February 10, 2007

Situation resolved without machetes

The offending site that was stealing my blog articles seems to have been taken down and I'm very happy about that. It was really creepy to see my articles on this site. It didn't seem to be coming from the RSS feed because the articles were all jumbled in date order and some of my articles were almost 6 months old, while that blog was only around for two months.

I did a lot of research about stolen content and it seems that for the most part, blog authors don't have a lot of recourse if the offender can't be shamed into taking his site down or the site administrator doesn't take action. I guess I was just lucky, or maybe enough of you flagged the blog that it got someone's attention.

In doing the research, I read that a lot of people seem to think that if you put something on the internet, it's like a gift − fair game for anyone to steal. Others say that by publishing an RSS feed, you are explicitly giving permission for anyone to use your material. I don't think so! An RSS feed is a convenience for your readers, not permission to steal something and call it your own.

While a snippet of an article with a linked reference to the author is a compliment, copying 22 articles without attribution can only be called plagiarism.

Initially, I was confused as to the purpose because there were no ads on that blog. However, I then noticed that there were a few links attached to my words which went to a couple of dubious looking sites. One was called Photo Leech (gives a nice picture, doesn't it?) and another called Referral Loot.

I did click the flag (flag this blog) button and reported the blog as copyright material. I should have said stolen content as Carol suggested but I just didn't think about it at the time. Since words were misspelled and the instructions weren't even grammatically correct, I thought the reporting process was a sham, too.

I reviewed the excellent article that Patrick recommended and followed Lorelle's recommendation about the email notice to the domain owner and the service provider. Coincidence or not, within a couple of hours, the site was taken down and it now reads: This blog has been archived or suspended.

I really recommend that every blog author read Lorelle's article. It includes several easy suggestions for finding out if your content has been used on other sites. If you don't regularly check for this, you may be very surprised at what you find.

You might also want to read A brief introduction to copyrights and 10 myths about copyrights
, both by Brad Templeton. Dan Richards' article DMCA Action (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) includes detailed information about how to find out who you are dealing with and how to contact them when a problem arises. Splog Reporter compiles data on spam blogs (splogs) and reports the information to search engines. I also plan to do some reading about Creative Commons and Plagiarism Today.

Thank you to all the readers who helped by flagging the blog, finding the IP address and email addresses, and to all the commenters who had such nice things to say. I really appreciate your support!

To John W, who said,

"It's uncanny, the way the feeling of being connected comes across on your blog, while the same material reposted elswhere is dull and lifeless."
and to Germinatrix, who said,
"the material seems so lifeless when taken out of the context of your blog. When I read your words, I hear your voice - well, a voice I imagine to be yours, but the same words seemed so robotic and cold on the other site. Icky. There is only one Blogicito...,"
I just want to say that I consider these to be the ultimate compliments! These comments really brought a smile to my face. I have that feeling of being connected to you, my readers, and that's what makes it such a joy to write this blog.

And to Patty who suggested that her Macho Man and El Jefe could "prune his garden" with machetes in the true Honduran manner, we had a good laugh over that one, too!

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