In my Writing Tips series I wrote about Copyright Theft. I had a quick look through my blog and the first time I wrote about my stuff getting stolen was in 2006. I’m sure it had happened before then and it has happened many times since. Most of the time I try to deal with it privately and give people a chance to sort their lives out without publicly branding them a thief, but sometimes circumstances bring the worst out of me.
If you had followed my series of rants on Twitter tonight you will know it happened to me again. The reason I went off the deep end this time was because approximately 10 months ago, this same person did exactly the same thing to me. When I contacted them the first time, they were very apologetic and removed the content, saying they had paid someone to produce some content for them and they didn’t know it was all stolen. Since it was all resolved quickly and pleasantly, I said nothing more. I did of course keep a record of the whole process, including my contact with the hosting company etc.
Fast forward to today and Martin Widlake contacted me to say he had found some of my stuff on another site. When I checked, it was this same person again! Some of the content that got removed last time had mysteriously returned, and there was a load more with it. Most of the time it was a straight copy. Sometimes the article names had been slightly altered, but the content was straight off my site. Occasionally there was one extra sentence at the start. In total I found 141 articles stolen from my site. There may have been more, but these were all I identified up to now.
I wrote an email to the individual in question, which ended with the rather melodramatic statement of,
“What you are doing is wrong and illegal. I will end you!”
I was putting together a DMCA takedown notice when Martin Widlake said the content had started to disappear. I checked and sure enough, I was getting 404 errors for most of the URLs. I’m promoting Martin to “Chief of the Content Police”! 🙂
Now I’m a rather petty individual and I have a very large readership, so I’m pretty sure that if this person ever does something like this again, I will be able to make sure everyone he has ever worked for, or ever will work for, will know he has been proven to be a thief twice over. Not exactly the sort of person you want working with your valuable data!
Just some words to the wise:
- If you steal content from a popular source, people are going to notice and tell the original content producer about it. There is no maybe. It will definitely happen.
- When you are caught stealing stuff it makes you look like scum. You know why? Because you are scum! If you are lucky, you will be able to deal with it quietly. If not, the world will find out you are scum!
- If you pay someone to produce content for you, you better make sure they are not stealing it, because if they are, it is you that will end up looking like scum, not them!
- If you are paying someone for content and they are producing several articles a day, it is highly likely the work is stolen, or incredibly derivative at best. If you do not realise this, you are a moron. Being a moron is not a defence, and kind-of affects your future job prospects!
Changing tack slightly…
We are all writing about the same stuff. When a new product is released, there is a flurry of new articles on the subject, many of which are covering the same content. There is nothing wrong with that. No one person has a claim on it. You won’t get an email from me asking you not to write about it. That would be ridiculous. Everyone’s take on the same subject matter is slightly different. If you ever see me in person you’ll know I’m always encouraging people to get involved. Having said that, if your idea of getting involved is stealing other people’s material, we will not be friends!