Adventures in copyright theft

You know how people are always saying imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Yeah, that sucks.

On Friday, Terry and I went to dinner with my parents. When we got home, I decided to have a quick look at my web stats for the day, because yes, I am that obsessed. On this occasion, though, my obsession turned out to be a good thing – and that’s something I’ve never been able to say before – because on this occasion, the referrers for my Big-Blogger blog turned up a site I hadn’t seen before.

"Why, some lovely person has linked to my blawg!" I thought. "I will visit that person’s site right now!"

So I did. And found myself reading… my own posts. Yes, the swines had copied every single entry I’d ever written at Big-Blogger, and pasted them into their own site, lock, stock and every last one of my smoking barrels. They had basically replicated my entire site, stealing thousands and thousands of words and passing them off as their own. WELL. Unluckily for them, I’d had a couple of glasses of wine that night, so I immediately set about leaving comments on the stolen entries (needless to say, there were no contact details on the site, or I think I’d have overcome my phone phobia pretty damn quick) saying that the content had been illegally copied from me, and that the bill would be in the post, along with a lawyer’s letter.

By the time I’d written two of these comments (and Terry had tracked down the name of the company hosting the site, so I could complain to them, too), an email had flooded in, claiming to be from the "administrator of the site". I reproduce it here for your amusement:

"i’m the administrator of those wordpress instalations a haven’t know about
ilegal content. i’m sending emails to get down all content inmediatly. thanks
for the advice. you will be notifiel soon as posilbe."

Ha! Of course, I wrote back, saying I didn’t care if he "haven’t know" about it, it needed to be deleted immediately: otherwise I would be sending him a bill for the stolen content, and would be charging $1 per word for it. (No, I don’t know why I went all American on his ass. Must’ve been the wine talking). Meanwhile, I started drafting whiny, complainy emails to the web hosts and Google. And also to my mum, but don’t you do that if you ever find yourself in the same position, because there’s really nothing she can do about it, OK?

Anyway. I didn’t need to send my emails in the end because by the time I clicked back onto the thieving asshats’ website to give Google the link, it had been deleted. Amber – 1, Thieving Asshats – nil. Take that, thieving asshats! (And party).

So yes, that was my Friday night. And, of course, I had always known that this kind of thing happens on the Interwebs all the time, but because I am a bit dim sometimes, I had been working on the assumption that it would not happen to me. Do not do as I do, kids. They picked the wrong person to mess with, though. Oh yes. ‘Cos I’m a survivor! I’m not gonna give up! I’m not gonna stop! I’ma work harder! Or something.

(Needless to say, the "administrator" of the site never did "notofiel" me that it had been deleted. Funny, that.)

6 Comments

  • Shame, I was eager to find out exactly what a ‘notofiel’ was.

  • Sara says:

    Hmm.. sounds like some sort of German cuisine… oh well

  • Jen says:

    Bloody hell!! That’s just not on at alll….but I too was most intrigued by a ‘notofiel’, Cadfael’s illiterate relative, perhaps?

    Oh, and I had a rather loud guffaw at:

    “..Take that, thieving asshats! (And party).”

    Fantastic!

  • Sarah says:

    I was impressed by your story Adventures in copyright theft, and I think what if my content is also stolen or will be stolen in future…
    Your blog is very interesting, Amber!

    I’ve posted your story on WritersClub forum. I hope you don’t mind, because I want to share it with my friends
    It’s here:
    http://www.writersclub.net/plagiarism_issues/adventures_in_copyright_theft-t86.0.html;msg478;boardseen#new

    Best wishes, Sarah

  • Amber says:

    Hi Sarah, thanks for your comments, and I’m really flattered that you’d want to share my entry with your friends.

    The thing is, though, by publishing my writing elsewhere without my permission (I see you’ve copied and pasted my entire entry into your forum, rather than just linking to it), you have also just stolen my work. Which is ironic, no?

    I realise you have the best of intentions, and I know you just wanted to warn your friends about copyright theft, but actually committing copyright theft yourself isn’t the best way to do that. I appreciate that you’ve linked back to this site, thereby attributing the post to me, but you really shouldn’t re-publish someone’s writing without asking their permission first. This is a personal blog, and I would really prefer not to have my entries replicated on other websites.

    There’s an article here on blogs and copyright which you may find useful:

    http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=3032

    Again, I’m very flattered that you liked the post, and I am more than happy for you to post a link to it on your forum, but people stealing my work and republishing it is exactly what I was complaining about in this entry.

  • Liz says:

    Er…Sarah? What Amber said!

    The same thing happened to me about six months ago – the blog copying my content was hosted by Blogger, and I was able to get Blogger to shut it down after a few intemperate emails. It seems to be quite a common problem, but at least the hosting companies are fast at taking the things down once they’ve been notified.

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