Saturday, August 23, 2008

Update on Stolen Content (& a little more info)

By Leigh

Yesterday I checked on the status of my stolen blog posts. This is what I saw:

What a relief. Since mailing a formal complaint to the site host, I have been checking the site every day.

Prior to filing that complaint, I had contacted the site's owner. Even though they never replied, after several days I found that "View text" links had been added at the bottom of all the stolen posts:

A sneaky way to link back to the original author.What this did, was to link back to my original post, though you wouldn't know that from the name of the link. The "Add Favorite" linked back to the offender's home page, while "Close" did nothing.

This type of link back is a popular scraping technique, in hopes that the author of the original content will think, "Oh well. At least they linked back to me. Maybe I'll get some traffic out of it." However, it doesn't give proper credit in regards to authorship. Sometimes they will use the author's name as the link back. Whether or not this is acceptable is up to the original author.

If you own the content you have the right to choose if and how it is used. Creative Commons has several licensing options, whereby you can choose how you want to allow your work to be shared. I've looked these over, but still, I would like to be asked first, especially considering I don't know where my content might end up. For example, I don't want my posts or photos being used on a site which sells viagra or promotes adult only content. Actually, my preference is that they just say that the content exists and give a link to it.

Even though the site which used my posts has been suspended, I was advised by the host that
If a Counter DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is submitted, the site will be reactivated & it will be up to the two parties to figure this out.
In other words, if the thief can provide "documentation" that the content was originally theirs, then I have to find another course of action.

When I first discovered the splog, I spent a lot of time tracking down and contacting some of the others whose content had been stolen. Some of these were interested in doing something about it, others didn't care. I figured that if several people complained rather than just me, we could permanently shut down the site. Hopefully that is the case.

However, because a thief can file a counter-DMCA, I'm not sure that copyright notices are enough. After all, blog post dates can be changed or the stolen content can be edited. That's why I finally decided to register with MyFreeCopyright. This free online service offers 3rd party proof that you hold the original copyright to your online work.

I registered my blog via my blog's site feed url. With each new post I publish, I am emailed dated documentation verifying my ownership of the material including publishing date, title, description, and a digital fingerprint which I can present as proof that I am indeed the original author. MyFreeCopyright keeps this information along with a copy of the original, so that I have 3rd party copyright proof. Hopefully I will never need to use it.

So that's what happened. In some ways I hate the bother of having to add copyright precautions to my blog, but on the other hand, I'm not willing to make crime easy for someone else.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm ready to get back to fiber and textile content! I've still got waffle weave on the loom, and I'm still spinning that cotton lint. More updates on those soon.

Posted 23 Aug 2008 at

Related Post:
Stolen Content
A Note About Watermarks


Peg in South Carolina said...

Oh, jeezzzzzz...... I went and looked at myfreecopyright, saw that it was Spanish and seemed to have mostly Spanish speaking blogs, which worried me a little. So did some googling and think it's fine. But I did find a site with good info on just what it does and does not provide.
The long and the short of it is that I am not going to register. Apparently in the long run (i.e., when federal court comes into play), this won't help you. Anyway, there is nothing on my blog worth taking or suing over, though I don't think this is necessarily true with your blog. Life is just too short. Perhaps someday I will sing a different tube? Glad you got the posts removed.

Sheepish Annie said...

Got behind on my blog reading there for a bit...and look at all that's happened! I'm so glad you got all that straightened out, but what a pain that you have to do it in the first place.

I limited the visible content in my blog's feed settings a while back just for this reason. It's not that I post marvelous, useable information or anything like that. But the content is mine (such as it is) and I sort of like to keep it that way!

Linda W said...

Geeeesh. I am so naive about all of this it's scarey. Thanks for getting me to think about it. Now, to read the links and move into action.

bspinner said...

I don't blame you for wanted to copyright all the information on your blog. You put so much work into it and those of us who read your blog are so thankful for all your hard work and sharing it with us.

Since the content of my blog isn't to interesting I'm not to worried about anyone stealing it.

Wool Enough said...

I'm sorry you had to go through this experience. The information you provided has certainly been an eye opener for me. The most salient point you made was about not wanting your content to wind up somewhere that advertised or promoted a product or service you don't like. That would bother me too. A lot. So, I think I've been inspired to change my blog's feed setting to partial in hopes of limiting the risk. My content is nothing to brag about, but it is mine. And if having to open the full blog to read the post causes anyone to refrain from reading, well . . . phooey on them.

Anne said...

Leigh, thank you so much. I am a new blogger, not very computer tech literate, so the information you gave is so important!


Kathy said...

I haven't been able to get to the free copyright site yet, but thanks for the link! And my daughter wonders why I don't put my whole life on the Net...

vlb5757 said...

Leigh-I checked out the link for the copyright site. I did all of it but I can't figure out where on my blog their logo should appear. Which gadget did you put their logo under? I have creative commons already but I thought this would be good too. I am not really savvy about all of this but reading your blog has really helped me understand about stolen text from blogs. I have had someone steal stuff from my food blog.

Julie said...

I just wouldn't of thought that you would have to copyright your blog. Thanks for the info!

Leigh said...

vlb5757, use the HTML/JavaScript Gadget. Then all you have to do is copy the code from the FreeCopyRight website and paste it into the gadget.

Jewel, in the US, everything one writes or creates is automatically copyrighted by the author/maker. That doesn't mean that others will respect it however. :(

Helen said...

I am so grateful for you doing all this hard work and sharing it with us all . I don't unfortunatly understand all that you have said- but I am studying and hope that i get there-in the end! I feel strongly about intellectual property rights too. Sorry you have had the hassle but thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I've been having similar problems with my content appearing on different blogs and sites. Most recently, it involved a forum board where they were hot linking to my images, and making comments about the images! I wrote the site owner, and his response was that if I don't want my images to appear, maybe I should post them on the internet. I responded to him that his response was irresponsible and plain didn't make sense. That's like say not to park your car at the mall if you don't want it stolen. Well...anyway...
Sop, I finally swapped those images in question with some rather highly obscene images! And, sure enough, the hot linking brought all that onto their message boards. The moderator removed all the links to my images.

Sharon said...

One more day to vacation and time to think and then I need to carefully and thoughtfully read through all this information. I think the high traffic of your blog and the instructional nature of content is what made you prey, but the meanness of it still hard to swallow.

Leigh said...

Helen, if you have any questions, please let me know. I know that sometimes I get wordy, but the important thing here is awareness, with a few precautions we can take.

Dave, I laughed when I read your solution. Very clever. That attitude anything on the internet is fair game is the real problem. It's a shame that we sometimes have to take matters into our own hand like that.

Sharon, I think that if scarpers are focusing on keywords to find content, then traffic and popularity are irrelevant. At the very least, I think that we should all have a means of revealing true authorship, no matter where our stuff ends up on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information, Leigh. It is a pain that we have to go through all of this just to communicate our ideas, but there are a lot of things that are a pain in this world.

Susan Harvey said...

It just so happens that someone 'stole' my step daughters blog (with only 3 posts!) this past week and is passing it off as their own content!
Thank you for showing us the steps to take and I have registered with FreeCopyRight and Copyscape.

My blog isn't really all that important in the scheme of things, but it's MINE.


Helen said...

Hi Leigh the amount of information is not too wordy at all! It is just me struggling with blogger. I always think I am reasonably computer literate till I blog! What I can't do is get my blog url to appear at the bottom of my post as you now do. I have put it in the post feed and yet it does not appear. I put in this;- "Posted by Helen"
and followed their instructions about enabling post pages and set "allow blog feeds" but my url does not appear. I am probably missing something obvious! Any help gratefully recieved.
I am gradually following all your other suggestions -thanks. Fantastic advice. As always. Helen

Leigh said...


You can learn more about Dave's hotlinking solution in this post on his website.

Anonymous said...

OY!! This had happened to me many years ago with a series of articles on color theory that I had done for an eZine.

I was doing a search and imagine my dismay when my articles came up verbatem, complete with all of my hard worked color and value charts, etc.

AND it was a graduate student who had stolen them. Needless to say, I contacted his university, and received a major apology from them, from him -- and they instituted a lecture series on copyrwrite.

This was in the days when right clicking and cutting and pasting were common practices.

In one way it is flattering, in another way it is a huge pain -- not to mention just W R O N G.

Jane <------ who's been up to her ears in 1600s and in Guild duties.