Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Crash Course in Copyright Infringement

This post is more about my blog than my dog, but I've been mildly enraged about this for a couple of days, so I thought I'd share this information in case anyone else has experienced this issue or in case this is happening to other bloggers without them even being aware of it.

When I first started blogging, I didn't know much about it, and people didn't really know about me. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get my blog to show up in a search engine, so that people would actually know I existed. Since that time, I haven't really Googled the site to see what shows up.

The other night, I was bored and surfing around online and Googled my blog to see what listings would show up. Imagine my surprise when I saw the title of a post that I had written alongside the name of a site I'd never heard of - brokencontrollers.com. They had basically reposted one of my blog posts onto their site, so when people searched for that content, they'd get to the Broken Controllers site instead. From what I could see, they only did that with one of my posts.

I did a bit of a crash course in copyright law by going to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office site and elsewhere online, and then wrote the guy an email informing him that I had not consented to the website copying the content that I had created and reposting it. To his credit, he emailed me back a day or so later informing me that it was removed, and it was. However, there are still other sites I see that repost titles of my blog posts, or the content of my blog posts, that are much less easy to reach than this website was. On another site, I had to leave my annoyed-yet-polite request for them to remove my content in a reply to the post, since their contact form wasn't working. (Ironically, that site had a copyright notice on the bottom of the page - I guess they'll use it to protect their own content, without any regard for anyone else's content! Shameless.)

In theory, I'd have no issue with someone re-posting something I wrote, if they asked for permission first, and received it. After all, don't bloggers blog to initiate discussions about whatever it is they are interested in? And if people post a line or two from my blog because they're interested in the content or have something to say about what I wrote, that probably wouldn't bother me much, if I was credited and it was being done in good faith. But this just left a bad taste in my mouth, because it seems to me that these ploys are designed solely to direct traffic from where it should be going - the blog or website with the actual content that a person is searching for - to these other sites that just re-post the content and really have nothing to do with the content itself. There was no real interest in, or discussion about, what it is that I had posted. While some people might have been content to have another link leading to their blog online, to increase traffic and move their blog up in search results, that's not what I'm interested in. If there's no real connection to or interest in what I'm writing, the way I see it, you're just taking my content, secretively and without my permission, to increase hits to your site. It just doesn't sit right with me.

I just wanted to blog about this because this could be happening to other bloggers without them even realizing it. When is the last time you Googled your own blog? Hopefully you don't find anything out of the ordinary, but if you do, it is good to know that sometimes, all it takes is an e-mail. While I'm not impressed with the initial action by that website, I do appreciate that it didn't take much to get it resolved. Now, we'll see about those other sites that I saw my blog associated with that have no real way to contact whoever the administrator is. I may just have to give up on those ones, for my own sanity.

In the meantime, I did add a little copyright symbol to the bottom of the blog. My understanding is that while content like my blog posts or photos is copyrighted automatically when it is created (at least in Canada), and the symbol doesn't really make it "official" because the copyright exists whether or not that symbol is there, it does show that it is copyrighted, and for me, the symbol brings attention to that fact when otherwise people might not be thinking about it.

Well, now I know, and I'll keep an eye out for this sort of thing happening in the future. I hope other bloggers will too. And I learned a little bit about copyright law - though I wish I hadn't had to!

10 comments:

Schnauzer Days said...

Ooooh, thanks for that info, I don't like the sound of that. It sounds like one of those sites that just gets you there by any means in order to sell you something, and they're also usually full of spam. I'll check mine now, I have a copyright notice but will add a symbol too, thanks for the info xxx

Sugar the Golden Retriever said...

Woof! Woof! Glad you found out early. This happened to my blog ... learned lots of things and one way was able to take down the site that copied from us. NOW we have taken precautions n been great. You can read my previous posts about this (october 2010 - 3 blog posts). If you need additional help we are happy to help you out). Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Wyatt said...

That is really annoying. I'm going to go check it out now, thanks fur the tip.

Wyatt and Mom

Oskar said...

Thanks for all of the information. It's so not cool!

Nubbin wiggles,
Oskar

Amber-Mae said...

This happened to my blog a couple of months back. Hoomie Melissa was SO enraged about it, she left a very nasty, VERY pissed off comment on that person's blog. She also contacted the owner of the website that allows people to start their own blogs, etc & they immediately removed all of my blog posts. I used Copyscape to search who has stolen my posts & that was how I found out about this person who copied 3 of them + pictures too. I check through Copyscape every now & then, just in case someone else decides to do this too.

What you can do to prevent people from stealing your blog stuff is to put up a Copyright Infringement warning message on the top of your blog page so that they see it. You can also disable right click. Get a code where a message will pop up the moment anybody 'right clicks' on your blog. This actually won't prevent people from stealing your posts & pictures because they can still use the left click to do it but atleast they will see the warning if they decide to do that.

Jan's Funny Farm said...

Thanks for posting this. We intended to do it but we hadn't gotten to it. You did a very good job of reporting. Don't know if you noticed but when BC published your post on their site, they also had a download button for some program they don't even identify. They are doing this to possibly thousands of bloggers and not only raising their rankings and making money off it but taking traffic away from you.

OscarBlogger said...

I didn't see any "download" button, but I wasn't looking very closely. I did read about that when I poked around online trying to figure out what was going on. That's pretty sketchy - I don't even want to know what that download button does! Thanks for the suggestions for further information - I'll look into this. I visited Sugar's blog and the term for this is apparently "blog scraping." If I'd known that at the time this happened, I could have Googled this subject much more effectively! :) Unfortunately the other site that has one of my posts up still has the post up, and the comment that I made on the post (not shockingly) doesn't show up. Sigh.

Kolchak Puggle said...

One really great way to thwart "blog scraping" bots is to use a Jump in your post. Blogger has a button that will insert a jump where ever you like, I usually put mine a few sentences in. The jump means that a bot only gets one or two sentences of your post, then a "read more" link back to your real site. We use these on our blog and it has cut the number of times we get scraped by a whole lot.

OscarBlogger said...

That's a really good tip, Kol. Thanks!

Barking Dog Collar for Small Dogs said...

I am sure that this one is showing creativity at its best. They are simply looking great and awesome.

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