This article is just what it says on the tin. How to bring the pain when you find some mealy-mouthed thief has attempted to use your own material on his site, with OR without attribution. Fair use is fair use, but grabbing entire articles is not fair. It’s also not legal. And it’s surprisingly easy to lay the smackdown on them when they do this.
Blog scrapers are an entire industry unto themselves; increasingly, thanks to copyright law and international treaties, an industry relegated to third world countries. They do, however, occasionally surface in the first and second worlds, giving original writers the opportunity to deliver what is known as “a learning experience” to the scraper.
It’s been quite a day at The Cryptosphere HQ, kittens. You may have noticed a dearth of new features. That’s because we’ve been up to our fuzzy little ears in DMCA notices (sending, not receiving) and somewhere in the Midwest a young boy cries in his mother’s basement. Because his domain registrar, his web host, his ad provider, and soon his mother, have all recieved notices of Terms of Service violations with DMCA attachments. If you’d like to learn how to wield the sword of justice in similar fashion, please check out this wickedly righteous post from a different blog of mine. Note this is not violation, because I have permission from the copyright holder, moi.
“I assumed they were already in the public domain on other wine review sites and liquor store sites.”
So says Canada’s #1 wine writer, Natalie MacLean, in a statement as disturbing as it is wrong-headed. It seems that, despite seeking legal advice (where, in a bar after closing time?), MacLean is under the bizarre notion that just because copyrighted work is posted to the internet, it is thereby stripped of copyright.
Allow me to disabuse her, and everyone, of this notion once and for all.
All original work published online, whether paid for or not, from CNN.com to the humblest Tumblr, is copyright the creator, as of the moment of publication, automatically and by law.
Web hosts are legally obliged to take offline copyright-infringing content, and they don’t really give a rat’s ass how “important” the blogger is in his/her niche. If they don’t act on a DMCA notice, they risk losing their entire business, and they are not going to take that chance. That’s why this is the heavy-handed, but more productive, way of dealing with copyright infringement. It’s rare that anyone with a blog is stupid or ignorant enough to think they’re really allowed to do this, so asking them is often a lesson in fruitlessness. When their web host removes their entire site from the internet, that teaches them a lesson they won’t forget.
And what can you do about it? Why, that is also covered in that article, but for those of you pressed for time, we present the Cliff’s Notes version:
- Search their site for contact info (they probably won’t post any, since they know they are stealing) particularly an email address
- Find their web host by using a tool like http://www.whoishostingthis.com/ and locate the email there to which one reports abuse
- Determine who supplies their ads, if any, and find the abuse email there
- Find their domain registrar and locate the abuse email there
- Fill out a DMCA notice http://wordpresshacks.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/dmca-complaint-template/
- Send it to all the above
- Have a cocktail. You’ve earned it.
In the case of Adsense, you probably won’t have to wait long. Remarkably for a Google product, they respond very quickly; they don’t email you generally speaking, but they DO examine the report, look at the site, and either remove the ads or replace them with non-revenue-generating nonprofit ads, often within 24 hours.
Now go forth! Go forth and DMCA!
Featured image by Katie Gail on Flickr and used OBVIOUSLY in accordance with her posted CC License.