Hari's Corner

Humour, comics, tech, law, software, reviews, essays, articles and HOWTOs intermingled with random philosophy now and then

I'm a victim of content theft

Filed under: Site management by Hari
Posted on Mon, Jun 11, 2007 at 21:56 IST (last updated: Wed, Sep 26, 2007 @ 13:39 IST)

Update: The offending site seems to have been removed by Blogger. I really appreciate their quick response to my complaint and hope that all cases of content-theft will be dealt with in a similar manner.

I'm really annoyed now. :evil: I just found that my Linux self-hosting HOWTO article has been copied by a blogspot.com splog (I will not bother linking to the offending website). I am particularly enraged by this, because it's an article I took a lot of trouble over and will not have third-party sites profit by it.

I went through the trouble of reporting this infringement to blogger/google and I got an officious, automated response which wanted me to file a formal complaint through fax or by regular post. There was a lot of legal junk in that e-mail which I found hard to wade through with equanimity in my current state of mind.

Let me make one thing clear. I don't have the time or resources to go the legal route and secondly, how on earth do I find out who really stole my content? Most sploggers are anonymous anyway. All I'm asking is that google remove the article from that URL as soon as they can verify that it's a violation of their ToS. Simple, right? I've provided the necessary proof by linking to my own article as well. Do I, as an individual with limited time and money, have to go through so much trouble just to get my due? I am the affected party here and it's infamous to be put through so much hassle just to ensure that my content is protected against blatant copyright violators.

Just consider this: It takes two or three seconds to rip off another's hard work by hitting the Copy and Paste buttons. Why should it take complicated legal procedure to undo that? Why should I spend so much effort drafting a legal document and send it, wasting money on international postal charges and so on, particularly when the anonymous content thief will almost definitely get away with it? It's like being punished for being in the right. Absolutely ridiculous.

I know that the google/blogger staff must be receiving tons of complaints of this nature. Is it really hard for them to verify content theft particularly with the kind of resources they have at hand? Please act against content thieves, google!

10 comment(s)

  1. Hari, do two things...1. Get the creative commons license. That will put yourself on the right side of the law in all cases.2. Give a link to the original article of yours here. I know a few places where internet plagiarism gets the correct ***-whooping they deserve.

    Comment by Sudipta Chatterjee (visitor) on Tue, Jun 12, 2007 @ 00:50 IST #
  2. You know what you COULD do?Issue a DMCA takedown notice. Most hosts are used to these and know they have to act unhesitatingly to remove the offending material.One thing I didn't see in the post, tho - did you email the offender and point out that he's breaking the rules? I had the Linux != Windows article copied without any attribution a while back, caused me some issues (being accused of copying it ;) ) but as soon as I wrote to the blogger in question he apologised for his mistake and added a link right off.Too many people think that content on the Internet is exempt from copyright - they aren't deliberately breaking rules.

    Comment by Dominic (visitor) on Tue, Jun 12, 2007 @ 01:18 IST #
  3. I did a search on some of the other topics he's posted, all seem to be copied from other sites without giving credit where it's due.

    Comment by drew (visitor) on Tue, Jun 12, 2007 @ 01:58 IST #
  4. Sudipta. Actually my content is copyrighted and that should be enough to protect it. For reasons, I have chosen no to use CC license. I'm curious to know - what additional protection that CC give content licensed under it? As for a link, you can get it from technorati "blogs that link here" (that's how I found that fool :P ) and besides the website has been taken down now.> Issue a DMCA takedown notice. Most hosts are used to these and know they have to act unhesitatingly to remove the offending material.Could you let me know how I can do this? I don't live in the US. Besides I would like to avoid legal issues as much as possible because it's such a hassle. Also the offending user is an anonymous account and has blogspot.com address. I could only contact google/blogger in this case as he has left no way to contact him and he has disabled comments except for registered users on his blog.Drew, I suspected that. I seriously hope google that can act fast and remove such blogs.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Tue, Jun 12, 2007 @ 08:44 IST #
  5. Amit agarwal has lot of tips and tricks on dealing with plagiarism. Please check his blog http://labnol.blogspot.com

    Comment by Shrinidhi Hande (visitor) on Tue, Jun 12, 2007 @ 10:15 IST #
  6. Thanks for the link, Shri. :smile: I will explore his blog later.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Tue, Jun 12, 2007 @ 10:58 IST #
  7. glad you got the content taken down. Splogging is annoying. I don't think I would mind someone sharing what I have written, as long as I am acknowledged, and they don't make profit out of it. Making money out of my stuff when I don't really would get my goat. I think perhaps the idea behind the CC license idea is that you can specify it can be shared non-profit and with proper attribution.

    Comment by titanium (visitor) on Wed, Jun 13, 2007 @ 07:38 IST #
  8. Titanium, thanks for your thoughts. :) I guess, the point I was making is that anybody can steal content regardless of the license or copyright notice: people who want to share your work genuinely will always ask permission and will always attribute. People who are out to steal content will always steal iAlso the reason for avoiding a "share-alike" CC license is that, I don't want just anybody on the internet to share my work legally, even if they attribute properly. If somebody wants to use my content, I prefer the old-fashioned way of asking me first, so that I can grant them permission specifically for copying that particular article for that particular website alone. In most cases, why cannot people link to the original article if they want to share knowledge? That's what the WWW is about, isn't it?The real question is, since copying work is so easy and enforcement is sometimes so difficult, no matter which license we use, we have to face it.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Wed, Jun 13, 2007 @ 07:45 IST #
  9. I may be a late commenter on this topic, but I thought that you might want to consider installing Maxpower's Digital Fingerprint plugin, as it will insert whatever unique phrase you want in your post feed, which is usually where these sploggers steal their stuff from. You can then set up a google alert for your phrase with the -site: attribute to exclude your own site from the report.And, I totally agree with taking somebody else's work and passing it off as yours. I don't see why quoting someone isn't okay any more. Heck, I even try to attribute any photos that I either link to or take from an image search (for movie reviews, usually). It really isn't that hard.Of course this indignation is all over a software method of harvesting an rss feed, usually, so its harder to catch them sometimes. Don't give up.

    Comment by MrCorey (visitor) on Mon, Jun 25, 2007 @ 07:10 IST #
  10. MrCorey, thanks for the comment.Unfortunately, in my case, the blogger didn't use the feed to steal the content, so your method wouldn't work. The reason is that I don't publish a full feed but only the topic summary so he had definitely stolen the article off the main page manually.Technology can be very limiting sometimes and it will always be easier to steal content than to create original content, so people will keep doing it as long as there is no serious danger of them being prosecuted.I know that there are plenty of tricks of block spammers and sploggers, but none of them seem to keep them away for long. It's a never-ending battle.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Mon, Jun 25, 2007 @ 10:06 IST #

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