Aloha Friday: Spammers, Scrapers and Thieves, Oh My!
I had a great Aloha Friday question all lined up, but it’s going to have to wait. As I was headed home, I got a call from B. She searched Twitter for #DisneySMMoms and found a tweet from a user named EsterlDode titled "#DisneySMMoms 2010 – A Not-So-Impossible" followed by a URL. Now, she recognized this as the beginning of my latest DisneySMMoms post so she clicked the link wondering what she would get. She was greeted by my webpage. Except it wasn’t my webpage.
EsterlDode had lifted my page, design and all, and put it on their site with some ads hovering on top. Yes, not only did they rip off my content, but they were trying to use my content to make a buck for themselves. Or should I say a rupee. You see, after performing a WHOIS on their site, I found out that they are located in India. The city of Haldia in the province of West Bengal to be exact.
The site claimed that after 8 hours they would take down my content (how gracious, huh?) and provided a link to my original page. This was little consolation. What they did was still a violation of my copyright.
I’ve written about copyright before and it might seem like I often come down against content owners. After all, I oppose the RIAA lawsuits which, based on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) seek damages of $750 – $150,000 per violation. And I have called for shorter copyright terms. Why, then, should I expect copyright protection?
The answer is quite simple. I’m against copyright ownership stretching for 90+ years. This blog post was mere hours old when it was stolen. As for damages, those are being sought against people with no profit motive when the law was originally designed to target people making money off of others’ copyrighted works. These thieves are precisely the kind of people that the DMCA was designed to protect against. They are taking my newly released work, re-publishing it on their site without permission, and putting ads on top to make money from content they don’t own the rights to.
I have no qualms about threatening DMCA lawsuits in cases such as this one or following up those threats if need be. As it stands, I have made initial contact informing them to remove the content immediately. I will continue to monitor their activities to make sure they don’t steal any more posts of mine and have saved screen grabs of the existing offence just in case. In fact, here are the screen grabs (with the taskbar obscured and quality reduced for the web – rest assured I have non-edited, high quality versions locally). Compare these with my real post.
My Aloha Question for the day is: Have you ever had your blog content lifted by a spammer or scraper? If so, what did you do about it?
UPDATE: This morning I checked and the page was still up. (This, despite their claim that it would be removed after 8 hours.) I sent the following e-mail:
You currently have a page on your website ( THEIR URL ) that was completely copied from my site ( http://www.techydad.com/?p=
3490 ). I have not authorized any copying of my content like this and, since my content is copyrighted, this is a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation. Violations like this carry a fine of anywhere between $750 and $150,000 per instance. I have already tried contacting your via your Twitter account asking for the removal of the content and have received no answer. I expect that this page be taken down immediately and no further pages from my site be stolen in such a way. If you do not comply, I will contact my attorney to investigate further action.
I also sent a tweet to GoDaddy, their apparent hosting provider, asking who to contact about copyright violations on hosted websites. I don’t know if it was my actions or their software running slow, but my content is now gone from their site. They still continue grabbing other people’s content and putting it on their site (with ads to earn them money), however. I’m going to keep my eye on them and follow up on any leads I can to shut them down.
UPDATE #2: The scraper e-mailed me back, apologized for any trouble and asked me what I thought of "popular URL shortening service" Adjix.com. He provided a link which displays this post within a frame with their ad on top. I’m thinking about how to respond at this point so I would like to know what you think about it. How would you respond?
Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.