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AdSense & copyright infringement

If the publisher is the infringer...

     
11:43 pm on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It has been made official - if you are a publisher running AdSense and you steal someone else's content, you can be suspended from AdSense. It has been a part of the AdSense terms that the publisher should have ownership, but it is now specifically included in the AdSense FAQ.

When a publisher steals your content:

If someone is using your content without permission and is running AdSense on that content, you can file a DMCA with Google [google.com]. You can also use this to see those pages removed from the regular Google index.

You need to follow all instructions they give you, for it to be considered a legal DMCA notice, then send an email to the AdSense team at adsense-support@google.com. Once this is done, Google will investigate remove the pages from the index (usually takes about ten days once they have received it), and will either warn or suspend the publisher. They will also send a copy of the notice to Chilling Effects [chillingeffects.org].

When you are the one publishing the infringed content:

I don't know how many people file DMCA requests, rather than going the "cease and desist" route, but if you are stealing content from someone, consider yourself warned. Victims of copyright infringement may be more likely to react when they see you making a profit off of their content without permission.

If Google receives a DMCA filing with URLs you are running AdSense on, they can (and have done so) suspended publishers from the AdSense program. The very least they will do is place a block, either on those specific pages or that entire domain, to prevent AdSense from showing on those pages, even if the AdSense script is present. They may also suspend the account until the infringing content has been removed. And yes, they have suspended publishers for copyright infringement when a DMCA has been filed.

When you have been falsely accused of copyright infringement as an AdSense publisher:

You do have options. You can file a Counter Notice [google.com] and then contact the AdSense team once you have done so.


I suspect that this must be something the AdSense team is asked about frequently, since it has been included in the FAQ. Many publishers and non-publishers have been anxious to see something spelled out more clearly about publishers who steal content for their own AdSense profit. But it hasn't been clear exactly what to do when the victims wanted to make sure AdSense was aware that

I am wondering how they choose to enforce this - will it be a standard suspension for any infringers - or will there be varying levels of "punishment" depending on who the publisher is and perhaps by how much money each generates.

And things could heat up if they plan to apply this to publishers who take only partial content (a paragraph or two) from a variety of sources and place it on a single page. Will just one person filing a DMCA for a couple of paragraphs being placed on a site be enough to suspend the publisher's account? Or could it fall under "fair use".

This fits in nicely with the People using my content to make Adsense money: Is this Evil? [webmasterworld.com] discussion over the last few days.

You can also read the copyright infringement in the AdSense FAQ here:
[google.com...]

3:56 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Jenstar, this was an EXCELLENT post, thanks.

While some people look upon adsense as an oppurtunity to grow & add good, useful content to their sites, other are getting greedy & shamelessly stealing content from websites.

I am glad to read this post.

donstar.

4:10 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Jenstar,
Thanks for the posting.

It answered in fact many of my questions in regards of websites stealing some of our content.

4:42 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Good news.

I hope to see a lot of these worthless adsense sites getting accounts suspended / terminated.

6:06 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if it is retrospective.

At Pubcon 6 I spoke with Gokul about my incident and asked for this to be explicitly written into the policies and it seems to have happened.

11:22 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What will you do if the idiot sent the Counter Notice to google and signed his name shamelessly?
3:06 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Outstanding news! This will go a long way to defeating the sleaze factor at AdSense. I'm surprised it took Google so long to make enact this policy, given how much these sleazy AdSense sites were hurting their reputation.
4:04 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Jenster, very nice description, thanks for the details.

At what point does 'scraping' become copywright infringement? It links to the origional source, quotes the source verbatim, and credits the source with the content - so could that ever be considered infringement?

4:24 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If it has been republished without permission, even with credit given, it is copyright infringement. But there is a fine line between what is copyright infringement and what can be reprinted under "fair use". It would probably have to be determined with each example. And some of the scrapers are likely written with the "fair use" in mind.

This is one area I am quite interested to see how Google AdSense reacts to. Many of these types of sites did end up getting removed when they did the big "clean-up" back in December.

4:30 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yes, this scraping question bothers me as well. I'm running a site that quotes different sources from around the web on a particular topic (i.e. movies). So I take 1 paragraph or brief summary from the entire review as part of the quote and link to the full article. The resulting display of all of the review snippets is used to paint a clear picture on what people collectively think of it, but certainly isn't used to steal content. The reviews are credited and linked to the full article.

If anything our website creates a substantial market for the reviews. People visiting our website go to reviews that seem to be interesting based on the snippet we pick. If they like the site enough they are sure to visit again. If not, well at least that publisher got ad revenue from the non-return visitors as well.

I don't see how we'd be a useful service without publishing the snippet. Headlines alone can be incredibly deceptive or uninformative.

This surely falls under fair use under the DMCA. The only country in the world that I know of that doesn't even allow snippets or headlines to be used is Scotland. (So yes, we avoid posting Scottish reviews). So I certainly hope that people don't view us as "evil."

5:29 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you are going to write articles in the future and rely on other web content for your research, it's best to limit your search to .gov sites - and still credit your sources.
6:01 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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asp4bunnies: Hard to say because paragraphs, even sentences, can sometimes get pretty long. IMO one (average-sized) sentence is certainly OK. Two sentences is probably OK. Anything beyond that is sort of appropriating the content for yourself, and I rarely go that far on my own site.
6:05 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The only country in the world that I know of that doesn't even allow snippets or headlines to be used is Scotland. (So yes, we avoid posting Scottish reviews).

Who threatened you with what regarding this as I supsect they were merely sabre rattling. Scotland does have copyright laws (along with much of the rest of the world) which are mainly covered by lisc agreements. However, snippets/headlines can be used especially with some newspapers.

Sticky me if private

10:29 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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At what point does 'scraping' become copywright infringement? It links to the origional source, quotes the source verbatim, and credits the source with the content - so could that ever be considered infringement?

I suspect at that point you would only have a case if you could show it was hurting you financially. Not that I like it, I don't want to even be associated with that kind of a site.

My major problem has been with people copying me to help sell their "antiques" on EBay. I don't want to be associated with thier questionable practices.

2:21 am on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So, now, the dilemna. I have now found two sites that have copied nearly every page of my site word for word. One even went so far as to register a similar domain, and use the same font colors, etc. They are both are running Adsense, as am I. Both of these sites appear to not know how to generate traffic (yet), so their traffic is probably super low.

So, I am very tempted to report them, but given the decent revenue I generate from AS myself, I am leery of possible backlash by the owners of these sites. My concerns are in regards to retaliation- through the form of clicking repeatedly on my site ads, etc. to try to get me cancelled as well.

And hence, the dilemna - These sites are both nuisances at best, but very blatantly ripped off my site. They should be punished - AS should definitely cancel their accounts. But, is reporting them worth the risk of possible cancellation myself, as a result of their likely underhanded retaliation?

2:22 am on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So, I am very tempted to report them, but given the decent revenue I generate from AS myself, I am leery of possible backlash by the owners of these sites. My concerns are in regards to retaliation- through the form of clicking repeatedly on my site ads, etc. to try to get me cancelled as well.
I think this is a valid concern.
2:59 am on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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But, is reporting them worth the risk of possible cancellation myself, as a result of their likely underhanded retaliation?

Reporting them won't do any good unless you're filing a DMCA complaint at the same time.

3:16 am on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Right, I was assuming I would follow the procedure outlined by Jenstar above if I did.
8:29 am on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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you could always go the traditional route through their hosts. Getting the cancellation notice from their hosts rather than from AS may not provoke them to adsense blitz you. May not even occur to them.

And, get in touch with G about it too.

10:00 am on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If we delay in reporting them, we are encouraging them. If you report them, it would be good because search engines take these complains seriously & treat them as spam content.

hunderdown

2:19 pm on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Need3Lives,

You said that "My concerns are in regards to retaliation." Seems to me that if you report them, AdSense bans them, and they retaliate, that Google would be VERY likely to listen to you if you told them you were being sabotaged. They might even be able to find that the click saboteurs came from IPs of those content thieves. DON'T let a fear of retaliation stop you from reporting them. Deal with the retaliation if and when it happens. Good luck!

2:26 pm on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Who threatened you with what regarding this as I supsect they were merely sabre rattling. Scotland does have copyright laws (along with much of the rest of the world) which are mainly covered by lisc agreements. However, snippets/headlines can be used especially with some newspapers.

Noone threatened me. I'm basing this on early Internet case law in which a scottish newspaper succesfully sued another newssite for copying the headline wording only and linking to the actual articles using the headline.

Here's the case (Shetland Times vs Willis):
[netlitigation.com...]

I suspect at that point you would only have a case if you could show it was hurting you financially. Not that I like it, I don't want to even be associated with that kind of a site.

Sorry, I'm still not seeing what's wrong about copying a sentence or two to describe the article I'm linking to. This isn't copying the content for "stealing's" sake. It's more along the lines of quoting a source. In any case, Google news does it, yet you associate yourself with Google by being a part of the adsense program...

2:50 pm on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't be surprised to see Google expand its list of forbidden AdSense venues to include automatically-generated directory pages or "sitescraper" pages. That would remove one major incentive for creating sitescraper directories, and, it would help to slow the growth of "content spam" in Google's search index.
3:39 pm on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, I'm still not seeing what's wrong about copying a sentence or two to describe the article I'm linking to.

It depends on the site. This has nothing to do with the law but how I feel. I have no problem with a reputable site copying a line or two with a proper reference or better yet a link like you do. My problem is when it turns up on a scummy looking site and worse yet my Ebay experience has with been people selling fake antiques. Then it hurts my reputation.

I haven't seen your site but it sounds like it would be fine. Do you write any of your own text then include the quotes? That would be better yet as the quote would be in a review of the site. That would definitely be fair use plus it would add value to your site. I don't think it would have to be a full page review, just a line or two.

2:06 am on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a written communication (by fax or regular mail"

they list no fax number on that page...

12:08 pm on June 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As "Freedom" said..
----
"If you are going to write articles in the future and rely on other web content for your research, it's best to limit your search to .gov sites - and still credit your sources. "
-----------

Don't you guys think that this would be a problem..because goverment can also sue you for using their content/ articles..AM i right? or this is taken as acceptable practice...

Thanks for your time..

2:10 pm on June 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Don't you guys think that this would be a problem..because goverment can also sue you for using their content/ articles..AM i right? or this is taken as acceptable practice...

That may vary from government to government, but in the U.S., the federal government's documents are in the public domain. However, a third party's formatting, indexing, etc. of a governtmend document may be protected by copyright. For a discussion of how this works, scroll down to the "Government Documents" section of The Copyright Website's Info page at:

[benedict.com...]

6:28 am on July 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi europeforvisitors,

I was just reviewing the site cancer.gov and it says that they are in public domain and also says "Most of the information on the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Web site has been written by federal government employees. This material is in the public domain and is not subject to copyright restrictions. Therefore, no special permission is required to use it or reproduce it. However, any reproduced material should contain proper acknowledgement of NCI as the originator and the NCI Web site, www.cancer.gov, as the source." but the site cancer.gov says the text is copyrighted.

Where do you think this site falls?

Thanks

7:15 am on July 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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However, any reproduced material should contain proper acknowledgement of NCI as the originator and the NCI Web site, www.cancer.gov, as the source.

To me this means it's not necessary to attribute anything to them whatsoever. If they stated must that would be different.

9:18 am on July 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yes I understand But if you go to cancer.gov, you see that bottom line says "Copyright 2004 American Cancer Society, Inc.
All content and works posted on this website are owned and
copyrighted by the American Cancer Society, Inc. All rights reserved."

So on the one side it says...anybody can copy and on the other side they say that "it is copyrighted"

So What is the final message they want to give? I do not mind crediting them as source...on that very page..
thanks

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