Monday, November 9, 2009

A Rant on Content Theft

OK folks, I'm more than a little irritated at the moment. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's the case then several someones have really enjoyed what they have read here on The Home Garden. It's not the idea of someone using my content to promote gardening, to teach someone something, or to display a plant they might want in their garden that bothers me.  In fact I really enjoy being able to share the things I do here in the garden with everyone I can, that's the whole point! It's fun to talk about it. But here's the thing that bothers me, and it's really important, permission. I've never given it. No one has asked for permission yet in the last couple weeks at least two feed aggregator websites have taken my content. One of which didn't even have a return link to this site and misrepresented the content as their own claiming it was written by "Mr. Gardener". No credit, no link, simply theft. I attempted to contact them twice through their site with no response and finally looked up the owner of the url using WHOIS and contacted that person. Since then the site is no longer up. The second site I just discovered today. I have questioned them on taking my content and haven't received a response yet. It's early so I'll give them time. The fact is this I spend time writing what hopefully are interesting posts for my subscribers, friends, and family to read. I'm not writing for Mr. Aggregator. Without my express permission it is theft, plain and simple.

How does this happen? Through subscription feeds. The offending site takes my content through the feed and puts it up on theirs in an attempt to find keyword rich content that Google and other search engines will love. Then they can charge advertisers for space on the webpage or use Google Ads on the site to generate revenue off of someone else's hard work. The funny thing about the site taking from my feed is a line on the bottom of each feed that says "Not to be reproduced or reblogged without permission." It's now reprinted all over their website plain as day on all my stolen posts.

I know you're probably curious as to what this site is but for now I'm choosing to not call it by name. I want to give the site the chance to do the right thing and I also don't want to send any traffic over there.  I'll keep an eye out for other bloggers I know and try to let you know if I see your site there. It was mere happenstance that I found it today. I did a search on Google where I typed in "site:www.growingthehomegarden.com" and found various mentions of my URL, one of which happened to be the site. I recommend you do this for your own blog if you are concerned about your content being stolen and used.You could also use "link:www.yourblog.com" to see who is linking to your site. Sometimes links you that have put into your content are not blocked or removed.

My strategy for dealing with content theft is this:
  1. Contact the individual and request removal/conversation.
  2. If contact doesn't work contact the ISP and report them.
  3. Contact Google and report them.
  4. Contact a lawyer for a cease and desist letter.

I hope the last step is unnecessary. Most reasonable people should remove the content after first contact.

Unfortunately if content theft of this blog continues I may have to change the feed back to partial feeds only. I know this will disappoint some people but I hope you understand the reasons why.

Anyone know a good lawyer?

;)


If you are reading this and it is not on the website URL: www.growingthehomegarden.com please follow the URL and contact me, the content may be stolen and in violation of copyright.



22 comments :

  1. Dave, Thanks for the warning -- and likewise, good luck with your thief.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry to hear this happened to you. There seems to be more of this going on right now. Thanks for the tips on how to check on our blogs. I hope the other site is taken down too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dadgumit all! I keep reading about this happening...it just really makes me sad. Glad you found out Dave and I do hope that it will resolve itself (the right way).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Dave, I hope you can get this taken care of. We have had problems off and on with the same issue. When contacted, one site tried to claim they were doing me a favor by using my posts, more readers! There was no link to my blog, so the readers were not mine and I asked several times for them to remove the posts. They finally did. That is when I began putting my name on the photos. I will do the google searches you suggest. I usually just search my blog name. Thanks for the info and go get 'em!!!

    Frances

    ReplyDelete
  5. Seems to be a growing problem or maybe it is something that happens more often in the fall. When I started blogging last year there were some rants about posts being stolen, it was just about this time of year.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Helen,

    The interesting thing now this latest post is up on the site.

    Catherine,

    It's the whole permission thing that bothers me. It seems in this digital age more and more people don't respect what others have done.

    Darla,

    Thanks and me too. There's a lot I can do should they choose not to remove the blog, let's just hope I don't have to go through the trouble!

    Frances,

    I may have to start watermarking my photos too. I hate to take the extra time to alter them but it may be necessary.

    Janet,

    It could be. Maybe people have more time on their hands to put these things together.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is so upsetting that folks steal things from others like this. I have found my posts out there too. Wordpress was good and removed one of mine but I had to actually prove it was mine even though the guy credited me. It is a royal pain. I do hope you get it taken care of and a 'good' lawyer? Is there such a thing?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tina,

    I think there could be good lawyers out there, not the ones on cheesy TV ads though. ;) I hope this person removes it quick. Their contact email is bogus. I've left two messages now. It looks like they may be more difficult to work with than I thought.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mercy, Dave! I guess this is a tribute to the quality of your content. People often put up our posts on what look like aggregating blogs, but fortunately WordPress tends to toss them into our spam folder so they're easy to see and delete. Of course, this probably just breaks the link rather than removing out post from their site, but we're such Luddites, we wouldn't know! Sigh. Good luck keeping folks who won't take the time to ask your permission from making off with your content!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Some months back I found one of my posts on the blog of a 'photographer' whose comments and email did not work.

    Here's how I 'fixed' the link back to me:

    http://naturephotographyimages.net/secrets-of-a-seed-scatterer-butterflies-no-flowers/

    Months have gone by and he is still linked to my hateful post that I substituted for the original.

    These people obviously never look at their own sites, just continue to grab the work of others. A real photographer not want to use my amateur pics or even acknowledge them!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Dave, first, I'm sorry about the theft. It happens to me too. My photos are stolen regularly with no attribution and re-sized to remove my copyright notice.

    Oh, and my blog name was once stolen too, and I fought that.

    I did have to change my feed to partial to stop some of it. It makes me sad, but I think you're choosing the correct course. Keep us informed.~~Dee

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Dave,

    Well, isn't this the way of it. Always someone spoils it for the rest of us. I so enjoy reading your garden posts and viewing your photos and hope I can continue to enjoy this activity. I also hope you're able to resolve the hijacking of your blog by this other party. What is the matter with people these days ... no sense of shame for one thing!

    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Dave

    I'm sorry to hear about this. A complete pain in the backside.

    I'm going to google my blog as suggested.

    Rob

    ReplyDelete
  14. I too am battling content theft. So far I have had good luck when contacting the site owner and asking nicely to remove it, restore it to original form, but only when they actually have a way to contact them from the website.

    I have also run across a few Blogger sites and just yesterday, a Windows Live Spaces site had taken an article I wrote for Ezinearticles and placed spammy links throughout. On top of that, my author's resource box was missing. Of course when I went to contact them....no contact info! The icing on the cake was when I went to use the "Report Abuse" link on the bottom of the page and it asked me for the persons ID number so I could make the complaint! I ended up using the feedback link and letting Windows Live Spaces know they have a crappy system of reporting abuse.

    Sometimes these blogger type websites make it nearly impossible to get your stolen content removed. Gets frustrating after awhile, but we just need to keep on doing our thing and hope the scrapers, scammers, and spammers get shut down eventually.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the warning. I hope you get it all straightened out. It's such a drag to have to deal with this kind of stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for the tip off and advise on what to do re. content theft. Seems to happen a lot. A friend was having a lot of his Youtube vids taken like that. Love your blog and hope you can sort it out.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nell Jean,

    I wish I could simply change one post. The problem is this site has taken dozens over the last several weeks. They've also scraped hundreds of other blogs.

    Dee,

    I wonder what the best way to prevent that from happening to photos is. I guess I need to start marking all my photos with watermarks. It's awful that people can't be trusted more. The few bad apples ruin things for the whole bushel.

    Rub,

    Check it and see. I hope you don't find anything!

    Dwayne,

    Many of these people are completely without conscience. Copyright seems like common sense to me. If someone else wrote it then it shouldn't be taken without permission. It sure seems that Windows should have a better system doesn't it? You're right we just have to outlast them and eventually they will give up, I hope!

    Thanks MMD!

    It's a definite downer on a good day. Very frustrating but it's happening more and more.

    Frazz,

    I think on YouTube you can arrange it so that it can't be embedded. I'm not sure entirely as I have very limited experience with it. some people just don't know any better and I can forgive their ignorance if they do the right thing it's when it becomes blatant outright theft without rectifying the situation that it is unforgivable.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am so sorry Dave, that you have encountered such a horrible thing. What is wrong with people these days?
    No morels, no con since, What!!!
    I hope you get it straightened out.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dave, I've had the same problem! The guy I contacted made a big deal about it being content on the web and anyone who wanted could take it. I think my material is no longer on his site! Good luck! gail

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi, I'm a lurker subscribed on Google Reader, just trying to learn about gardening and enjoying your posts.
    My question is, how can I as a reader tell and avoid such sites when I just google something? Is there a way to avoid being a consumer of stolen content?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Chiara,

    That's a very good question. It can be very difficult as often spammers and scrapers will remove all characteristic properties of the post like link and credit and will even cut and paste parts of images without watermarks. It's getting easier for these people to take things and use it as their own. If you already know the content (like from here) you can match URLs and if it isn't from the site you know then it's probably stolen. Generally if you Google something the site that made the content originally should show up higher but that's not always the case. I'm researching ideas on how to prevent these things from happening and identifying them if they do so I'll repost information when I learn more. There is a site called Plagiarism Today that has lots of useful information. The owner of that site has been giving me some ideas and help with this matter.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I haven't found anyone lately that has taken a whole post, but this is a good reminder to keep an eye out. I have had an uprising in sites taking a sentence or two and then linking back to my site. Not sure if it is worth the hassle or go after them too. They are not sites that are related to mine in any way it looks like they are just taking bits and pieces of anything and posting it.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading The Home Garden. Please feel free to comment on the posts, ask questions, offer suggestions, or just say hi!

I read every comment The Home Garden receives and appreciate the time you take to read about what I'm working on!

Dave

Advertising will be removed from comments as the administrator of this blog sees fit. If you wish to advertise please fill out a this contact form with your proposal.