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Blog Blight and Copyright

From now on ... I am going to stand up for what's mine!

     
4:11 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am sick to death of competitors (and forums who claim no responsibility) stealing my unique copy and photos and using them without permission to their own advantage.

For the umpteenth time, I just stumbled across a competitors web site using some of my content, so I wrote a stern yet polite e:mail to them asking them to remove it.

I was curious to see if this particular content showed up elsewhere, so I used the first sentence to search on Google. I then found the same competitor had created a blog at blogspot.com and had also published my content there! The second letter was not so polite.

I checked a few more of my more popular pages and found 9 more blogs which have all stolen my content! This only took me 15 minutes! I have a 200 page web site. I guess I know what I will be doing for the next few hours. :(

I am steamed. Really steamed! I have contacted a lawyer and I am going to do whatever I can to rid myself of this blog blight and copyright infringements!

My competitors are scumbags who will stop at nothing to destroy my business which I have spent the better part of 8 years building. They seem to think they can do anything they they want. Well not anymore!

No more polite letters will be sent requesting that my material be removed. Mo more polite responses to their "I'm sooooo sooorry" replies once they know their hands have been caught in MY cookie jar. They are thieves and I shall treat them as such from now on!

I am so angry about this that I may even start up a side business just for the purpose of blowing blog blighters out of the water! THIEVES!

Stay tuned, there are going to be a LOT of DMCA reports, lawyers letters and spam reports being filed this week! I am not going to take this lying down!

5:32 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If they're stealing your content at Blogspot, it's good because you can complain directly to Blogspot. I'd imagine Blogspot would be a lot more eager to shut down freeloading plagiarists than some anonymous web host who's making money from it.
5:49 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if 'net savvy lawyers are starting to offer services to website owners whereby their firm offers to go after any and all copyright infringements of websites' content and images.
5:53 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Well as it turns out in this particular case, the letter worked!

The jack ___ said, "There's no need to bring out the big guns". He has removed my copy from both his site and his blog. But his attitude was so cavalier that I could just scream!

I am not letting this drop. I have found another 7 sites which have stolen my content and this time, I am not going to bother sending warning e:mails. I have found a lawyer in my area who specializes in internet theft and he is going to take it all the way.

I am seething mad and I've had it with these thieves. If everyone just sits back and lets these people get away with it because its too much trouble to file a DMCA report or too expensive to hire a lawyer, then they win.

I won't let anyone get away with a darned thing anymore. No more warning letters, no more Mrs. nice guy. If you steel from me, I will find you and I will take legal action!

I hope everyone else will do the same!

6:14 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sorry to hear about that. Do what you have to do.

To your credit, you must be an awesome writer!

:-)

6:27 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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No, I'm not an awesome writer ... but I suppose the thing for which I can take credit is that I work hard. I hate it that others feel it is their God given right to capitalize on my work!

Assuming my competitors know as much as I, why don't they just sit down and do what I do. WORK for a living!

7:33 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This is why I am very much anti-blog. Back in the pre-blog days, it was hard enough keeping up with scum bags stealing content & images. Blogging has introduced a whole new generation of people who think nothing of stealing other people's intellectual property and even passing it off as their own. It basically encourages them to do it.

I would also love to see some lawyers focus on this area. I would be more than happy to hire one and let him/her take 100% of whatever could be collected from the scum. Once word got out that people were facing stiff fines, it would cut down a LOT.

8:31 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Blogs don't steal content, people do. So it would seem that "blogs" in general shouldn't be your target here.
11:08 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm meeting with the lawyer tomorrow morning. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.
10:52 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Most of the lawyers I dealt with wanted $400 -$750 a piece for DMCA letters. None wanted to open a suit before a DMCA letter was filed and delivered by them. Many said judges almost required this to show fair play on your part and not to waste court time.

Talk is cheap and most people are just blowing steam. Play rough and document what you do. Be aware many lawyers can be as big a thieves as those who steal your content.

12:38 am on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Go get 'em Liane!

I sat down with my law-type-person when DMCA became an option and worked out the following strategy:
* I document, i.e. date copy infringing page(s), note urls, host, whosis, etc.
* I complete a DMCA to applicable parties and forward to her.
* She (her paralegal) prints (boilerplate) cover on her letterhead and sends with DCMA both as email and as registered post to applicable parties.
* She (currently) bills me $107CAD plus postage. I think I paid a couple hundred initially to discuss and generate the boilerplate.

The double whammy of DCMA plus law-type-person letter has worked well to date.

Hope you can come up with an affordable method of zinging the varmints. Rock salt from a shotgun just doesn't work well on the web. Pity.

3:30 am on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"I am so angry about this that I may even start up a side business just for the purpose of blowing blog blighters out of the water! THIEVES!"

Sounds like this might make an interesting and popular Blog!;>)

7:57 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm still in a grumpy mood and it's been 10 hours now.

Another website copied about 6 of my pages - pages that make me money. My site is still in what might be described as a Google sandbox. So of course the thieves outranked me in Google for my own work. Work that takes a couple of days per page to do. I wrote an aggressive email and the pages were removed as soon as the offenders logged into the internet in the morning.

I've since loaded a copyright notice (linked from the copyright at the bottom of each page) explaining exactly what I will do in the way of DMCA notices and complaints to the hosts in the event of future copyright theft, and pointing out that I will no longer email the offender before doing these things.

I'm with you on this one. Next one that does this gets shot out of the sky without any warning and with as many bullets as I can muster. There is no deterrent in asking people not to copy your work otherwise they might get a nasty email!

"Ooooh... shudder - a nasty email? - how will we cope....."

1:31 am on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Okay, I know you're mad. I too have been steaming to find people doing this, even selling my content as a book they claimed to have written. In fact, last week I was contacted by a publisher who had had been told that my content had been written by an author who was pitching them a book! (This individual had actually placed an order with me with a card that got denied. Talk about brass balls.) But the point is to ensure that your content is not used without your permission, no? Putting the copyright notice on every page, as you are doing, helped me (although it helped more to put it near the top). No threats in the copyright notice, though, because threats can bring out the devil in some people. It's like sticking "Hacker Safe" on a site. Mine says "No reproduction of any part without permission."

But beyond that, do you want to spend money on this issue every time you come across it? I would be broke if I did. The only way I would hire a lawyer to deal with this issue would be if the thief were a corporation or the work had actually been published by a press. Then a lawyer would be worth it. Otherwise, all you are doing is giving away your money and your energy. Don't bother with trying to punish these people or "teach them a lesson." If they could learn a lesson, they wouldn't be stealing someone else's writing in the first place. They're ne'er-do-wells. Nothing you do to them is going to change that. So why waste your money and energy? Do what you need to do to get your work off their site and move on. Don't let them sap you like this.

5:17 am on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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You are wrong. If nobody does anything about it, it will simply continue to increase and being a content-thief will yield the same results as being a hard-working author. I clearly think you are wrong and if everybody does something about it (i.e., filing complaints) then we can have a better internet for everyone. I mean better internet, because we would be getting rid of a great number of scrapper websites which are, casually; usually full of Spyware, pop-ups, etc.

However, if we did what you said; guess what? Those thieves would be making money out of what we do. I am totally with the author of this thread and support him by saying that I have done the same in the past and will do it in the future.

5:45 am on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Vordmeister, do you know how these thieves are finding you while in the "sandbox" to steal your content?
6:27 am on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google is not the only SE... duh. They use it to their advantage. Something like - find sandboxed sites and steal their content - that's what I'd do anyway.
5:17 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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When you send an email to the person who has taken your content and they take it down, you HAVE done something about it. When you go on to hire and lawyer and spend money on every violation, then what you're doing is wasting money and time. That's doing something too, but it's not productive. As for punishing people with letters from lawyers, no, that is not going to prevent people from stealing content on the Internet.
5:41 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like this might make an interesting and popular Blog!

Don't think I haven't been giving that very thing some thought! My problem is time, but I think it has good potential as a source for finding ligitimate works and possibly a source for locating offenders.

Naturally, the wording would have to be done very carefully, but all that is required in most cases is the original url, the offending url and a link to the Way Back machine for both.

So why waste your money and energy?

Why? Because if I leave things as is, they will continue to do it!

These are my competitors who are stealing from me and some of them have more backlinks than I do ... so are beating me with my own stuff in the search engines. Now if that doesn't tick a person off, I don't know what does!

No, I am going to stop them one way or another and I don't care how much it costs!

6:01 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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HRoth, you clearly don't understand what is happening: THEFT.
7:40 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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vordmeister writes:
I'm with you on this one. Next one that does this gets shot out of the sky without any warning and with as many bullets as I can muster. There is no deterrent in asking people not to copy your work otherwise they might get a nasty email!

That's fine for the more obvious offenders (as in John Smith of JohnSmith.com claiming your article as his own) but I wouldn't think that a very friendly approach for possibly innocent offenders.

For example, say I hire a freelance writer to do an article. And, they appear to have a good reputation and perhaps have done work for me in the past. I get their article, and perhaps I even run it through Google just to double-check they haven't copied it from anywhere.

If your site is sandboxed, I likely won't find a match.

So, I think I've made a reasonable attempt at verifying the article I paid for was original.

Suddenly, I get a threatening legal letter in the mail. Granted, I should be upset with the writer for causing the situation, and I would be. But, you've also put me on the defensive. Sure, I understand your position, but I also see that you first used a 2x4 when a kind word would have done.

If you send me an eMail first, I could investigate your claim and remove the article if it holds up. Perhaps I'll even link to you and work out some amicable arrangement for both of us.

But, if you start out by threatening, you'll get whatever is required of me by the letter of the law, but nothing more.

My advice is to use good judgement in approaching an infringing site on a case by case basis. Using a blanket approach may not be the best course of action. If there is any chance the site owner might be unknowingly infringing upon your content, such as if you see the infringing work with a byline other than the site owner, then I would suggest approaching the site owner by eMail first, rather than going in with guns blazing.

10:47 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I thought you were meeting with your lawyers on the 8th Liane?
10:55 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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For example, say I hire a freelance writer to do an article. And, they appear to have a good reputation and perhaps have done work for me in the past. I get their article, and perhaps I even run it through Google just to double-check they haven't copied it from anywhere.

If your site is sandboxed, I likely won't find a match.

* One: Google is not 'search'. Searching only via Google is not due diligence. Not only are there other SEs but there are many offline sources that might have been 'copied' without permission.
* Two: A DCMA and/or lawyer's letter is not 'threatening'. It is (US required - and a majority of plagerists -like spammers- are American and/or using American hosts) legal notification of a perceived problem. You are simply expected to respond appropriately - and that may mean denying the alleged infringement.
* Three: If you wrote the content you know for sure. If you paid for the copy good business practice is a contract with (among others) clauses requiring the content to be original and the provider being responsible for infringement costs. But without proof of prior due diligence you may still be held partially liable. And you may have to chase the provider after you have had to make recompense.
* Four: It takes very little time to check an infringement claim against your content - call up both and look. Then take appropriate steps.


But, if you start out by threatening, you'll get whatever is required of me by the letter of the law, but nothing more.

I don't have the time to waste differentiating between the ignorant and the corrupt. All I want is 'the letter of the law'. It is, after all, all that I am entitled. If I wanted an 'arrangement' with you I would have requested one, and I would expect the same in return.

We rarely read about copyright infringement as a cost but it can be very expensive. It can even lead to bankruptcy. Copyright is serious business. It's just that not everyone treats it that way. Cut-and-paste or bot-scraping and republishing is so easy it must be legal, right? WRONG.

10:26 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I did meet with the lawyer on the 8th. Unfortunately, they were thinking one thing and I was stating another. The hunt for the "right" lawyer continues. But have no doubt ... I will find the lawyer I am looking for! I have a friend working on it who knows almost every lawyer in the Caribbean. He will get back to me soon I hope!
12:24 pm on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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oh.. yes, that's might be pretty #*$!ty
2:03 pm on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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" HRoth, you clearly don't understand what is happening: THEFT."

I understand that very well. But I also understand I am in business to make money, not to function as the Department of Justice. I gave examples of how people had stolen my text, sold it as a book, and how someone else had marketed my text as a book to a large publisher. This does not include the numerous would-be competitors who have stolen my text to use on their websites to sell their products. For all these occasions, I have never needed a lawyer or even a DMCA. All I needed was to write an email. I think this qualifies me to have something to say about possible ways to respond to content theft.

But I think it is very important to understand that when you are in business, you are doing it to make a living, not to indulge your fantasies of straightening out ne'er-do-wells and making them fly right. If you start doing that, and hiring a lawyer for every ridiculous thing, you will not be in business long. But hey, maybe your blog is some kind of hobby that you use to indulge your vanity. I suppose that's the very nature of blogging, eh? If so, than hire all the lawyers you want to get all the "revenge" you think you need. But don't pretend that it is a business anymore. It is a vanity site, plain and simple.

11:47 pm on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There are those that swipe a page here and there and there are those that swipe hundreds and thousands at a time.

The first are usually individually not worth the time and cost of tracking and complaining. I chase a couple a month on general principles.

The wholesale thieves are far too costly to ignore. When your site, in whole or major part, is duplicated the following may well occur:
* some amount of traffic and 'site branding' is lost.
* some amount of ad/affiliate 'click revenue' is lost.
* some amount of alternate ad revenue is lost. For example, I provide certain ad pricing varying on, among other things, site traffic.
* SEs commonly list stolen content higher than the original. This often (G is esp. bad) cause the SEs to drop the 'duplicate' original page/site in favour of the thieves. This can be incredibly costly as the previous points losses go through the roof.
Simple survival on the World Wild Web necessitates immediate massive (legal) retaliation.

For the record - I have extensive bot defences (and added more thanks to information/ideas posted during the recent WebmasterWorld battle) and enforce no-cache on the SEs. It keeps the war manageable but far from won.

Weblog software just made it easier for the multitudes to swipe and republish.

Liane is in a particularly volatile field (travel) and some of those folks are especially brazen and nasty. The only solution to such creatures is to stamp hard, early, and often.

1:11 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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People whose sites are not in travel also have problems with theft of content.

My web site is very very tiny compared to your vast site of hundreds of thousands of pages. Even so, I know what a duplicate content penalty is. And I've dealt with people who have downloaded my entire teensy little 500-page site and were selling it as a book by sending them and their webhost emails. I have dealt with an author who was claiming to a publisher that s/he had written my content by sending an email. I have dealt with another publisher that was using my content without my permission by sending an email. No lawyer was involved. No costs, either, outside of the time it took me to write the emails.

I guess if I were really important, I would hire a lawyer to do these things for me. But I'm not important, and my site is not composed of hundreds of thousands of pages, and it's not in travel or some other apparently completely lawless niche crammed with netscum, so I am content to get the same result by sending a mere email. Perhaps there are others out there who are in a situation comparable to mine. Not you, obviously.

11:26 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How to edit your previous post?
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