Stealing content from bloggers

The latest blog to steal my – and others – content is jobs.org.nz.

They should know that they are in good company – the previous offender of note was a <redacted> site.

So I’ll do the google-ads-filled jobs.org.nz a favor and directly  link the two together: redacted

<update 2 – after a chat with a very polite domain owner I removed the link above. See comments at the end of the post>

Incidentally I saw ads for Starnow and Finda – guys you are wasting your money.

So along with that childish response I also did the adult things

First I complained to Google Adsense. They have a nice little set-up for receiving complaints – just click on the gooooogle link by the ads.

However I got an auto response which says Google’s policy is to respond to all alleged infringements under the DCMA – which is right. However in order to do so I need to send something in written form – which will not happen as bits of paper confound me.

It should be really easy for Google to make this work automatically.

They just need to give me a form when I can put the copyrighted material (mine) including links to specific copied articles, along with a link to my feed. Similarly let me put a link to the stolen copyrighted material and a link to the culprit site’s feed. If the site is taking other site’s source information then give me the ability to put their feeds in as well.

Then it should be a trivial matter to automatically monitor the feeds of the source sites and check that the culprit site feed is appearing after the source. Automatically take the Google ads off that site – it is clearly of low quality anyway.

If the site wants to challenge Google to get the ads back, then so be it – but the onus is now on them to prove the content isn’t from the names sources.

I do recall when I first got Google ads for a site that it was actually quite tough (it was SmokeCDs or Snow.co.nz I think). Now it seems any man and dog combination can get the ads, and the results will vary for adsense buyers.

Next I did a whois search, and found that the owner of this shame is <edited> from Christchurch.

I’ve emailed him and also the hostmaster at 1stdomains to request that they stop. We shall see what happens next.

I am happy for people to grab content from this site with attribution and add commentary  – it’s all adding to the conversation. But to do so to a google ad filled site with no context is clearly wrong.

<update 1: I’ve received an email reply (2 actually) from the site domain owner who tells me “I did not set any feeds up personally” and offered to remove my content.

I also notice that right now there are no longer any Google ads on the site.>

<Update 2: As noted above I’ve now chatted to the domain owner Rob. While he owns the domain but the site is owned/operated  by a student out of India. He proactively removed the Adsense code from the site once he saw this post.

I’m struggling with this exchange. I think I was a bit heavy handed and perhaps wrong – and I give credit to Rob for being so proactive and polite. The jobs.org.nz site does after all link back to my site, and doesn’t take entire articles – both the right behaviour.

So I removed the references to a previous offender site that dabbled in pictures of unclad gentlemen engaged in mutually consensual activities.

And as Don asks below – what is the difference between jobs.org.nz and Google News? – aside from the site design, the number of ads (Google News has none) and so on. Shouldn’t sites be glad to have their content syndicated elsewhere?

My answer rested in the design of the site, the number of google ads and an over-riding sense that the purpose of the site is simply to harvest content and surround it by Google ads.

My determination was that is is a splog – a spam blog – something that Louise talks about in her post on Changememe. She links to an article on Techcrunch which talks about sharing the joy. Perhaps it would be ok for ad-laden sites to grab content if they do so with permission pay the content providers a commission. You could see a world where this is semi-automatic, but also one where there are lots of errors.

There is something else going on here – we are in New Zealand. I was able to find the domain owner, he was able to find me and we were able to have a nice conversation (and emails) about it all. Because we are a small country we can self-edit to an extent.

So I am going to let this rest as far as jobs.org.nz goes.

But what do you think? is the site (and it is more informative to see it with the ads turned on) adding value? Should I be upset or happy that my content is taken? I feel my response was pretty tough – was I clearly in the wrong?

>

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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13 Responses to Stealing content from bloggers

  1. I blogged the same topic on the same day (http://is.gd/tUfM) from a different perspective – I’m going to adopt your trick of complaining to google though. Thanks!

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  2. Don says:

    Lance

    Just curious, what is the difference between jobs.org and news.google? They both link back to the source story. Is it purely a question of scale and they simply seem to use a snippet of the story.

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  3. Don says:

    My determination was that is is a splog – a spam blog

    That is probably key. It is amazing sometimes the sites that Google key words will find you on if you blog and I agree, they are set up to mislead and abuse.

    However, it does demonstrate what a fine line Google themselves tread. They sell those ads and they run what could be a similar service which, when it was first launched, certainly pissed off media sites.

    And yet, we expect them to be arbitrators in this?

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  4. Lance Wiggs says:

    Via @spudooli on twitter: If you ignore the site design and the extra page view, jobs.org.nz isn’t doing much different to what techmeme.com does

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  5. Lance Wiggs says:

    I’ve also received an email from 1stdomains the registrar. They referred me to the (named) hosting company.
    I’ve got to say – it is great being in New Zealand. I would normally expect to hit a brick wall on this stuff.

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  6. Charles says:

    I think there is a definite difference between what Google News does and what jobs.org.nz was doing…

    Google news uses a very short snippet and they link to the original story directly, both from their site and from their RSS feed. It is about discovery.

    Conversely jobs.org.nz, while also using a snippet (I’d say too long), doesn’t link directly, instead they have a permalink for each of the posts they syndicate, and these all have comments enabled…which means they are potentially appropriating your audience (unlikely I know, but the intent is clearly there). As you would expect from a WordPress powered site they also link back to themselves from their RSS feed.

    Particularly considering the use of Adsense it seems to me the intent of jobs.org.nz is clearly different from Google News. Where Google news is about discovery (like the search box), jobs.org.nz is using your content in the hope that they’ll generate natural search traffic on your content and then monetize it with Adsense.

    Without Adsense anymore I wonder what the motivation will be to maintain the site as it is?

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  7. lawgeeknz says:

    @Charles – Google is clearly in it for the money as well. Not as directly as a site gaining revenue from Adsense but they don’t do what they do as a public good ;-) (good article on this by Mike at http://work.miramarmike.co.nz/2009/04/3-reasons-why-free-is-not-free.html)

    As business starts to move into social networking, arguments over who owns what and who can use it are going to be at the forefront of legal development of copyright/IP. Its happening all over the place – domain names, #s92A music and film p2p ripoffs, webscraping, satire and parody etc etc. This is not new on the web though – to misquote John Perry Barlow (http://bit.ly/8b4HH) its old wine in new bottles. Actually reminds me of the framing and deeplinking wars of a decade ago and has the same issues.

    FWIW, Lance, I think your approach is right. How can we test the limits of what should and should not be allowed if we don’t, well … test the limits by staking a claim first. All very well to say that you know an elephant when you see it but that is not that helpful when you are trying to decide in advance what is allowed.

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  8. Lance Wiggs says:

    from @szechuan via Twitter:
    have you been following the discussion about AllThingsD, and the subsequent changes to their site?
    Kottke.org

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  9. Dylan says:

    I’d argue that aggregation sites (i.e. Google News) hurts publishers in the long run. Content costs money to produce (writers, reporters, photographers) and over the years Google has got really good at “stealing it” for the purposes of making money (the entire YouTube/Record Label debate springs to mind).

    I did a blog post here: http://www.dylanbland.com/?p=221

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  10. Pingback: What’s Stealing? » Nevermind

  11. Charles says:

    @lawgeeknz – Agreed. Google isn’t in it for the lulz.

    That said, I reckon Google News is much like regular Google Search…just limited to the small set of authoritative sources and ordered by recency. They only display a sentence or two of any article so if someone wants to actually consume the content they have to click through to the original source.

    I think it would be fine if jobs.org.nz linked directly rather than through their own permalinks which are creating a destination page for each individual article. There’s no reason to have your own permalinks unless you want to create lots of pages in the hope of generating search traffic and page views (that’s the copyright owners priviledge).

    I wonder how many of the sources listed in Google News ask to be removed. My guess is not many for the same reason not many people opt out of the Google search index.

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  12. El Porko says:

    This isn’t stealing, its copyright infringement. Nothing is stolen!

    I take it you have the copyright holders permission to use the Gary Larson cartoon on your page:
    https://lancewiggs.com/2010/02/16/why-xt-keeps-failing/

    No? Shame on you!

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  13. car security says:

    How can protect our web pages from this type of thieves.

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