Who Really Wrote the Blog Posts You Read?

Copyright infringement is far more prevalent than I thought.

This morning, while going through my weekly routine of checking out who’s been visiting my site, I found myself on another site that featured an article I’d written under another blogger’s byline.

My article, written back in March, can be found here: https://www.aneclecticmind.com/2007/03/29/how-many-sites-link-to-yours/. It’s a relatively short piece that includes a screenshot. The content thief not only stole every single word of the article, but he also stole the screenshot, which clearly shows my domain name in the Google results. Yet he didn’t even have the courtesy to mention that I’d written the article or link back to my site.

And the article included his byline, as if he’d written it.

I’m sure you can understand my anger at this. As stated in my © page:

The contents of this site are copyright ©1997-2007 by Maria Langer (except where otherwise indicated).

This Web site’s content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

I have sent a takedown notice to him via e-mail. I copied the folks at Plagiarism Today, Google AdSense (since he is violating their terms of service), MyBlogLog (which he is a member of), his ISP, and my lawyer.

But this got me wondering: how much of the other content on his site is stolen? And how much of the content on sites we all read is stolen from someone else’s site?

Has your work been stolen and passed off as someone else’s? If so, please use the Comments link or form to tell us about it. Please don’t include the Web URL of the offending party — I don’t think thieves deserve free publicity.

8:30 AM Update: I received an apology from the thief. He claims he didn’t know it was copyrighted. (That still doesn’t explain why he copied it word-for-word and put his byline on it. I wonder if he went through school like that, too.) I sent him links to Plagiarism Today and Creative Commons, hoping to educate him.

5 thoughts on “Who Really Wrote the Blog Posts You Read?

  1. Thanks for this Maria, I think that many of us out here in the blogasphere are concerned about this, but it’s not something we disucss much. We need to SHOUT it OUT and make copyright thieves know that if they choose to steal content, it will not go unnoticed! I say “Blacklist em baby!!”

  2. Here is how to catch people that steal your content.

    In your RSS feed footer put a copyright with your name and a link back to your site.

    Then set-up a Google Alert on your name and another one on your URL.

    Whenever a scraper steals your content you will know as soon as Google finds it.

    This works well for me.

    BeachBum

  3. Thanks for sharing this, BeachBum. I’ve been doing this for a while and have caught more than a few copyright infringers. In fact, I found two Web sites that were illegally distributing eBook versions of two of my books!

    This particular thief wasn’t so high-tech. He made a personal visit to my site where he found the article, then did a copy and paste to get it into his site. He even copied the screenshot, which had my domain name written all over it. The only reason I discovered it was because he’s a MyBlogLog member and I periodically visit the sites of members who stop by here — usually to see if I can find other sites to follow. So he basically left footprints back to his site for me to follow. I don’t think the post was online more than 2 hours before I found it.

  4. Given my allegedly high level of technical knowledge, I should be able to figure out what BeachBum is describing, but I’m having trouble.

    Maria, you use Feedburner – as do I (although my site is WP.com hosted so people don’t have to use my FB feed, they can also get the default WP.com one). I see you have CC details in your feed and origlink entries in the feed too, etc. – is that what BeachBum means? Or have you done something specific?

    I have found my content linked on splogs before and generally don’t know whether I would get very far telling them to remove the content. They do often link back to me. Once or twice I’ve left comments on blogs that have re-used my content and they have apologised and taken it down. It’s a real problem, I agree.

  5. First of all, I use a WordPress plugin to insert a copyright notice at the end of each feed message. The plugin is called Angsuman’s Feed Copyrighter and it can be downloaded from http://blog.taragana.com/index.php/archive/wordpress-plugins-provided-by-taraganacom/

    It’s supposed to deter people from scraping your feed, but it really doesn’t work very well. It does, however, clearly identify your content as yours if it appears on another site.

    But what IS helpful for finding content theft is setting up Google Alerts for your name, your blog URL (or domain name) or other text that only appears in your blog posts.

    A lot of people just throw up their hands and say “it happens all the time, I can’t do anything about it.” But as you observed, sometimes just posting a comment can get the content removed. I was successful in dealing with this idiot today, but that’s because he really was pretty clueless and he does care that he screwed up. Most scrapers know what they’re doing and don’t give a hoot about copyright infringement.

    I’ve begun notifying Google’s AdSense people about splogs that use AdSense to earn revenue. Splogging is against Google’s terms of service. I need to write up an article with complete instructions on how to do this to get others to do it, too. I was actually thinking of creating an online form that you just paste links into and click a send button. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? I squeak a lot when it comes to copyright infringement.

    Anyway, I hope this helps.

What do you think?