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Content theft – a warning

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Monday January 2, 2006 )

In late November, I made mention of a sweep we were doing in order to locate reproduced content taken from Taming the that was in breach of my copyright. To date, we have found over 200 infringements, with still more work to do.

As I mentioned in November, many of the infringements are minor and site owners have been overall apologetic and happy to make the changes requested. I do understand accidents happen and I’m appreciative of instances where an issue is identified, it’s then dealt with rapidly.

What has totally disgusted me are situations where my articles had another person claiming authorship. I was very puzzled that these people thought they would not be caught at some stage. I’m not talking about a paragraph here or there that’s been used without acknowledgement – this is where entire articles of mine have been reproduced with no rewriting whatsoever – just another persons name tacked on as being the writer. To make matters worse, the “author” then submits the articles to archives where they are then distributed throughout the web to other sites.

What is unravelling in some cases is a fairly complex situation, with the fake “author” being totally unaware that he was infringing on my copyright. Regardless, they are still responsible and I hold them accountable.

It appears that some of these site owners are contracting out content development to freelance services. They are being guaranteed that the content they will be provided with is totally original. By paying for that content, they are then “entitled” to add their name as the author.

Unfortunately, these site owners and marketers are not checking the content they are being provided with before handing over their cash. A few simple search engine queries could have revealed if the content provided by the freelancer was original.

I also find it a little unseemly that they would want to claim authorship of content that they didn’t write, nor have any involvement in developing – it’s just a time bomb waiting to go off. Even more pitiful is that some are using my articles to “showcase” their marketing skills in order to acquire clients for their own companies.

The freelancers they are purchasing these illegal reproductions from are not operating out of dark alleys, they are working via some of the most respected freelance marketplaces on the Internet. I’m not suggesting that all freelance content developers are engaged in this reprehensible activity by any means, but this sort of thing definitely appears to be on the increase judging by some of the other authors I’ve been hearing from with similar woes.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I am not flattered in the slightest. I am absolutely livid.

If you have purchased content from a freelancer and stuck your name on it as being the author, I strongly suggest that you check it against some search engine queries – you may be in for a nasty shock. If you find that the content is from Taming the; you’ll want to remove it quick smart before I come a-knockin’.

If you have bought articles, how much did you pay for the content? Do you really think that you can gain quality original articles for peanuts *and* have exclusive rights over them, to the point that you could stick your own name on it? Wake up. Good original articles with enduring exclusive rights where the original author isn’t mentioned are worth big bucks; especially pieces that cover topics such as web development, ecommerce and web marketing.

If you write articles for your own site, I strongly urge you to use some of the strategies I suggest in my article on 302 pagejacking to locate offenders and then pursue them vigorously.

While 302 pagejacking is a different, more complex content theft technique, the methods used for detection are pretty much the same. It’s also good to be watching out for pagejacking while conducting your sweep – you can kill a couple of birds with one stone.

If you have questions/comments about dealing with content theft or pagejacking, post them in this thread using the comment feature below.


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