Blog Copyright Infringement

I have previously written about some of my efforts to counter sploggers [1].

Since then I have had a particularly brazen splogger copy one of my posts entirely and claim to have written it. The only reason I noticed the copyright violation (my blog license is on my About Page [2]) was because the post in question linked to other posts of mine and I saw the links. I was offended by the flagrant violation of all aspects of copyright law (breaking the license and infringing my moral rights by not attributing me as the author) and by the fact that the splog in question was hosted by Dreamhost (who have offended me by refusing a DMCA take-down request). So I decided that merely issuing a DMCA take-down was not enough. I went through the splog and identified content copied from several major journals (including by a journalist I regard as a friend) as well as by one multi-national corporation – and I notified all the relevant people.

The splog in question deleted all it’s old content the next day, and immediately started copying new articles from other blogs. I have informed the people who appear to be copyright holders for some of the new articles…

I recommend that other people who deal with sploggers also go to the extra effort of notifying other victims. It’s usually quite easy to do you just select a random bit of text from the copied article and paste it into your favourite search engine – usually you get only a single result. Some of the splog posts are edited in small ways so the first search may fail – if so then you merely need to search for a second piece of text. If you only request that your own illegally copied material be taken down then the splogger still has a good business model. They can keep copying content in violation of the license, occasionally take a post down when they get caught, and both the splogger and the ISP continue to make money. If you notify other victims (many of which won’t have the skills to find the content themselves or the background knowledge sufficient to recognise the benefits in having it removed unless you explain it to them) then the splogger loses a lot of content at one go and the ISP will have a more difficult time claiming to be innocent of the process.

Also when you notify multi-national corporations you can expect that they have some decent lawyers and a budget assigned to such work. While I would be extremely unlikely to sue an ISP that repeatedly hosts unauthorised copies of my copyright materiel the same can’t be said for a corporation.

For more information on splogging see the Wikipedia entry [3].

2 comments to Blog Copyright Infringement

  • It would be interesting to see how feasible a tool to help automate some of the grunt-work could be. That is, when fed a splog, fetch the articles, try googling for samples of text in posts (and using context clues such as embedded links), trying different samples to narrow down the likely original source, and extract copyright/author info from meta tags where possible; before presenting the results to the end-user of the program for manual verification prior to firing off prefab emails or somesuch…

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