a digital fingerprint to the plugin and provides easy links to search for copies of your work. In that regard, it works a great deal like MaxPower’s Digital Fingerprint Plugin and can serve much of the same purpose.

Second, the plugin adds a customized feed copyright notice, similar to Angsuman’s Feed Copyrighter Plugin. This plugin, however, takes it a step farther making it easier to add your custom copyright information and then and even making it possible to add HTML to the footer.

However, where the plugin goes above and beyond the currently available tools is by adding the ability to include the IP address of the feed reader in the feed itself. This means that, if the feed is scraped, the scraper will also be publishing the IP address of the computer they used to scrape the feed, making it very easy to either block the address, or input it into Antileech for redirection.

Finally, Copyfeed also offers the ability to whitelist certain domains from seeing the above information. This means that it is would be possible to protect your regular feed, but allow BlogBurst or another desired syndication service to bypass that content without having to point them to a separate feed.

It’s a very powerful set of features that, when combined with Antileech, can provide almost total protection of the feed from scrapers and spammers. All of this also says nothing about the other attributes that Copyfeed can add, including comments and related posts, that have nothing to do with content theft preventions.

Some Problems

However, this isn’t to say that the plugin is perfect, there are several issues with it that may stop it, in some cases at least, from being ready for full use.

First off, both the plugin and the site are currently only available in German. Though you can use tools to translate the site, the plugin administration panel rests in the admin area of the WordPress install and can’t be easily viewed by such tools.

Fortunately, Bueltge has promised to include a translated version of the plugin with his next release, along with “more features” but it has not been released as of this writing.

Second, it is uncertain how legitimate readers will feel about having their IP address printed on their feed’s entries. Some, especially those who are unaware of how the Internet works and what an IP address really is, might cite privacy concerns. Others, especially those who use Web-based readers, might be confused as the IP address would not be theirs, but that of the site they read the feeds on.

It would be up to the user of the feed to explain these issues if they chose to use that feature.

Finally, aspects of the plugin, obviously, will not work well with FeedBurner. Though the copyright notice and the digital fingerprint will both work correctly, the IP feature will not. The plugin would just report the IP address of FeedBurner and not the person reusing the feed, making it useless in that case.

However, there are many people that will still likely find the plugin very useful and many more will do so once the plugin has been translated into other languages.

Conclusions

All in all, this plugin is an impressive effort to stop feed scraping and will almost certainly become an essential tool once translations of it are offered. In fact, it is possible with just a few extra features that it could become something of a one-stop shop for battling feed scrapers in WordPress, becoming almost the only plugin needed.

However, until the translated versions are released, all most of us can do is sit and wait in anticipation for the tool to become available.

It seems almost certain that this plugin, for many WordPress users, will be a nice step forward in protecting their feed. Hopefully, once I am able to use it, it will live up to those expectations.

In the meantime, I’d be very interested in hearing comments from those who are using Copyfeed on their sites. I’d love to hear how it is working out for you.

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