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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Is rewriting articles from other sites "stealing content"?

 3:18 am on Sep 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Web site A and B provide steps to solve a technical problem. Usually there is only one way to provide those steps. Site A writes a step-by-step article on how to reset a popular MP3 player. Days later B writes an article about the same thing only using different words.

This cycle is repeated constantly with site B reworking the words site A has written and making articles out of them. Is this considered stealing content?



 4:34 am on Sep 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Of course it is. Reworking words is still theft.

If you notice a trend of them stealing articles you have just written and reworking words, I would start filing DMCA's.


 8:23 am on Sep 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Plagiarism would be a better word.


 10:11 am on Sep 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes and no. There are only so many ways you can explain something, when you're detailing certain processes. If you have a hunch someone's ripping off your ideas, you have to get smart and try some different strategies.

Try sticking your new content behind a registration wall. This alone may deter some plagiarists, but you can take it further by tracking more precisely who is reading, and when. If you can narrow it down to one IP you might be able to deliver some select content to them, and catch them in the act with some data poisoning.


 7:37 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would not say it is a stealing....everybody take references for writing.....for example if i want to write on any particular topic..i can surf the net, i can search offline content to get the references and can make the same points in my own word..

At least it will not be a stealing content in the eyes of search engines..


 8:29 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Site A writes a step-by-step article on how to reset a popular MP3 player.

I would say no. Irritating yes, but everybody takes everybody else's good ideas and puts on a fresh coat of paint. The step-by-step is merely factual information. All you have to hang your hat on is presentation and genuine copyright protected content; actual text in an actual article. Is it an article, or factual filler? The more 'factual', the more 'step-by-step', the freer anyone is to use the information and reformat to suit their needs.

If it is a rewrite of an article, then the opinion of lawyer is what you need. The better the rewrite, the closer it is to being 'new'. We do this all the time; in addition to writing our own stuff. If someone does something we like, that we haven't thought of, we 'reverse engineer' and do our best to do a better job and raise the bar. They may know we got the idea from them and followed along. However, our version will not use any exact language that is not generic, and we will not reuse any 'signature phrasing'. It is new, unique - and better (even if we did get the idea from them and wish we had thought of it first).


 10:29 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

As much as I'd hate to admit it. I think that D_Blackwell's opinion is correct. If somebody provides steps on how to add an email signature in Outlook, they wouldn't own those steps. Anybody can write about it and chances are, it would be the exact same thing word for word with the exception of the intro and conclusion.

The irritating thing is that this other site posts pretty much everything I've posted days after I've posted it. You're right, I don't have a leg to stand on.


 10:39 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

What I would do is get creative and try and figure out the other site developers IP address and show different content to that IP. "this site is currently down for maintenance"

If the other site then stops creating almost identical work to yours then victory!

No easy way to find out the IP. You will need to do your detective work.



 11:02 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Interesting topic, hope if we are able to find a way to get rid of this.

mack, I am influenced by your words
What I would do is get creative and try and figure out the other site developers IP address and show different content to that IP.


and find our traffic going to one liner (not more then 10 words yahoo ansers websites).
** some kinda deal between yahoo answers and google, makes sense why google answers was closed and is a history today **

I wished to answer back to both topics I have referred above bu cannot.
Noone can clarify there grief to yahoo / google or bing, unless you have big $$$$$$$$$$$$ :) only coz they are leaders !
(this is what we have learned here)


 11:15 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have tried to locate the offending user's IP to no avail. I'm sure they have a dynamic IP address anyway or could access the net from a different location and see things just the same. Perhaps they are even getting an RSS feed of my articles.

My only recourse for now is to try to work a bit harder on my articles. I try to add as many screenshots and examples as I can to at least make my content better than the other guy's. At least when it gets copied, they have to work to make it as good. I've noticed that many of the articles that are longer than 3 paragraphs tend to not be copied as much.


 11:37 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Anybody can write about it and chances are, it would be the exact same thing word for word with the exception of the intro and conclusion.


Go pick up a '#*$! For Dummies' book. Now look at the copyright statements that are to be found in the first few pages of the book.

By the way, you state that you provide screen grabs and examples as instruction aids. Do your competitors reproduce these too?



 11:58 pm on Sep 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

At least when it gets copied, they have to work to make it as good. I've noticed that many of the articles that are longer than 3 paragraphs tend to not be copied as much.

Spot-on IMO. If the content is well written, it is much harder to rip effectively. The infringer simply cannot bring themselves to drop a beautiful, concise sentence, or a particularly well turned phrase specific to topic. They just can't - and then we catch them - because that is what we are looking for when hunting down ripped content; the stuff that is too tantalizing and tempting 'as written' to cut.

Good point on "longer than 3 paragraphs". Anyone with even minimal skills can rip this, slice and dice, and put up something perfectly acceptable (or better) with no problem. Longer articles require a lot more effort to rip without infringing. Unless skilled enough to write it without even needing the article, most people cannot do this. Not a question of not making the effort (which they usually do not) - they simply don't have the talent. A good writer, with a sufficient canvas, is really hard to rip. It's one of the 'unseen' results that we get paid to achieve.

<edit> Nobody owns any topic and there are innumerable ways to present a thought. Nobody's article is so unique that they own every expression of that content. </edit>


 4:47 pm on Oct 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I see you're already heading in the direction I was going to suggest--which is to go beyond the merely factual. Add advice, commentary, jokes--anything that will make your articles unique.

I don't know if this is still done, but in the days when maps had to be drawn laboriously by cartographers, map makers would carefully introduce harmless but completely incorrect features that they would then include in their copyright filing, so that they could prove that a competitor had stolen their work and not just gone out and collected and displayed the same cartographic information (maps do not just present factual information--they are highly creative and interpretative works). I'm thinking of something similar for you.


 4:21 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

What about recipes then? For most popular dishes there is generally a standard way to make them. Like cheese and macaroni or French onion soup.


 5:37 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

I recently had another webmaster in my niche sign up on my forum and accuse me of copying his content. Shocked, I asked for clarification. It turns out that because I'd written about a subject in the same week that he'd written about the same subject, that he considered me to be plagiarising his cruddy blog.

Infuriated, I laid into him on my forum, as did a good few of my forum members. I demanded he find a single sentence on his blog that was copied on my own website, which of course he couldn't do, because I don't copy...

I do however write about stuff. More often than not, it's the same stuff other people are writing about in my niche. Sometimes, you're going to come out with the same ideas and the same 'feel' as someone else... there are just too many people writing about the same things to be truly unique. How many times do you thing Associated Press articles get recycled and republished with slightly different wording just minutes after they go online? Lets say a story has five facts. You have 10,000 websites all writing about those five facts on the same day... hmmmm, there are only so many ways to extrapolate information from those five facts and write about them. It's not plagiarism...

Whether or not you can prosecute someone for stealing content is up to the lawyers and courts to decide. If it goes that far, you probably have plagiarised something, know it, and should never have let it get to that stage.


 6:03 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)



However, ... accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, ... there may be a basis for copyright protection.

Facts cannot be copyrighted. Circumstances may give facts other protections if they they are not 'common knowledge'.

If one leaves a job, much of their knowledge of 'company facts' could be considered proprietary (owned by the the company) and the use of them actionable. If them ex-employee can use their skills to independently use available information to build a better mouse-trap, then the proprietary details may not provide much protection; which is where non-compete agreements come into play as a partial defense.

If a fact is not publicly available, it falls closer to a 'trade secret', e.g., the methods and techniques of business used by internet people for example. If nobody knows, or only a small group has worked out a scheme - the fact is protected by secrecy. When it gets out, everybody can use it - or work out defenses and protections that kill the value.


 6:27 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Plagiarism would be a better word.

A better word would be plagiarism.



 4:32 pm on Oct 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

I agree with your opinions and if I may add "Cheaters are losers".

IMHO, no one can really call an "idea" 100% their own because in the first place we all learned things from someone else and that some one learned it from another person and so on.

You must have some basis for your ideas or your inspiration from other people's works. I guess what you would call plagiarism is direct copying (word for word) of one's work.

Now, these guys are what I call lazy cheaters. I don't care about them because they won't stay in this "game" for a long time.

I guess it would be better to use the same "idea" and create your own opinion about the subject matter. Giving site references is also a way of giving due credit to where the idea originate.


 8:16 pm on Oct 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

To me the bottom line is almost nothing is new, and almost nothing has not already been said in one form or another. This is all about competition, and we're all subject to it every day. I'd be lying if I said I had never copied things. Years ago when I got into giving certain training courses in companies (I'm a semi-retired business systems consultant) in part I prepared by signing up for, paying for, and attending the same course topic as I planned that several other training companies gave. I also had a lot of material from other resources. I took everything I had and developed my 'own' course from that material as a whole.

On the other hand, back around 1998 I put my courses, developed in Powerpoint, on my site as .pdf files and html files. I charged people if they wanted to download the Powerpoint file of a course. I sold, and still sell, quite a few of them. In the years afterward I have gone into quite a few companies where I noticed that they took what I put out there for free and made their own 'in-house' courses. I even have it pointed out to me by people from time to time (such as an email) that such and such a company copied my courses almost word for word (and sometimes even the graphics) in company "X"'s internal training. I have always been sorta proud that companies did this. To me it shows that the people there who did take the time to take a pdf file and make an internal course out of it apparently liked my material. Several times I mentioned it when I was in a company and the person would say something like "...yeah, it's good stuff". Maybe they were thinking "Uh, oh..." at the time, and a few did ask if I minded, but my position is I put it on the internet and as such I am essentially putting it in the public domain. And several said "That's why we've hired you as our consultant".

I'm not big on copyright. Copyright (not to mention patents), in my opinion, inhibits innovation. Everything is a variation of someone elses work or theme, or a combination of other works / themes. There is no one here, including the OP, who can say they have entirely 'original' works. All of our works are derivative of the works of others. I am so anti-copyright that the footer of each page on my sites clearly state: "This Site is Copy-Free".

One thing that makes me very happy is how many colleges/universities and other types of schools have contacted me about using the content of things I have done and posted online for a book or a course. I always say "Go right ahead". They usually offer to cite the source. I tell them I don't require it, but it would be nice. If they do, although I have never checked to see, that's all the more eyes that see my business and/or web site and/or my name.

These days I see the internet at a point where it's "After the Gold Rush" in a way. Everyone wants to be online and make a living from home. Those of us who started back in the early to mid 1990's had a head start. Competition wasn't anything like it is now. That in and of its self helps we who came early and are still here. I don't care if someone copies from any of my web sites. I work on them every day, 7 days a week. I make my living these days from my web sites. I'm almost 60 years old and I feel I am very lucky that I don't have to get up and leave the house to go to work, and that I can 'work' from anywhere in the world where I can get connected to the internet. I have built a strong reputation for my web sites looking at all aspects from the time it takes a page to load to (what is very rare now) down time. I respond to emails promptly and - Well, I *care* about my sites. There is no way anyone can copy all the content on my sites and 'run me out of business'. There's just too much more to success on the internet than worrying about someone copying/scraping content.

If a person has a good site (or sites), understands that this is not a short term money making 'scheme', perseveres over time, and 'cares', the site(s) will rise in the SERPs and will flutter around the top (it may not *always* be on page 1 of Google, but page 2 works for me, too).

My advice: If someone feels another person is copying their content, rather than complain they should make their site better. They should continue to work on it every day. If someone copies text and includes pictures, and your page didn't have pictures, add some. The *last* thing I would do is get into a pissing match over scraped or copied content.

I will deviate here from my overall opinion here in that if some one is copying text and pictures, particularly if they are copying the text verbatim, I would consider notifying them with a complaint (take screen shots for evidence as a minimum) and if they didn't cease I *might* take it higher up (like contacting their ISP). I've never done that, but I wouldn't consider it totally out of my options.


 3:06 am on Oct 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

On one of my sites I have an OP/ED section .. I hate most blogs. When I read an interesting article, especially one I wish I had written, I often look at what I believe the writer missed.


 5:43 pm on Oct 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Elsmarc, you make some interesting points, but you clearly see what you've written as of value primarily as a way to attract clients--almost as a slow-acting form of viral advertising. You might feel differently if you were earning from it more directly and did not have a related consulting business.


 2:53 am on Oct 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

On one of my sites I have an OP/ED section .. I hate most blogs.

I hated my own blogs. Just didn't get what I wanted from them. Love the OP/ED idea. We have gone the route of converting what would have been initial blog posts into new 'articles' sections on several websites and it has worked out much better for the sites in every respect in each case.

Maybe if a were more of a blog specialist - creating rather than reading. However, on our sites, they are an addition, not the focus, and that was certainly a big part of not reaching potential.


 9:39 am on Oct 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would say it would depend on the % variation form the original content. If you re-write the article from a website and the % variation is more than say 40%, then I think its not a violation.

But, re-writing is a bit of painful job, you can read the content and write one afresh in your own style.

Thank you!


 2:59 pm on Oct 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would say it would depend on the % variation form the original content. If you re-write the article from a website and the % variation is more than say 40%, then I think its not a violation.

No idea where you get such a figure from. Plagiarism also relates to the presentation and structure of content, it's themes, points of argument, line of reasoning, avenue of discussion and more. An article that is completely reworded can still be had up on a charge of plagiarism.



 11:30 pm on Oct 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

One basic question, I hope everyone believes in discovery or invention ?

If someone made a discovery/invention about any widget/product/idea/script/launch/creation/ etc. (anything) and still the discovery is not finished its just under process and awaiting accomplishment.

Why does originating website (SEO riched, not most cases) does not ranks on top for keywords related to same ?

Ranking websites, only copy/paste content from this source websites, although they reword the article, which completely is diffrent from originating source, though means the same (Cow has 2 eyes, Cow has 2 years, etc. means one and same)

We have tested this, hence the question, the originating .COM or any yet .TLD never gets placed on top results for few weeks or months, till the search is on top.. after a few months people neglect what was old. and originating article gets hit (but now not worthy)

Hope we are wrong, but we definetly obeserved the same.. and hence, this is content stealing or not ?


 12:41 pm on Oct 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

In the USA this concept is covered under the "Fair Use" doctrine of Copyright law..

Stanford has a great resource on this.

Hot News apparently raises its head in NY..


 3:40 am on Nov 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I hated my own blogs. Just didn't get what I wanted from them. Love the OP/ED idea.

IMO, the thing about blogs .. or seems to be .. is that blog owners write for the sake of putting a few paragraphs under a certain date heading. When that happens, it's generally pretty bad to mediocre writing.

I can see blogs for news, events, TV series, etc., but that seems to be a small portion of the blogs on the net.

I like using a 'journal' approach for first-person narrative.

The thing about the op/ed, if used properly, makes use of a subject that is already generating interest. I think the real key is in making your spin or position on a subject different enough so that plagiarism doesn't even come to mind.

We have gone the route of converting what would have been initial blog posts into new 'articles' sections on several websites and it has worked out much better for the sites in every respect in each case.

Converting blog posts to new articles is exactly what I did on the 2 sites where I started blogs. Now I don't feel compelled to write for the sake of writing.

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