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Well meaning content thieves

9:33 pm on Mar 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This seems to be happening to me more and more. I find a link reference in my stats and track it backward to the source...only to find that it emanates from a page that is a copy of one of my own. It's obvious in these cases that the person who copied one of my pages did this without thinking certain issues through. They laud my site and provide an obvious link back to me. Just the same, they've taken an entire page, lock, stock and barrel and placed it on their site.

Visitors to that site may naturally assume that the content belongs to that site. Worse, if that site's page ever outranks my own (the original), I have to wonder if google will assume that the counterfeit is original and penalize ME.

Should I just live and let live if these guys are copying me "in tribute". Or should I address each and every instance like this?

9:39 pm on Mar 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Personally, I ask them to either link to the article itself or (if it isnt an important article) to provide a link to my site in there article.


3:56 am on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Don't let it go. I've had this happen to me a few times. Be polite but firm, thank them for their interest, if you want. But tell them that they need to link to your article, not take it.
4:49 am on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The two previous posters are far more patient than I would be.

Copying something from another site, let alone an entire page "lock, stock and barrel" is copyright infringement. Plain and simple, it is theft.

It could also cost you your rankings (see the many threads here about hijacked pages). I would demand that they remove the infinging material ASAP and if they don't, contact them and their host with a DMCA.

If they like your material and want to share it with their visitors, they can always write a short summary paragraph and link to your page instead of stealing your work.

5:17 am on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I don't think its so straight forward. Every case is unique.. for example people post things on my forum verbatim from other sites all the time.

The posters many times just don't know the legal implications nor do they understand how it hurts webmasters. ( I of course have rules against it and enforce them )

Sometimes a simple "hey thats not legal friend" with an explanation as to why its wrong is all thats needed.

11:07 am on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I would offer to let them put an introductory paragraph of your article on their site and then a link at the end of it to your site. That way the referring site is acting as an advert for yours while not stealing the entire content, and it will be obvious who the content creator was.


11:25 am on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Its interesting how you use the phrase "well meaning" to describe theft. I would report them to their Host right away, its illegal plain and simple and should be removed.
2:34 pm on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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thanks for all the tips. if this was theft by a scraper-type, i might go straight to the host. i think in this case it is sheer ignorance on the part of the "thief". hopefully a friendly letter (hey, thanks for your interest in the site, but please remove the copied content; however feel free to link to the page) will suffice
5:33 pm on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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We've seen many comments here at WW about the value of sharing articles with other sites.

It seems like you might be on that path by chance rather than choice. It's possible that you can make this situation work rather well for you.

The duplicate content issue is important. Offering an abstract of the article, or overview/mini-article to the other sites might be a way around that. They get a brief version of the whole article in return for a link back to you, ie: "read the whole article at...."

Depending on how many articles have been ...umm.... "appropriated", you might even be able to go back to those sites and offer these overviews as a replacement for the appropriated full article.

In the future, perhaps you could prepare the overviews at the same time you write the main article. Then offer the overview as a standard practice. Just put a note at the end of each article you write with a link to the overview and the criteria for using it.

The advantage here is that you can more or less control the wording of the overview version, thus avoiding more of the duplicate content risk.

[It's a bit off topic, but somewhat related that I had a similar issue with regard to images being "borrowed". My concern was that making an fuss about the image use could really harm me in the community I was attempting to reach.

After some discussion here at WW, my solution was to simply label the images with my domain name and not worry about it. Suddenly my domain name was appearing on a lot of websites. My traffic immediately went up significantly.]

6:02 pm on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Today, I found a university instructor who had copied an entire article from my company's website and included it in his online course materials. The instructor kindly left a link pointing back to the original source, but this verbatim copying feels like a gross misapplication of "fair use."

I used to teach at the university level myself, so I've given the traditional first-day speech, "here's your syllabus. Now let's talk about plagiarism . . ."

I guess I'm just disheartened to see university faculty who openly plagiarize content themselves.

6:31 pm on Mar 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Try doing searches on some of Bretts most famous articles. There are hundreds maybe thousands of copies out there. It is almost impossible to stop this kind of thing specialy if you are well known or your content is well known. Brett would have to hire somebody full time to take care of it and that would probably just put a small dent in the problem.

People are desperate for content. they will do anything. I sent an email go Google the other day complaining about the lack of dup filter on the php online manual. Have you ever tried to find php help all you get is hundreds of copies of the same page and a lot of them have adsense on them. That is a whole other rant.