Blog plagiarism — Steal this blog!

As usual, Mike over at TechDirt has what I think is a nice take on the blog plagiarism (or ‘splog’) problem that has afflicted some top bloggers, including Om Malik and TechCrunch. Mike’s response boils down to this: Ignore it (and it’s worth reading his reply to some of the comments his post got too).

Is wholesale blog-copying wrong? Obviously. Is Google making money from the AdSense ads that run on such sites? Yes. But I don’t think that means Google needs to police the problem, as Jeff Jarvis and some others believe. Do we really want Google to become a de facto website-content policeman? I would argue that we don’t.

Even Om isn’t sure what kind of response he wants to see. I have a hunch that Mike is right — anyone who matters will quickly realize that such sites aren’t adding any value, and therefore any AdSense revenue they gain will be fleeting at best. Maybe there’s a touch of Pollyanna in that, but I think the “reputation economy” — or whatever you want to call what we’re all doing here — should be more of a self-regulating mechanism.

As James Robertson notes, the issue of “fair use” is definitely a very grey area, since it covers feed aggregators as well as plogs. So what should be done? By all means, send the splogger a threatening note mentioning the DMCA (although be aware that you are using a badly-formed law that plenty of people dislike for plenty of very good reasons), but leave Google out of it.

10 thoughts on “Blog plagiarism — Steal this blog!

  1. I’m not saying that Google needs to be the policeman for all but Google should try to assure that its services are not being used to defraud advertisers and steal from writers. And others should take care of their own messes. If you were an isp and someone were using you to spam the world with email, wouldn’t you listen to requests to shut the spammer down? Same goes for this. It is theft and fraud.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jeff. I’m not necessarily saying that Google
    shouldn’t take action in cases of obvious site-scraping — but I don’t
    think the first impulse in every case should be to file suit against
    Google or drop DMCA summonses or whatever.

    Anyway, thanks for dropping by.

  3. Matthew: Agreed. I was hoping that Google would do something on its own. But sometimes, a little lawyering helps motivate the unmotivated. But I, too, dread lawyers .

  4. Mathew: DMCA notices are just a sad reality right now. It used to be that you could handle copyright issues by just going straight to the abuse team of a site. Abuse teams would check the evidence to make sure the case is reasonable, take appropriate action and do it more quickly than a DMCA notice. DMCA notices, which have to go through lawyers, take forever, offer no protection to the plaintiff and offer only one recourse.

    Still, I use them regularly and teach my readers how to do so as well, though only begrudgingly. I don’t like the law, but it’s a fact of life and the only way to get things done. It’s the way the Web hosts wanted it and the way they got it.

    Sad but true.

    Thank you for the interesting article and for helping to shed some light on this issue!

  5. Pingback: Internet Marketing Exposed - Plagiarism Check - What To Do with a Content Thief

  6. I personally use the http://www.copygator.com website to find duplicated content. To me it has a number of benefits over copyscape and copyrightspot:

    1. it's automated and brings me results instead of me searching for duplicated content. All i had to do was submit my feed and it started monitoring my feed showing me who's republished my articles on the web.

    2. i get notified by email so it contacts me when it finds copies of my articles online.

    3. i use their image badge feature to alert me directly on my website when my content is being lifted.

    4. it's a free service as opposed the “per page” cost of copyscape/copysentry.

  7. I personally use the http://www.copygator.com website to find duplicated content. To me it has a number of benefits over copyscape and copyrightspot:

    1. it's automated and brings me results instead of me searching for duplicated content. All i had to do was submit my feed and it started monitoring my feed showing me who's republished my articles on the web.

    2. i get notified by email so it contacts me when it finds copies of my articles online.

    3. i use their image badge feature to alert me directly on my website when my content is being lifted.

    4. it's a free service as opposed the “per page” cost of copyscape/copysentry.

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