Monday, October 4, 2010

Online Plagiarism

If you're not reading this at The Diabetic's Corner Booth, then you're reading content that has been stolen and is being used without permission. Any unauthorized re-posting of this content will be considered a violation of my intellectual property legal rights and will be dealt with accordingly.

Someone is stealing my blog content. Is "stealing" too strong a word? No. I don't think it is, because what I am writing here is being re-posted somewhere else without my permission. That's stealing.

More accurately, I'd dub it online plagiarism. In my world as a journalist, this flies in the face of that cardinal rule of not lifting other people's writing even with permission. People lose their jobs over this in the business world. You get a failing grade in the academic world. It's the No. 1 No-No, and yet it's happening here in the online world.

Specifically, a site called Clean Natural Living is the culprit.

Hey, Clean Natural Living: I'm talking to you.

But while my post here is directed at this site because of specific stolen material of mine, it's bigger than this blog and even the Diabetes Online Community. It goes to an unfortunate trend in the online universe that becomes even more frequent in the Age of Facebook where we talk more by keyboard than we do by actual voice. Our typed words take the place of actual conversation and there's more of it appearing online, giving more access to what we're saying and thinking and sometimes allowing it in such a way that greedy types target what we're doing to feed their greed.

UPDATE: As of mid-afternoon, it turns out that fellow D-Blogger K2 has had her material stolen by another site and she's written about this today, also. Some online Twitter discussion has revealed this to be a larger problem for many in the DOC - as of 4 p.m., we'd discovered 6 sites posting content of at least 10 bloggers. This was just a quick review of these sites we knew of, and while some did include links to the original, many did not and the material wasn't attributed (according to both what my IP attorney has told me and also based on my own experience as a journalist quite familiar with the Rules of Attribution.) UPDATE END.

In my case here, word arose about this happening from a fellow D-Blogger who alerted me one day that he'd received a ping about one of my recent posts appearing somewhere else. He forwarded a link, and I followed to find several of my posts going back to mid-September had been posted on this other site without my express authority.

At first, I thought someone might just be taking my writing and re-posting it there. Upon further examination, it became more clear that this might be a "fake" site with auto-generated content and comments. Most of the posts were YouTube videos. Many had the same number of 25 comments, and those responses often looked as though they'd be written by individuals with the maturity of a pre-teen.

Something didn't smell right about this.

In analyzing even more how this might be happening, I learned more about the world of site scraping and the use and misuse of RSS Feeds. Apparently, some sites can tap into your posts by subscribing to the RSS Feeds and that somehow allows them to automatically repost. Each night after I've posted my material on my own blog, it magicially appears unedited over there - even the little disclaimers that alert "scrapers" that this shouldn't be done.

My emails to the purported site operator (apparently based in the Philippines), as well as to the host provider and advertising affiliates with this site, have gone unanswered in the 10 days since I've initially reached out. I've changed my RSS Feed practice so that I'm not generating any RSS Feed - something I think might be better than even having only the first graph gets posted. Basically, now you must come to my blog to see the content. (I am sorry, DOCers, if this disrupts your routine!). All are off now, except of course for this one which I've allowed to be posted IN FULL so that it will likely appear at the above-mentioned site that's causing all the chaos.

I've also taken the steps to fill out a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint, which Blogger has an online form for "victims" to use in this exact type of case. Of course, I hear the process moves at a snail's pace so I'm not holding my breath for any response or action.

So here we are. It has come to this post, which I have no doubt will appear both here and on the above-mentioned content stealing site. Maybe it won't be reviewed prior to going up, but maybe anyone who stumbles across this site will see it and know what's happening. Maybe the provider and ad suppliers will see it, and it'll make them aware. Whatever the result, at least this allows me to vent.

What annoys me the most about this online stealing is that someone else is profiting from what I am writing about my own life. Mostly, that's diabetes focused. But they are making money, while my posts that actually do appear here on The Diabetic's Corner Booth are not garnering me any cash. I'm not doing this for money or profit or anything like that - it's for myself, for advocating on something that's bigger than me. If someone else wants to refer to my work here, that's fine. As long as I get credit. But they're taking my words and cutting the me out of them.

So, I've now entered a world that until recently hasn't been a fully-understood one. But with my continuing online advocacy and regular writing online, this was probably inevitable in the 21st century. I've now become aware of these "junk" websites using authentic posts of others as filler, and those random newsfeeds on spam blogs (splogs?). These spots look like a human being has done the work, not a bot. They might at first seem legit, but they aren't.

This is my blast about this despicable practice, for whatever it's worth.

To me, web-etiquette is that you should get permission (by email this should be fairly simple) from any author to repost their content. Bloggers and other creators of Web content own the intellectual property rights of their content, unless they have been paid for the rights to that content. No one pays me, so I own these IP rights. (my IP attorney tells me). There are great ways to appreciate another blogger, to say to someone: "Kudos, fellow writer, I love what you do!" But stealing their online content isn't flattery. It's stealing. Legally-punishable stealing.

So, be warned Clean Natural Living and whatever other content-stealers are lurking within the Diabetes Online Community and beyond. We're watching for you, and we'll work together to make sure you don't get away with this for long.

12 comments:

Heidi / D-Tales said...

Oh, Michael, I'm so sorry! I am a fellow journalist and blogger. I'm also the mother of a seven-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with T1D nearly 3 years ago. Plagiarism is just so wrong and so upsetting. I hope that this post is scraped without review, and CNL readers realize CNL is an ugly fake!

Reyna said...

WOW. I had no idea this kind of stuff happens Michael. Good for you for finding out about it, investigating how it is done, and taking steps to remedy the issue...and then for disseminating the information to your fellow DOC members. I appreciate it.

Thank You.

Cara said...

I'm so sorry. This sucks. It's happened to me before. I don't understand what these websites get out of stealing our content. I'm sorry you are no longer doing an RSS feed, but it just means I'll have to try a little harder to keep up. Don't worry about it. Your real readers/friends will continue to seek out your blog.

Renata said...

I think you handled it perfectly as you always do. With up-front honesty and in your face disapproval.

Faye said...

I just Googled the site and they actually have THIS very post, with the disclaimer, on it. Wow.

The poor diabetic said...

Shame shame shame on these fools....An swift ass kickn is definitely needed

alyssacr said...

Will you still post the titles to the RSS feed so readers know to check your website for the full story? That would be helpful because I'm going to admit that I won't be able to keep checking the actual site. I hope there's some way to still hear from you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, this is Jed, the owner of cleannaturalliving.info.

First I am very sorry for not asking for your permission for your content.

My intention was to create a site that links to diabetes related sites as a sort of online links repository - nothing more.

My wife is suffering from DM too. She has since our first born child and been diagnosed with GDM. Since then she is now diagnosed as a full DM type II.

My only purpose was to create a sort of lifehacker.com site which lists relevant blogs and tips about DM and diabetic diet in general.

I did not know that the scripts installed in my site actually did post the actual content. I am really sorry for this.

I will now be removing all content from this site pending review of all the running scripts.

Again, I am truly sorry for all this.

- Jed R. Mallen

thisiscaleb said...

Hm, for some reason I cannot find this site via google, but I do think that many of Caleb's videos have shown up there. The comments that accompany the videos seem to be exact from YouTube.

So did you shut them down or do I have inept google skills? :)

I believe you are still in my RSS feed. I got both yesterday's and today's posts in my google reader, though they are only the first paragraph now and I think they used to be the entire post.

Sysy said...

So sorry this is happening to your material. It is wrong. Because I don't want to deal with plagiarism and for other reasons...my stuff is uncopywrited. Kind of experimental, i know...

Alkaline Foods said...

Great stuff from you, man. Ive read your stuff before and youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. I cant wait to read more from you. This is really a great blog.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff, I like the beginning of your post: "If you're not reading this at The Diabetic's Corner Booth, then you're reading content that has been stolen and is being used without permission." Plagiarizing can be really annoying especially when you have put so much hard work in to it. In this technological age it's happen very often. for that I check from time to time my work for plagiarism at PlagTracker.com Their service uses a vast amount of resources in plagiarism checking and offers up to 10 papers check for FREE.
http://www.plagtracker.com/#