Friday, October 08, 2010

How to Handle Blog Plagiarism

I suspected that it was only a matter of time before some slug stole (yet again, it's happened before!) my copyrighted work here on Scott's Web Log since that's been rampant in the last few weeks. Sure enough, one of my d-friends, in this case Ronald Gregory who writes "The Poor Diabetic" (on Twitter, his handle is @thepoordiabetic) sent me a message via Twitter that my blog had been plagiarized by someone ambitious enough to lift my content, but too lazy to give proper attribution to me as the copyright owner, in spite of my copyright notice which is quite clear that attribution is required (see the right margin of my blog under the heading of "Content Rights" for more detail). Let's just say the user of my content never bothered to contact me and ask for permission to use my content!

I am merely the latest diabetes blogger to have had my blog content stolen without attribution. Kelly Kunik at Diabetesaliciousness(TM), for example, recently wrote a post entitled "Diabetes Blog Plagiarism Is Rising Faster Than My Blood Sugar After A Six Course Pasta Dinner!!", as have several other diabetes bloggers. However, I have dealt with this issue quite effectively in the past, so I was very well prepared this time around!

Back on April 25, 2007, I wrote a post entitled "Copyright and My Cat". Experience taught me how to deal with copyright invasions very effectively. But I figured it might be worth repeating the contents from that post here, as well as the correspondence (redacted with my personal information removed, naturally) to the offending domain registrar and host. For my fellow d-bloggers dealing with this issue, I hope this helps you deal with these creeps!

Copyright and My Cat
April 25, 2007

The other day, I was searching the Internet for something completely unrelated to diabetes and stumbled upon a posting that looked strangely familiar because it was actually MY 2006 Year-End Annual Review on developments on diabetes, except that none of the links I had in the original post were included, nor was there any acknowledgement or attribution of me as the author or even my blog address.

After investigating further, I discovered at least a half dozen of my other postings had been lifted, again without the links, pictures or attribution. That probably wouldn't have bothered me too much since I discovered that the site was registered to someone in Thailand (although the domain was registered with Yahoo! in the U.S. and hosted by a server in Texas) but what really got me mad was the fact that they lifted my post about my cat Phyllis and didn't even have the courtesy to include her picture!


Anyway, that brought me back to Amy Tenderich's post on the same issue and her recommendations on how to deal with this increasingly annoying problem. I would like to add a few simple, but useful steps. I would add that including some language on your blog about content rights likely helps your position should someone steal your work!

1. First, if you discover one of your posts somewhere online, identify the company that has registered the domain name where the copied post appears. This can easily be done at WHOIS.net. Note that this identifies only what company actually handled the registration of the site in question, not necessarily the company that hosts the site -- sometimes they are the same, but not always. Make note of the information listed -- it may be easiest to print a copy for reference.

2. Next, confirm the company that HOSTS the site in question. After some trial and error on my part, I discovered that you may conduct a domain name lookup at the following site, http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp, which enables you to locate the site administrator or host. Again, copy or print the information you find there.

3. Finally, write a letter citing the copyright infringement. Amy recommended filing what is known as a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation notice, which protects intellectual property and injured parties can file a detailed complaint for review by the web host. If the host does detect copyright infringement, they will issue a warning and can even shut down the offending site if necessary. As Amy recommended, I used the sample provided as my template. Include the web address of the offending site, as well as the site with your post, and send it to the HOST identified in step 2. There should be a mailing address, adminstrator, fax and e-mail address which you may use. I sent both an e-mail complaint, and a fax copy with my written signature just to make sure it gets to their lawyers.

If I have any further updates on this issue, I'll post them, but I hope this additional information saves you time and effort if this ever happens to you!


What to Say in Your Copyright Complaint:

I used the basic template outlined in the sample letter noted above. But after identifying both the domain registrar and host as GoDaddy.com, I made a quick telephone call to their customer service department and asked what e-mail address I should send my DCMA Copyright Complaint to, and was told to send it to: copyrightclaims@godaddy.com, just be sure to send this correspondence to the right domain registrar and host!

Here's what I said in my correspondence:

To: copyrightclaims@godaddy.com
Date Friday, Oct 9, 2010 at 10:48 PM
Subject: DMCA Notice of Copyright Infringement


Sender Information:
C. Scott Strumello
Publisher and owner of "Scott's Web Log" (http://blog.sstrumello.com/)
MY PERSONAL E-MAIL ADDRESS
Tel/Fax: (I USE MY GOOGLE VOICE NUMBER FOR THIS)
MY MAILING ADDRESS
CITY, STATE ZIP



Recipient Information (THIS WILL BE UNIQUE IN EACH CASE):
GoDaddy.com
14455 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 219
Scottsdale, AZ 85260 USA
Tel: 480-505-8899
Fax: 480-505-8844


Regarding (THIS WILL BE UNIQUE IN EACH CASE AND MAY OR MAY NOT BE THE SAME AS THE HOST):
Domains By Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, AZ 85260 USA
Tel: 480-624-2599
Fax: 480-624-2598

C/O Copyright Agent for Notice of Claims of Copyright Infringement

Sent via: e-mail
DMCA Notice of Copyright Infringement
re: [http://questions.freediabetescure.info/ (IP 173.201.216.41)] (BOTH OF THESE ITEMS WILL BE UNIQUE IN EACH CASE)


Dear GoDaddy.com, registrar and host for Domains By Proxy, Inc. (AGAIN, UNIQUE IN EACH CASE):

I, C. Scott Strumello, owner and publisher of "Scott's Web Log" (http://blog.sstrumello.com/) certify under penalty of perjury, that I am the only agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner of certain intellectual property rights.

I have a good faith belief that several items or materials listed are not authorized by law for use by the above named domain name owner or their agents and therefore infringes the copyright owner's rights. I hereby demand that you act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the material or items claimed to be infringing. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, my I am able to file a detailed complaint for review by you as the both the web host and registrar.

My contact information is as follows: (YOU SHOULD INCLUDE YOUR CONTACT INFO. HERE)

C. Scott Strumello
Publisher and owner of "Scott's Web Log" (http://sstrumello.blogspot.com/)
MY PERSONAL E-MAIL ADDRESS
Tel/Fax: (I USE MY GOOGLE VOICE NUMBER FOR THIS)
MY MAILING ADDRESS
CITY, STATE ZIP


Infringing material that I demand be disabled or removed in consideration of the above:

The URLs for these are as follows:

http://questions.freediabetescure.info/d-laid-d-art-day-32/

http://questions.freediabetescure.info/a-diabetes-meme/

http://questions.freediabetescure.info/roche-social-media-summit-part-1-weve-only-just-begun/

http://questions.freediabetescure.info/public-health-is-enough-to-chronic-non-fight-transmittable-diseases-bek/

http://questions.freediabetescure.info/no-d-blog-day-classic-tv-on-dvd/




Allegedly Infringing items or materials:

The URLs for these are as follows:

1. http://questions.freediabetescure.info/d-laid-d-art-day-32/

2. http://questions.freediabetescure.info/a-diabetes-meme/

3. http://questions.freediabetescure.info/roche-social-media-summit-part-1-weve-only-just-begun/

4. http://questions.freediabetescure.info/public-health-is-enough-to-chronic-non-fight-transmittable-diseases-bek/

5. http://questions.freediabetescure.info/no-d-blog-day-classic-tv-on-dvd/



Location of ORIGINAL WORKS:

These correspond with my copyrighted work which can be found my my website known as "Scott's Web Log" (http://blog.sstrumello.com/) at the following URLs for my original, copyrighted work:

1. http://blog.sstrumello.com/2010/09/d-layed-d-art-day.html

2. http://blog.sstrumello.com/2010/09/diabetes-meme.html

3. http://blog.sstrumello.com/2010/09/roche-social-media-summit-part-1-weve.html

4. http://blog.sstrumello.com/2010/10/is-public-health-doing-enough-to.html

5. http://blog.sstrumello.com/2010/10/no-d-blog-day-classic-tv-on-dvd.html


My actual or electronic signature follows:

Sincerely,
(YOUR NAME & BLOG INFO GOES HERE)
C. Scott Strumello
Publisher and owner of "Scott's Web Log" (http://blog.sstrumello.com/)

11 comments:

Kerri. said...

This is a very helpful post for anyone whose blog is being scraped.

And, for the record, I love Phyllis. Your cat has sass to spare!

Jenny said...

I am having the same problem, though some of the time I am unable to find contact information for any party involved.

What really torques me is that most of them appear to be run in order to host Google Ads. When I have identified them to Google, their only response is to send me a form letter telling me to file a DMCA complaint with the site owner.

Google knows it is profiting from ads placed on pirate sites and doesn't care. If Google would check out the sites it put ads on more carefully, there would be much less incentive for people to steal content.

The poor diabetic said...

It is just so infuriating when this happens and worse still is the fact that our hard work can be twisted to fit their agenda and destroying ones reputation without their knowledge, In Kelly's case they went as far as claiming she was a member and a contributor.
To me my reputation both online and off line is equally valuable and the idea of it being smeared just brings me out with guns a blazing.
Kelly had an Idea of contacting the site advertisers as well as they could be held liable. In this case Amazon and godaddy, we have to hit them where it hurts the most.

Michael Hoskins said...

Scott: Great post (though it's sad we have to write about these things at all...). Very helpful and informative. Kelly and I wrote about the same issue the same day just by happenstance, as both ours' were being plagiarized. She worked to get that site taken down quickly, and my efforts too have since paid off and that lifting site is down. These things are happening frequently, and it's important to keep the focus on them and let everyone know how to be aware and deal if need be. So, thanks! And Phyllis rocks!

Brenda F. Bell said...

Well, Scott, it's happened again: http://questions.freediabetescure.info/how-to-handle-plagiarism-blog-2/

Looking at the blurb / first para on the master site http://questions.freediabetescure.info/ it looks like it's been through two automatic translation processes: from English into another language (can't figure out which, yet) and back into English. Which suggests that diabetescure.info is probably getting their feeds from another source, which source would be the true/original culprit in this matter (especially if the site or site owner is located in a country which does not respect DMCA and can then represent its content as freely-available to anyone who wishes to lift it).

Tony Rose said...

Everything that you listed is accurate except the fact about what you would do if they just said, thanks, but no thanks - I'm not taking it down. Then you have to get your lawyers to write up letters and file with the courts, which gets very, very expensive. If they take it down, then all's good.

If the person is listed as anonymous, then you can go after the hosting site that is always listed. Want to learn more, check out Jeremy's video here:
http://www.shoemoneysystem.com/kicking-legals-ass/

Bernard Farrell said...

Scott, did your letter get a response from anyone?

I think it should be possible to get these kind of scummy sites taken down. Do you think writing to Google would be useful? Clearly Google advertising is enabling these places to exist.

Scott said...

Thanks to my fellow bloggers for for letting me know! As Brenda notes, it does appear that my posts are being lifted after being translated into another language by machine, and then translated back into English using Google translate or Babelfish, which explains the various typos in the plagiarizer's website. Google was useless when it came to my complaint, and I think Jenny was right in that the company is more interested in advertising dollars than in doing the right thing about plagiarism.

I have sent formal complaints to the site's host and domain registrar, but it takes some time for them to investigate and respond formally, to Answer Bernard's question: I am still waiting for a formal response from GoDaddy.com. But I would encourage everyone to send your complaints and also include a hard copy mailed to them by snail-mail (the postal service) with return receipt requested so you have a legal document verifying your complaint was received.

My guess is this site won't be around for very long, but until it's gone, keep the complaints to the host & domain registrar coming!

Scott said...

As I was writing my last comment/response, I received an e-mail from GoDaddy.com that indicates "We have suspended the site in question pending a resolution of this matter." But that doesn't mean the case is closed.

GoDaddy also writes:

"If the site owner indicates they are prepared to remove the infringing content, we will re-activate the hosting account in order to allow that to happen. If they complete a counter certification regarding the
work(s) in question, according to our Copyright Infringement Policy, a copy of the counter notification will be sent to you. The site will
then be re-activated 10 days following receipt of the counter
notification by us unless we receive official notice that you have initiated court proceedings. If we do receive such official notice, the website will remain down according to the directions of the court(s) at that time."

I don't make money writing this stuff, but I will try and defend myself to the extent possible without a costly legal team. Hopefully, the plagiarizers will conclude that its just not worth stealing my content and will remove it accordingly, but they could be jerks about it. Only time will tell!!

Tarin said...

thank you so much for this post! my blog, website, and now upcoming event is being copied from some anonymous person until I found this post which gave me the necessary tools needed to find out who this creep is that keeps harassing me.
Words can't express my gratitude.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Plagiarizing can be really annoying especially when you have put so much hard work in to it. In this technological age it's happen very often. This leads to the original website owner losing page rankings, traffic and revenue. Theft of website content is a rapidly growing problem and owners should check their content frequently to find out whether it is being used somewhere else. I use a plagiarism checking service for this. These services use a vast amount of resources in plagiarism checking and can offer up to 10 papers check for free.