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Melanie's Wine Reviews,Profiles,Wine

Is this the future for wine bloggers? Having to police our own blogs from thieves

This week seems to have a barrage of people who have decided that the way for them to make a little extra money is to take a blog’s content through an RSS feed, and let that blog’s content make money for them through Google ads.

Honestly, it takes a lot of click-throughs to make much money, but assume that you’ve got another job, and so you just take time to set this up (for the long haul)…

Then, viola! Checks begin to come in. After the first couple of checks come in, you’ve paid for:

  • hosting
  • domain name
  • time to set all of this up

But, what does this do for the person who’s being aggregated with absolutely no mention of where that original content was taken?

Well, it ticked me off, I can tell you that.

So upset, in fact,  that I wrote the following to the perp where I found my last four posts creating his new blog… for the past four days:

Dear _____ of Brooklyn NY: Cease and Desist. You are using my content and images with this wine blog, which belong to me, with absolutely no reference to www.wine-blog.org, of Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz. You DO NOT have my permission to use any of the material for use on this site, by stealing my content.

I have a copyright on my blog for a reason, and that is to not have anyone profit – unknowingly – from my hard work.

Note: Copyright © 2009 Wine Blog All rights reserved.

Please remove my content immediately.

I have all of your information if I need to refer to it legally.

The real rub is that HIS site has a copyright, which means that he’s copyrighting my material.

I didn’t give you his name, because I’m protecting his right to privacy; however, you can see that finding out who he is and where he is located doesn’t allow for him to continue in an undisclosed way. (More respect than he gave me.)

I DO NOT have a problem with being aggregated, when I am still the author and a link is given back to my site. That benefits everyone.

What I do object to is having my content on some else’s site as his own. (I write “his” because so far it’s been guys doing this. I’m not being sexist. Just show me a woman who’s doing the same, and she’ll be given equal opportunity.)

One blogger this week asked someone to Cease and Desist, by commenting on the blogger’s posts – on the blogger’s own blog entries – that were now placed on someone else’s site. Sounds like a reasonable request, huh? He had stolen this content, and the blogger was telling him to take it down. (No where on that site is an Email to this guy. He left no opportunity for an average reader to give him feedback, except through comments.)

Here’s a snap shot of this guy’s reaction, like he was doing the blogger a great service. Now, remember, he titled the work as his own, and never stated from where the content had originated:

1. He accused the blogger of harassing him with spam… of all things.

2. He told the blogger that this person had no idea how copyright law is associated with a blog / syndication, in a very rude manner.

3. He believes that the RSS feed link at the top of a blog and posts is enough credit for the origin.

4. He believes that the RSS feed gives the blogger more search engine optimization visibility.

5. He believes that bloggers acknowledge the above when they publish a work on a site with syndicated feeds. In fact, part of why bloggers write, he claimed, is to reach the largest possible audience; heavy syndication and high marks on social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, and Technorati, are exactly what bloggers want. Then, he reminded the blogger that all the syndication links for those posts still pointed to her site. What he failed to understand is that although there was an RSS feed, he never gave the author credit, instead he had his own name in the author’s position under the title. He didn’t state the origin, but instead allowed it to be buried on the site in a not so obvious way. People who are readers and not bloggers don’t think to go to an RSS feed button looking for the author. When we land on a site, there’s an assumption,unless the authors are listed individually, that the site is owned, operated, and populated by the author that’s indicted. In this instance, by the site’s author.

6. He told the blogger that the site has an RSS feeds turned on…. Then insulted the bloggers intelligence, instead of apologizing.

7. He told the blogger that the site previously syndicated had been removed, in order to avoid an email inbox spammed with the blogger’s stupid comments. Then went on to say that any further harassment and the blogger will be hearing from his lawyer.

This is clearly not someone who understands copy right laws. If we write it and copy right it, we own the rights of the copy. We own the right to say who can and who cannot use it.

To the credit of the person who had stolen my content, he just shut the site down, in his words, “indefinitely.” This he didn’t have to do. All he would have had to do, though, is give credit where credit is due. I know this blog is aggregated all over the Internet, and I have no problem with that. It does everything the above perpetrator states, but it is done in such a way that credit is given to the author, not lifted as one’s own, and collecting advertising money on the works of others without permission.

What’s a person to do?

  • Be vigilant
  • About once a week, take a two week old blog title (so it’s now established through a Google search)
  • Place the exact title in your search bar
  • Do the search, to see where it pops up
  • Check to see if you’re the author, or has the copy become the new site owner’s story, images included

Is this the future for wine bloggers? Having to police their own blogs.

Yes, until we rant and rave ENOUGH to the FTC.

I have to ask myself, “Isn’t a blog about journaling?”

It is in my case, and welcome to my world today. This is what’s on my mind, before I go write a plan for the next big project.

5 Responses to “Is this the future for wine bloggers? Having to police our own blogs from thieves”

  1. Mike Duffy says:

    Hi, Jo.

    In cases where someone steals your copyrighted content, sending their Internet Service Provider (ISP) a detailed note about the violation will generally get action. All ISPs have an abuse@ e-mail to deal with these types of problems.

    Your lawyer can also send a cease-and-desist letter via snail-mail, with copies to the ISP. This tends to make things happen, since most people don’t want to have to deal with lawyers. As you demonstrated, you don’t *need* a lawyer to do this, but receiving a C&D from a law firm on their letterhead packs a bit more punch when the violator is being recalcitrant.

    And yes, there’s actually a service that checks copyright violations online. They have some good suggestions.
    some suggestions for dealing with Web plagiarists
    .

  2. Arthur says:

    There is another way to deal with this:

    Kill your RSS feed.

  3. michael donohue says:

    Feel for you-everyone deserves rec/$ at some rate

  4. Jo says:

    Thanks for your empathy, Michael.

    When I’m blogging, I’m doing it for the fun of it (mostly… this one wasn’t as much fun), and the freedom to express the information I’ve learned with others… For anyone who reads my material, it’s for them to, for whatever they get out of it.

    It’s just fun to get all this information out of my head and stored on the WWW.

    I don’t even care about the aggregation, because it furthers the word; but, that’s aggregation with credit where credit is due.

    However, minuscule compensation comes from this. It’s more about the satisfaction. I give the ad dollars I get from the few ads I have to my IT, because my webmaster’s on call 24/7. Let’s just say, he won’t get rich soon, as we’ve only made about $300 on this blog… total. I can earn that in less than three hours. And – for perspective – it took at least 3 hours to write today’s blog.

    I have over 600 blog entries on this site. If I were paid for my copy writing services, I’d have well over $500,000… all for $300?

    The math is nuts, but not as nuts as the people who think they can steal my content and I’m going to just roll over. I know how to go onto the back end of what they’re doing and find out their names, where they live, phone number, Email, etc. This all makes it very easy for the Cyber police. I can just snag the evidence, and there you go… Instant case. Haven’t had to call Cyber Police yet, but I will, if I have to. I own my own material… It’s all from my life’s experiences. They need to go out and get their own lives… That simple.

  5. Leah McNally says:

    I’ve heard some buzz about problem with food/recipe bloggers, and I don’t think its an exclusively male phenomenon. Thank you for the suggestions. We all need to be vigilant and police for stolen content.
    Good luck to you. I hope you are able to stop the thief.

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