Wholesale Blog Plagiarism … Alert

105 Comments

Updated: December 27, 2005: The wholesale blog plagiarism is a much wider problem than most of us realize. In the past few days, as we tried to get one site shut down, many more examples have come to light that are simply ripping the content, and repurposing it for making Ad dollars. I can list many a few names here, but why give them the traffic. Some suggest no-more-full feeds, which has sparked off a whole different debate. I am not cutting off the full feeds because of some people are not doing the right thing. That doesn’t mean I am not worried about this whole trend. I turned to Dick Costolo, CEO of Feed Burner and asked him if he could do something. Dick replies…

We do have the ability to throttle these kinds of things IF they are identifying themselves. Frequently, these kinds of sites use a tool that masks their identify by just requesting the feed with a blank user-agent string (for example, instead of sending up “FeedDemon/1.0” or “Googlebot”, they just send up nothing). The problem with banning a blank string is that there are a bunch of perfectly valid home grown RSS readers out there that also send blank strings, and finally, these guys usually bounce around from IP address to IP address.

Clearly, these sites ONLY exist because they can make money from Google AdSense. The issue is important enough for Google to step in, and do something. Everett says, in the short term it may not be a bother for Google. Jeremy Pepper points out that while the splog sites are doing this to make a quick buck, how about the aggregators etc, who are repurposing the content and making money off that.

One commenter writes, “Scrapper sites may soon become the Achilles heel of google adsense program and trigger massive advertiser withdrawal, like what happened to banner advertisements of Web 1.0 era, when many sites started to reload the page every few seconds to get billions of ad displays and advertisers lost millions.” Meanwhile there has been a lot of behinds the scene conversation, that cannot be blogged right now.

Original Post…

Last week, Mike over at Crunch Notes was complaining about Josh Stomel, who was making slight changes to Mike’s posts and reposting them as his own writing. Well, at least Stomel made some effort. This morning, Andy Abramson sent me an email about this website which is lifting and reposting the posts from GigaOM wholesale, images and everything.

These guys who call themselves a magazine network are so dumb, they even took the categories. Apparently, these people are not just ripping my content, but also the content of other bloggers. The design seems to be inspired by “Weblogs Inc” and clearly, this site is created to make money off other-people’s work. Think of this as a new kind of a splog. All right folks, I need some suggestions on how to make this shit stop. The domain is registered to someone in Texas, and the email address on the domain registration information goes to RezGlobal, a wholesale luxury travel agency. Global company, which has a website, but no executives.

Update: Thanks to reader suggestions, some aggressive reporting by Dave Burstein and Andy Abramson, along with a quick response by the said site’s host, the xb90.com has been shut down. Thank you all for moral and technical support.

105 Comments

CrunchNotes » Plagiarism Is Booming

[…] Om writes about his experience with splogs and plagiarism too. What’s great about these complete copy-cat blogs is when they steal and re-post the entries that talk about them stealing and re-posting content. It shows, of course, that this is just an automated system, and these guys are doing it to generate revenue. […]

Ed Sutherland

While RSS feeds can spark a new take on a subject and we all build upon others comments, wholesale plagiarism of blogs shouldn’t be tolerated, just as we wouldn’t tolerate ripping-off the content of the AP or a ‘conventional’ online publication. If legal action cannot be taken, these thieves should at least be ‘out-ed.’

Ed

Blog Rip-offs! -- Alec Saunders .LOG

[…] sites that repost content are nothing new. However, this latest, reported by Om and Andy, is really over the top. A company called XB 90 media is lifting posts out of RSS Feeds, and reposting them whole without attribution. They’re monetizing the site with Google Adsense. It’s such a laughable job that they’ve even preserved the original poster’s categories. […]

Om Malik

Nik,

that is a great idea. i think it is something i am going to try and get done. it might be better way of blocking them. thanks again.

Nik Cubrilovic

Om find their requests for your feed in your logs and block them with apache.. I assume the request for your feed will come from the same server and IP address. If you need a hand let me know.

Wyatt

I started putting comments on their site stating that they are ripping off your content.

Jeremy Pepper

It’s something that is happening more and more out there. At least you have presence of mind to have your copyright below and are not relying on just a Creative Commons license.

But, it does beg the question about other legitimate services that do use your posts and make money off of them. What about the news aggregators that pull your posts, yet have AdSense or other ads there? What about people that are blogging via Del.icio.us – pretty much just link blogs that also have ads? Where does the line get drawn?

No, I don’t think what the xb90 guy doing is Kosher, but I do think others have been rabidly attacked for doing stupid stuff. This guy is milking the system, while others have just been lazy.

Just my .02.

Mike D.

Sanjay: You actually *are* required to immediately place any content which has a DMCA complaint against it in safe harbor (i.e. temporarily remove it from the site, by whatever means you choose). At that point, you are only required to notify the accused party that you have taken it down and that there is a complaint against it.

This is to protect you as the ISP, and not anybody else.

From the moment you take it down, there is really no further action you must take. You are not required to make a judgement on whether or not the content is illegal, and in fact, you may allow the content to be re-posted if you feel the accused is correct. At this point, any lawsuits are between the accuser and the accused and you are not a party to it. 99% of the time, it doesn’t get this far though as the accused has been “caught” and usually cowers away into a hole at that point.

Andy Abramson

Om,

For sites like mine and others that do not rely on ad revenue to pay for themselves ends up building our legend. For you and those like Tom Keatings and a few others who do rely on the ad revenue the stealing of traffic hurts in the wallet, which I why I alerted you.

Andy

Om Malik

sanjay

thanks for your input. i agree, some of these nefarious people are simply ruining it for all the other law abiding folks. i still wish there is something we could do about this. i have followed the instructions from all the folks who have left a comment, and i wonder if that is enough.

thanks for your words of support.

Om Malik

joesph, thanks for your input and you are right. normally i ignore these bastards but this time around it is just too much…. oh well.

The Stalwart

I’ve found posts of mine copied onto splogs before, but it doesn’t seem to harmful. These websites get virtually no traffic, of course, and if you occasionaly link back to one of your posts in a post, then when it is copied there, Google will see that as yet another incoming link, which is arguably beneficial. It’s sort of like someone else doing SEO dirtywork for you.

Still, it’s pretty weak.

Sanjay

Om — I’m a hosting provider for 10+ years. We are, as others have stated, required to state the person who is the DCMA related legal contact on our site. That means, you are lucky (temporarily) these sploggers’ provider is in the US. It won’t be the case next time. As a hoster we always respond DCMA complaints (though am not sure we are required to immediately block a site alleged to be a copyright violator), however a crook hardly ever hosts with a seemingly law abiding hoster like us. These guys simply have some sort of an xml sucking tool so their cost of copying and moving the site is almost zero. As we’ve learnt from the spam war, content creators can’t win this lopsided war.

Vinu

I don’t see why you seem so pissed! I see the ‘Times of India’ having one page called ‘bloggers park’ where they lift articles from the blogosphere! Its basically free content for them and in a revenue as they have print ads. Now, will you call the plagiariasm? He doesn’t give credit I agree but guess what over a period of time people will know the real sourse. Try introducing referrals to your own site then and there so that the reader knows where the content is coming.

Try to go after these kind of people is just pure waste of time and efoort. If are succesful in this after a month it may be someone else!!

Om Malik

khabri

thanks for the heads up on the tool. whichever company is doing that, it is doing a lot of us a favor. and i kinda of am sick and tired of always fighting this battle. so some automation will come in handy

khabri

LOL. They even have your plagiarism blog published on their site. Reminds me of a stupid boy in my school who always copied from me in exams and sometimes even my name. HaHa!

Meanwhile check this website http://www.techwhack.com, he plagiarises the entire news networks content as blogs to earn from ads and has a very high ranking in Google news.

Om, regarding plagiarism, I can’t speak but a big company is already writing a tool to detect the same.

Om Malik

hey mark,

that is funny, and further proof that they are nothing but scammers. please help spread the word and make this a nightmare not for this guy but also for his host, and everyone else

Om Malik

thanks guys for the tips. i am following up on this and will keep you posted. appreciate the tips. very helpful.

Markus

Welcome to the next spam wave, i know some of these guys are making thousands a day by taking XML feeds and repackaging them in high paying markets.

THe only way you will be able to shut them down is to report them to google adsense for breaking their TOS.

Matt

DMCA is the best route to go – send it to them, to their ISP, and the ISP’s upstream. You’ll get a quick response.

Matt

Mike D.

Om: Make sure to cite the DMCA in all correspondence. This is a case where the DCMA is your friend, in a very big way. Even if the ISP for some reason doesn’t believe or like you, they are required by law to automatically remove the content immediately and put it in safe harbor until the matter is resolved. If they don’t, you can sue *them*, which is why they will automatically do it.

Om Malik

Hi there PXLated, thanks for helping out with that information. i sent an email to their abuse departemnt as well. lets see what happens. appreciate the help deeply

Om Malik

any idea how to find out who their hosting service is. are the nameservers an indication of who the hosting provider might be?

David Ulevitch

Om,

You contact their hosting provider and notify them of copyright infringement. If they are a US provider it should be a simple matter. They might move, but eventually they’ll get tired.

If you want to pursue more litigious methods, you need to find out who they are.

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