Monday, 26 December 2005

Plagiarism sucks, and Om Malik's weblog was apparently being copied verbatim, images and all, and repurposed sans-attribution on another site that was serving up ads and (potentially) making money. I've had this happen to me a few times in the past year or so, and in some cases found the only way to fight it was to quote the DMCA in an email to the host. Lord knows asking Google to hold them accountable for their terms of service did not work in my case - Google just wrote back and said "we can't do anything." Plus the bad guys were repurposing content from a whole slew of other sites. Lazy jerks.

By the way - this is really not exactly a trivial deal for many blog authors and publishers. I know when it happens to me, I chase it down and take it seriously. No lawyers needed - I am pretty good at that stuff and have some legal and courtroom experience, so why not put it to use eh? The ads on my site pay for my web hosting and my Internet access each month, and then some, so I have a little more than just an ego interest in what I choose to write and post.

Anyhow, below is an email I used last year to resolve a plagiarism problem involving full content from this web site. It's blunt, direct, complete and it worked. Also, note that this letter followed multiple attempts to get the site owner to remove plagiarized content. I'm posting the email letter here simply for the benefit of anyone who might become a victim of blog plagiarism and wants access to some ideas that have worked for others in the past.

And by the way - make sure you have a copyright statement and maybe a Creative Commons license on your main page that states what people can and cannot do with your blog content (mine's at the bottom of every page - it says people can repurpose it with attribution and for non-commercial purposes). It can't hurt to do this, and it helps set reasonable expectations and ground-rules for well-behaved people, while it can also be ammo for the ill-behaved later on...

Note that the problem I tackled with the below email was resolved within 4 hours of the email being sent to the hosting provider (the site owner never responded), and it happened a year and a half ago, so please don't go harassing anyone - this is just posted here to help people who might end up in a similar situation.

Where you see the word "(-- edited --)" below, I have removed identifying information to protect the innocent as well as those who complied with the requests to remove the offending content.

[via tech.memeorandum.com]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:  ACTION REQUIRED: Illegal use of copyrighted content by one of your customers for commercial purposes
Date:  Sun, 3 Apr 2005 17:18:51 -0700

NOTICE: IF YOU ARE THE OWNER, OPERATOR OR HOSTING PROVIDER OF THE “MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO” DOMAIN, THIS IS A CEASE AND DESIST LETTER REQUIRING YOU TO IMMEDIATELY CEASE REPUBLISHING CONTENT OR ALLOWING/ENABLING CONTENT TO BE REPUBLISHED, WHICH IS SOURCED FROM THE “GREGHUGHES.NET” DOMAIN.

The owner of the web site(s) located on your servers/network at the below IP address and domain name is stealing and republishing - via an automated web-server application that gathers an XML feed - content owned and copyrighted by Greg Hughes at http://www.greghughes.net:

216.7.187.20 (MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO)

The following ARIN information identifies (-- edited --) Holdings, LLC (which is a corporation in Colorado) and (-- edited --).com (which appears to be a possibly defunct operation) as owners of the IP address/block in question:

Location: United States [City: Loveland, Colorado]

NOTE: More information appears to be available at NET-216-7-186-0-1.

(-- edited --) Holdings, LLC D393LLC-DC-INVERNESS6 (NET-216-7-160-0-1)
                                  216.7.160.0 - 216.7.191.255
(-- edited --).com VONOC-216-7-186-0-23 (NET-216-7-186-0-1)
                                  216.7.186.0 - 216.7.187.255
 
# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2005-04-02 19:10
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.

The person(s) running the web site at MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO have been contacted in the past via the “contact” form on the web site and told to stop repurposing this content, specifically because they have not obtained permission and because they are profiting from advertising revenue from said web site. This activity constitutes theft of intellectual property under copyright laws and the DMCA. The information being sourced is copyrighted as indicated on the web site, and is not in the public domain for re-use. The party(ies) associated with MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO have not responded to repeated contacts and requests to cease use of the copyrighted material.

We have sent a CEASE AND DESIST letter to the parties once again today (April 3, 2004) through their web site contact form at http://www.microsoft-dotnet-technology.info/contact.asp. At this time we request that you remove the offending web sites and pages from your servers, as they are clearly in violation of the common acceptable use provisions of the parties to this email:

http://www.(-- edited --).com/acceptable-use.asp#copyright

IN ADDITION, the same person(s) appear to be sourcing copyrighted material for commercial use from Yahoo!, Search Engine Watch, moreover.com, the Kansas City Public Library, National Geographic News, about.com, and Web Hosting News. Unless the situation is rectified immediately we will also be contacting those persons and companies to advise them of the misuse of the copyrighted property and data.

The WHOIS information on record for the domain in question is:

Domain ID:D8436219-LRMS
Domain Name:MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO
Created On:27-Nov-2004 15:34:17 UTC
Last Updated On:27-Nov-2004 15:34:20 UTC
Expiration Date:27-Nov-2005 15:34:17 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:R136-LRMS
Status:ACTIVE
Status:OK
Registrant ID:C7727838-LRMS
Registrant Name (-- edited --)
Registrant Organization:(-- edited --)
Registrant Street1:(-- edited --)
Registrant City:(-- edited --)
Registrant State/Province:Gujarat
Registrant Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Registrant Country:IN
Registrant Phone:(-- edited --)
Registrant (-- edited --)
Admin ID:C7727839-LRMS
Admin Name:(-- edited --)
Admin Organization:(-- edited --)
Admin Street1:(-- edited --)
Admin City:Ahmedabad
Admin State/Province:Gujarat
Admin Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Admin Country:IN
Admin Phone:(-- edited --)
Admin (-- edited --)
Billing ID:C7727840-LRMS
Billing Name:(-- edited --)
Billing Organization:(-- edited --)
Billing Street1:(-- edited --)
Billing City:Ahmedabad
Billing State/Province:Gujarat
Billing Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Billing Country:IN
Billing Phone:(-- edited --)
Billing (-- edited --)
Tech ID:C7727841-LRMS
Tech Name:(-- edited --)
Tech Organization:(-- edited --)
Tech Street1:(-- edited --)
Tech City:Ahmedabad
Tech State/Province:Gujarat
Tech Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Tech Country:IN
Tech Phone:(-- edited --)
Tech (-- edited --)
Name Server:VOB1.(-- edited --).COM
Name Server:VOB2.(-- edited --).COM

(Note: I edited the names and other identifying infomration from the WHOIS record at the request of the person listed in the contact sections of the record becuase they asked me to do so. While the information is accurate as it was originally posted, it serves no useful purpose to keep that person's phone and other information here and the orginal issue was resolved, so I agreed to make the change).



Add/Read: Comments [2]
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Monday, 26 December 2005 21:21:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Wednesday, 28 December 2005 17:48:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I appreciate the advice and the sample letter. Somehow it also appeals to my twisted sense of humor that in a post about not swiping content from your site, you are providing us with instructions and sample content to swipe.

Seriously, your blog is great, keep up the good work!
Friday, 30 December 2005 16:27:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Plagiarism sucks. That copycat should be punished.
Comments are closed.