I learned this morning that a number of my blogging friends have discovered that a site is publishing entire posts from their sites. Three years ago, I ran into this same problem on my original blog, PixSylated. So, for the benefit of those who’ve just discovered that they’ve been ripped off, I’m republishing my story about fighting a web pirate in 2009. It was a quick fight. Within 24 hours the site was taken down entirely.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides very clear steps on what you should do. SOPA and PIPA are entirely different creatures. The DMCA has been alive and kicking for over 12 years.

To file a DMCA Take-Down Notice, you have to contact the ISP that hosts the offending content. Every ISP has their DMCA procedure buried somewhere on their site. Look for “Legal” in the page footer of the ISP’s homepage. If you follow the steps precisely (as defined by the ISP), a US-based ISP has no choice but to take down the material. If several offenses are reported, it is possible that the entire site will be taken offline.

Finding the ISP that hosts the offending site is the key. I detail the steps and provide search links below. For me, it started with a WhoIs search to determine the IP address for the offending site and then a search for the host of that IP address.

If you have additional resources or insights about fighting web pirates, please add them as a comment. The more that we all know about this, the better the web will be.

 — Originally published on PixSylated.com (used here with permission) —

PhotographerMentors.com Steals Blog Content From Leading Bloggers

By Syl Arena on January 28, 2009 – 9:52 am

I truly believe that our world is a better place because of the open exchange of ideas and information that happens through blogs. For me, that’s why the theft of blog content is such an insult.

photographer_mentorsrips_off_pixsylated

Blogging is hard work. Remember that “blog” rhymes with “flog” and “slog”. To build a blog entirely on the content of others is #1 illegal and #2 lame.

This week a number of bloggers who cover photography around the world discovered that their content had been posted in its entirely and without comment or analysis on PhotographerMentors.com. In addition to a post from PixSylated, I found posts pirated from David Hobby (Strobist), Joe McNally (blog), Scott Kelby (Photoshop Insider), Rob Haggart (A Photo Editor), Chase Jarvis (blog) and many other great bloggers.

The Right Ways To Use Others’ Web Content

The blogosphere is woven together with links and references from one post to another. I love it when other bloggers provide links to my blog. Links are an important component is search engine optimization (“SEO”).

There are sites like StumbleUponTechnoratiDelicious where readers can post links to or bookmark favorite posts. Here’s a snapshot of a post back to PixSylated on StumbleUpon. I’m always grateful for Stumblers and others.

There are sites like Photo News Today Planet5D that aggregate short snippets of content from blogs that cover imagemaking. PNT Planet5D always provides direct links back to the original sources. [note: as of January 26, 2012, PNT is no longer online. As shown below, Planet5D has a similar news aggregator — that blurbed one of my stories this morning. I’m always grateful for this type of coverage.]

The common factor among all of these sites is that #1 they did not extract my posts in their entirety and #2 they provided open and numerous links back to the original posts.

How I Discovered That PixSylated Had Been Ripped Off

I discovered that PixSylated had been ripped off three ways:

  • Kerry Garrison at CameraDojo kindly sent emails to a number of bloggers after he discovered that his blog had been ripped off by PhotographerMentors.com.
  • it popped up in my daily report from Google Alerts.
  • the offending post showed up as a pingback to PixSylated.

How I Fought PhotographerMentors.com

Thanks to the encouragement of Kerry at CameraDojo, I pursued this theft with a vengeance. The more people who push back against stolen web content, the faster the issue will be resolved. The more people who know about it, the less likely it is to happen again (at least by the same guy).

1. I tried to contact the blogger directly through a link or information from his site. No surprise that there was nothing on the site that would help me here.

2. I did a WhoIs search at GoDaddy (search link here) to find out who owns the URL.

3. I sent a takedown demand to the contacts listed in the WhoIs search. The guy who owns the site wrote back “My apologies. The material was removed. I thought only an excerpt was posted but was wrong.”

4. I determined the IP address for PhotographerMentors.com by using the IP search tool at Network-Tools.com.

5. I determined the ISP from the IP address by using the same search tool at Network-Tools.com.

6. I pulled up the legal page at website of the ISP for the offending site — turns out it was ThePlanet.com. [note: as of January 26, 2012, this URL now forwards to SoftLayer.com– their legal page here).

7. I followed the detailed instructions for filing a DMCA complaint (“Digital Millennium Copyright Act”). Be exact. If you miss one step, the ISP can ignore you. Give them all the info in the form they require and they have to respond promptly.

8. I emailed the details of my complaint to many other impacted bloggers along with a link to the material stolen from their sites and a request that they also file a DMCA complaint with the ISP. Several did so immediately.

9. I blogged about my experience to let even more people know.

10. I posted about the experience on web forums hosted by ASMPAPA and others.

11. I emailed every blogger I know and asked them to spread the word. Photo Attorney was one of the first to join the cause.

12. I emailed the presidents of every ASMP and APA chapter across the country and asked them to let their local members know.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Resources

If you find that your site has been ripped off, check out the following:

 

11 Responses to What To Do When A Web Pirate Rips Off Your Blog Posts

  1. Chris Gampat says:

    Thanks so such for this Syl.

    -Chris Gampat
    Editor in Chief
    The Phoblographer

  2. Chris says:

    That was a good article, but it makes me think of you as a bit of a snob with too much time to spend torturing some guy. I’m sure this happens lots, in fact I bet you take things infringing on others work too. The Internet is a sad place if were going to be so strict. It’s freedom of information. I’d be happy if they just credited you. It’s not Korea man. Chill out.

    • Syl Arena says:

      @Chris – If taking offense at someone lifting entire posts and copying them into their blog without any credit or attribution earns me the title \”snob\”, then yes I am a snob. To address your accusation about my infringing on others, would you kindly review my sites and point out an instance in which I\’ve infringed? I have never lifted an entire post and published it as my own. Sure, as I did in this article, I do use materials from other sites and provide both attribution and links back to the source. That is the difference between infringement and appropriate use.

      • Richard says:

        Yeah, there’s a difference between sharing info you find useful and or interesting and plagiarism.

        There’s a reason you get kicked out of universities for the latter, it’s morally and legally wrong.

  3. Nick says:

    Thanks for the post Syl, extremely helpful

  4. chris says:

    Im not really on your case mate, I like your blogs and value them but chasing someone down is a bit OTT if they took it off and said sorry.

    Regards copyrighted material. I’m guessing you use the internet lots to pull your material off, eg google images, other artists works, 99% of people do it, even if not by intention. But ignore me. Im just saying.

    • Syl Arena says:

      @Chris – Thanks for the clarification. For simple usage, sure, it’s often easy enough to contact the poster and say “Hey, how about giving me a link and text credit?”

      The pirates who harvest posts in their entirety and then assemble them with other stolen posts to create an entire site do not typically have a contact link on their site. So then the only option is to chase them down via a DMCA take-down notice. That was the case for me in 2009. That is the case for those who discovered the stolen posts this morning. Cheers!

  5. […] What To Do When A Web Pirate Rips Off Your Blog Posts | Speedliting | Syl Arena on Lighting & Fl…. […]

  6. This sucks and I’m glad you are taking care of business and are sharing with others how you managed to use the system to protect your content.

    The naysayers obviously didn’t read your post closely – you clearly state that you’re not talking about people using blurbs or quotes and crediting/linking to you. These type of sites that harvest entire blog posts are a nuisance and need to be taken down. Period.

    I hope you know that I (and many of us I’m sure) appreciate the fact that you share so much of what you know with us.

    Thank again and best of luck in the future.

  7. Richard Lofton says:

    Thank you for this post. I have been a blog reader for years and I have learned a lot from yours and others. Having just started a brand new photography blog has given me a whole new view for what goes into creating new and compelling content. Not to mention the completely new knowledge that is essential to build the site and getting it out to readers. My blog being so new every word, and picture is solely my own and the inference, made by some, that everybody on the net infringes on others work is just offensive. I hope to soon be sharing some articles and blogs by others that I have found helpful and entertaining but to not give credit and the courtesy of a link is just theft the author’s imaginative energy. Thanks again for all the effort you put in to sharing your knowledge.

  8. Cindy says:

    Thanks for writing about this. Art theft has started consuming enough of my time that I’ve started reducing the number of images I have online even though I sell prints, etc, from a Print On Demand type site. I also add the © and my name even to the images that are for prints, despite the opinions of some that it detracts from the work. (I keep it reasonable in size and placement.) On images not for prints, I use only small size low resolution versions and put the © and name larger and more prominently. Periodically, I do a reverse image search on all my online images, and then send any necessary ‘cease & desists’ or DMCA takedown notices. The site I sell my work on is a good art community and copyright issues are a frequent topic. I have info about it my “journal” there, as do many members, and it helps us all to network about it. When copyright theft cuts into my painting time, or my self-marketing time, it’s a type of “damage” that a dollar figure could be put on. There is an effort to create a process for “copyright small claims” in the U.S. Thieves should take notice that perhaps the day is coming when they will be sued for these little crimes, and have to pay actual money, not just take something down.

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