Auto Blogging and Copyright Infringement

Copyright Into Infinity
Copyright Into Infinity (Photo credit: Post-Software)

By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer)

I started the Daily Creative Writer blog for a few reasons.  I wanted to reconnect with my creative side.  I wanted to hold myself accountable to my writing.  I wanted to connect with other writers.  I wanted to share some of my tips, tricks and success stories.  I wanted to promote some of my favorite books and authors.

In short, I wanted to participate in the online community and find a creative outlet.

I hoped my efforts would be entertaining, insightful and inspiration.

What I had not anticipated was the power of “autoblogging” and the culture of plagiarism and copyright infringement that follows in the wake of sincere and original blogging efforts.

It was by accident – a spam comment that managed to slip through – that I discovered that my content was being copied whole and being reposted on other websites.  These websites are not the creation of well-meaning fans or even relevant content aggregators.  These websites are pure spam websites – created, one can only imagine, for the sole purpose of generating hits and increasing ad revenue.  You can tell the difference easily – a legitimate site that is reposting your content for a legitimate reason (I’ll get to that in a second) will have contact information that’s easily accessible.  An illegitimate site has circuitous links that always lead you back to where you started.

If you find you’re the victim of autoblogging, then my sympathies are with you.  It’s shocking to see your content somewhere else, especially on a site called “BritneySpearsGossip” or “24-7Plumbers.”  These are not legit websites.  While I’d rather have my content stay on my web page, I feel that if someone is a real fan, or they operate a news or blog aggregator with the purpose of promoting other bloggers, then reposting while not preferable, is at least it’s acceptable. Autoblogging, on the other hand, debases your original content, makes it part of a shady, revenue producing, spam site.

This is not why I started a blog.

Here are the steps I’ve taken – based on hours of internet research – to try and get this content removed from the autobloggers.

1) Use a “Who Is” directory to track down the DNS and Hosting Info for the website.

2) Craft a DMCA takedown notice for both the host and the search engines (like Google Ad Sense). (here’s a good resource: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/stock-letters/)

3) Send the notice as both an email and in hard copy through USPS.

4) Add a byline and a copyright notice under the title of every blog entry. (Here’s mine: By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer)

5) Add a footer at the bottom of each blog – you can use a widget, but I’d also include it in the text as well, so that a blatant copy paste will still include it – that states that if this content is being read on any other site besides yours, it’s been reposted without your permission and is a DMCA copyright violation.  Here’s what my footer looks like: All Content is the sole Property of Elizabeth Cutright and The Daily Creative Writer, if you are reading this blog on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA. © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

That’s what I’ve done so far.  The response I’ve received from the WordPress community is that, as a whole, nobody likes this autoblogging option.  Many people feel it enables copyright violations and content theft. (http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/when-are-you-going-to-disable-autoblogging-its-just-blatant-stealing?replies=5#post-972771)

Let me know what you think in the comments.

I’ll post updates if anything changes.

09/06/12

Latest update.

It looks like most of my content has been removed from the offending websites.  It was certainly an annoying process, but at least it was successful.  I should give a shout out to Singlehop ( abuse@singlehop.com or netops@singlehop.com) not only did they effectively and efficiently remove the copyrighted content, they even called me to follow up on my DCMA complaint.  I am actually quite impressed with the way they handled this situation and feel confident that I can get similar instances cleared up in the future.

It also appears that the copyright warnings I’ve included on my blog posts are working.  In the last months, my blog has not suffered a similar attack.  It could also mean that it’s the same group of perpetrators that I listed above that participate in this kind of activity – maybe once you fight back they cross you off their list.

Let me know if you’ve had any similar circumstances in the comments.  I’ll also try to answer any questions I can, or at least send you in a helpful direction.

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6 thoughts on “Auto Blogging and Copyright Infringement

  1. Thank you for posting this, I’m not sure if I’ve had that type of infringement and autoblogging as you have had, but I have shared excerpts of a book I’m writing and wondered what I need to do to protect my writing. I’m sorry you’ve had to experience this and hope that through bringing these issues to light, more and more of us can unite and, perhaps, result in change such that it’s not so easy to “autoblog”. Be well, Elizabeth!

    1. Hi Kristy,
      I think the mistake I made initially – that I’m now rectifying post-by-post – is not adding copyright warnings on everything I post online. It won’t stop them from copying your stuff (in fact, the original post is still being recopied by autoblogging spammers, even after I made changes and added my warnings), but at least if they autoblog it or copy paste it, your name and your copyright protection will be included. I’ve also added this warning to the bottom of all my posts (it’s probably overkill, but I don’t care):All Content is the sole Property of Elizabeth Cutiright and The Daily Creative Writer, if you are reading this blog on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA. © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

      I don’t mind if it’s a “mutual admiration society” sort of thing, and someone’s reposting my stuff because they genuinely like it and want people to be aware of my work and perhaps feel like we might have something in common, but these spammer-autobloggers are a completely different breed.
      The DCMA is problematic, but at least it does offer some protection.
      Good luck and thanks for all your support and comments – I appreciate it!
      Elizabeth

  2. Wow! Thanks for doing the research presented here. I started blogging for the exact same reasons as you, and I think maybe got carried away with the thrill of seeing my stuff in print without thinking about potential problems. I sorry this happened to you, but you’ve really provided a great service to the rest of us who want to do more to protect our work.

    Keep us updated, and again thank you!

    1. Hope the information helps. I became so frustrated trying to solve this issue. Legitimate fans are one thing, this is just blatant stealing. My efforts have been pretty successful (about 15 sites have complied with my DCMA requests), but there are still five that keep autoblogging.
      I’ll keep fighting the good fight!
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment- I appreciate it.

  3. My blog for writers doesn’t contain much original writing. I created it for my in-person critique group. I find so many wonderful articles online and I wanted to share them. At first, I posted them to a page on Facebook, but some members could not access it, so I decided to post them here. (I did reblog the first day, but took all those down after being advised that was bad form). Now, I have a brief comment and a link to the original article. As a writer with pages online, I like traffic. That is why I post. Perhaps others do not share that opinion. Is this sort of blog unacceptable? I am referring, not copying.

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