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Copyright infringements in Yahoo groups and the like

Find your content copied on Yahoo groups or MSN?



1:29 am on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Not sure where to begin with this -- but I run a popular craft site, where I offer instructions and sometimes step-by-step photos to show someone how to do a particular craft.

Well - the site is usually number one in google for the search terms and a number of other competitive terms.

I get between 2 and 3,000 uniques a day, depending on the season. And with the growth in popularity, I've found, comes an increase in copyright theft.

For me, most of the problem is confined to Yahoo and MSN type groups, where my content is reproduced word for word, often drawing images from my server, or alternatively, using my images with a rename and posting to their own server.

There's a seasonal cycle to my site -- with peaks in traffic coordinating with Easter, Halloween, Christmas etc. At those same times, I find my stuff pinched and reproduced all over the craft groups in Yahoo and MSN.

Sometimes it's a one off post from a member. But more recently, it's multiple articles ripped off by the admin of these groups, complete with images -- but my name and the site name (let alone an active link) are cut out.

The last forum I took on about this issue also copied articles from about a dozen other well-known sites in this category, so I emailed those sites with a heads-up. About three (surprisingly few) replied to me -- but, in told, about 50 articles were ripped down off that forum within a week, so I'm assuming that complaints were made to the forum admin.

Now I've come across an MSN forum that has received my complaints but, so far, is refusing to remove my material. They are stealing my images as well, so I have replaced the images with a nice little note saying "This image and the accompanying article stolen from..." etc.

What else can I do?

I work hard to produce material for my site. I design original crafts, take step by step photos to reproduce directions, write the instructions, code the material, post it on the site, work to SEO the site etc....and then some nimrod comes and takes whatever without so much as a please and thank you despite copyright notices all over.

Please advise....

[edited by: engine at 8:26 am (utc) on Oct. 21, 2003]
[edit reason] specifics [/edit]


4:16 am on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You can 1.) feel flattered at your popularity, 2.) you can spend endless hours of your life you'll never get back tracking stolen content, or 3.) in Yahoo's case you might memorize Yahoo's copyright policy [docs.yahoo.com] and start getting up close and personal with your so-called 'nimrod' fan base. I would assume MSN has similar guidelines.

I wrote a program that automatically generates DMCA notices based on form input, sends out cc's and bcc's, and saves them to a database. It helped speed up the process so I wasted fewer hours of my life than I normally would.

When all else fails, I resort to an attorney, four letter words, and (sometimes) brute force intimidation.


8:25 am on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I sympathise with your plight. You shouldn't need to resort to legal action if the material is held on MSN or Yahoo servers. You should approach it with the route suggested by idiotgirl.

Certainly, you should feel flattered.


1:49 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Idiotgirl's approach should work fine. One way that I have gotten people's attention is by having a lawyer send a standard "nasty letter" mentioning things like cease & desist, damages, filing suit, etc. If you have a lawyer buddy, maybe he'll do it for free. Even your real attorney should do this kind of stuff for minimal billing. Just make it clear to your attorney that initially all you want is a letter - this should avoid a bill for time spent researching internet copyright law, analyzing the offender's content, etc.

In my experience, a letter on a law firm's stationery will almost always get escalated to high level management, and responsible firms will correct any problems rapidly. Even sleazy firms tend to pay closer attention.


2:28 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for your support!

I finally found the MSN copyright infringement page, and I will email their agent with all the details today.

If that fails, then I guess it's time for four letter words and a lawyer.

Chasing down this stuff is time consuming - but I've found that theft like this tends to have a ripple effect, as people will see my stuff on this msn group, note the lack of copyright notice or name, and reprint it again. Then, when I go after the second instance, they point back and say well, I didn't know you were the author, I got it here...


I'll let you guys know the outcome of this, as it unfolds. Thanks, again!


3:09 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Kimkia, in certain "niche groups" it's very common thing.

On one such "niche-type" list I've been on for 4 years (was Yahoo, now Topica - check them, too) the list-mod sends out reports from various sources on current market trends and industry specific topics - pertinent articles of interest - and just does it by email to the group without any sign of who or where the original source was.

She's a great lady and it's a great group, and I'm 100% sure she has no idea it's an infringement of any kind, nor do any others in the group even give it a second thought.

There's a "slippery slope" of how much Yahoo or MSN is knowledgeable of or accountable for what happens within the groups they host; it might not be quite as simple as just something reprinted on an individual's website.

Unfortunately, it's very aggravating and very widespread - and most of the people in the sector I'm referring to are homebased cottage industry type people who primarily market at shows and fairs who have mostly home-made websites and they really don't know.


3:45 am on Oct 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Kimkia, I had this problem with MSN, too. MSN refused to remove my article from its message board until I sent a DMCA complaint. Then the article was removed right away. (No lawyer involved.)

I'm also having a problem now with an article of mine that was emailed to a newsletter list (without my knowledge) via Yahoo Groups. I learned about this because my article is still posted in the newsletter's archive (not on Yahoo's site). I've written to the offenders and have received no reply (except an email from a tech contact person who informed me that I have no rights). The people who run this site are located in several different countries so it may be an ongoing headache, although I intend to persist and complain to Yahoo if necessary (whether that will do any good, I don't know).

This kind of thing happens so often. Very depressing.


6:14 pm on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Whoo-oo! Success!

I followed the advice from people here and filed a complaint with the MSN copyright infringement agent. No reply as yet. But last night I emailed the admins of the forum, and told them that a complaint with MSN had been filed, and that I would not allow them to continue with this theft of five of my original articles.

This morning, the pages are gone, although they didn't bother to reply to me.

As Marcia said, in this sort of niche area, members of craft groups (and sometimes the admins) often have no idea they are breaking the law, let alone costing someone money in bandwidth costs or reduced traffic. But I know the admins of this group knew what they were doing, and the admins of the previous forum that I took on were also well aware of the issues. (Thanks for the tip about Topica, Marcia - I'll keep an eye out for that!)

Fairla - best of luck with your continuing headache. Please let us know if you are successful. I believe that complaints to Yahoo ARE taken seriously. Recently, several craft groups that I know of were warned by Yahoo about copyright issues, which resulted in some images and files being removed. In one case, the admin decided to erase everything and begin with a new slate.

Yesterday, I found that Google has a DMCA policy page, and that you can pursue a copyright complaint through them. My understanding is that if a search results page includes a link to a site page that has your stolen material on it, then you can follow this up with a DMCA complaint to Google.

That oughta make people sit up and take notice! It was going to be my next step...


6:42 pm on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In my experience Yahoo has responded positively and fairly quickly, but I don't know about MSN. Personally, I've had excellent results with Yahoo.

A greater good would be served by the Yahoo and MSN forum mods if they made occasional announcements to participants to make sure none of their postings contain material that may infringe on the copyrights of others, and even include such a statement in their welcome notices. <- duh! Simply removing the current material they got "tagged" for doesn't offer any kind of solution in the long run or communicate anything about the problem to the actual forum participants.

As is, it always seems to be "news" to the people posting infringing material, and is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game for the authors and copyright holders to constantly monitor their material and educate and re-educate those who COULD have been educated pre-emptively. It's sort of like house-breaking the neighbor's dog(s) for them, and certainly less rewarding for you.


7:53 pm on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, idiotgirl, you're spot on. I'm becoming more pro-active about copyright, but it's time consuming, and I just know that I'm only reaching the tip of the iceberg in finding stolen stuff.

Some group admins are beginning to post weekly reminders of copyright issues, especially on Yahoo, but they're in the minority. Most continue to blissfully ignore it all and claim, like you said, that it's "news" to them that they're breaking the law.


5:15 am on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Kimkia, I'm glad you were successful! I did a little more sleuthing about my own situation and found that this group has two archives, one on its own site and one in Yahoo Groups. I faxed a complaint to Yahoo last night and by this afternoon my article had been removed from Yahoo -- very impressive.

It's still on the other website. I did ask Yahoo to do something about that (since it says right on it that it was distributed through Yahoo!) but whether Yahoo will care about what's not on its own site, I don't know.

My next step will be to get it taken out of the Google archive, and there's a lot more I can do. These people have plagiarized other articles, and I'll report every one to the rightful copyright owners if I have to. I wish these arrogant thieves didn't force me to do these things; I don't like causing trouble for anyone, but I've found that most of the time it is necessary to twist their arms because they just won't do the right thing unless forced.


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