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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Getting Blogger to Respond to Content Theft

If you were here a week ago, you'll know that I was furious about my blog being copied wholesale — title, description, posts, categories, web badges, even my profile and photograph. The person's motive for this left me bewildered, as the cloned site linked back to me all over the place.

I have since learned that such theft is becoming quite common, usually motivated by an intent to exploit your content for displaying the thief's AdSense ads. But this idiot left my original ad in the duplicate version. He even left my copyright message intact, for pete's sake!

Concerned about being penalized by Google for duplicate domain spam, I responded immediately with a post about the problem. I then began the frustrating process of communicating with Google and Blogger to let them know that the duplicate content was not mine and to request removal of the offending site.

It took a week, and numerous emails back and forth to Blogger, to get the cloned site removed. That process is worth sharing here in case you encounter similar content theft.

The initial response from Blogger was not helpful. I received a terse boilerplate reply informing me that:

Blogger is a provider of content creation tools, not a mediator of that content. We allow our users to create blogs, but we don't make any claims about the content of these pages. In cases where contact information for the author is listed on the page, we recommend working directly with this person to have this information removed or changed.

There was no contact information on the cloned blog other than my own, and no way to reach or communicate with this person. A battery of emails ensued between me and Blogger. Eventually, Blogger responded with an email containing a cryptic clue:

Based on our policies regarding content removal, we are unable to remove the content in question. However, please be aware that your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so that it will not appear as potential spam.
Aha! Someone has reviewed the situation and given Random Bytes the seal of approval. But who? Blogger? Google? Both of them? Only when I asked why would Blogger not have policies around this type of illicit use and pointed out that this is a clear violation of my copyright, did Blogger respond with helpful information. That email acknowledged that Blogger does indeed have a policy of responding to notices of infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It also outlined, in detail, the process for filing such a notice. You can find the content of that email in this text file.

I followed the steps described in that email a week ago. After one final email entreaty from me, Blogger removed the offending site yesterday. Interesting journey, and encouraging to know that these faceless companies will act when pressed hard enough by their customers.

Lorelle on WordPress has published an excellent series of articles on this topic. For more on how to protect yourself from content theft, visit these links:


Grafxgurl said...

ooo!! thats wonderful! im glad they sent the person packing!...i guess blogger should be a little more protective of the ones they " approve" of ...

Lorelle said...

Good for you, Pam, for seeing it through. AWESOME. I'm sorry it took so long, but you did right and thanks for sharing this with everyone. It is so important that we learn from others about how this works, how to stop it, and how to prevent it.

You are a star. Thank you!

Pam said...

Grafxgurl: I'm not sure if they should be approving or disapproving of the people who host blogs on their servers, but it raises an interesting point. What about hate/porn/violent blogs? Hmmm.

Lorelle: At the risk of sounding like a mutual admiration society, thank YOU for all your informtive articles. They helped point me in the right direction. I love your blog. It's one of my daily feeds.

Greenknight said...

Is there a way, that the content won't be copied?

Pam said...

Not that I'm aware of.

us5rus5j said...

Oh, no! The content which you distribute without charge was duplicated and credited to you!


Pam said...

The issue is domain spam, which Google doesn't take to kindly.