It's been an interesting week. As in the curse May you live in interesting times.
Some weasel in Russia had been scraping my blog feed since the start of May and republishing all my posts on their spam blog with Google AdSense ads. They were stealing content from several sites, all knit blogs, and trying to make money off them. This is the second time I've had copyrighted web content stolen.
I'd emailed the domain owner and the web host in May, both of which ignored me. So I'd grabbed a WordPress plugin, Feed Copyrighter and installed that. It pops a copyright notice on every post in your feed. The scraper didn't remove my copyright notice and it turned up on their site, along with the photos in my posts. I got an email from one blogger saying she'd seen my copyright notice on the spam blog (thank you, much appreciated!) and I went to check again.
If the web host and domain owner won't listen, what's a girl to do? I registered a user account on the spam blog on Monday and posted a comment on one of my stolen posts, telling them to take down my copyrighted material. They altered my comment, so I left another. They deleting my second comment, left one calling me "very impolite" and offered to take down the post that bothered me "for peace and tranquility in the world". They also went back through my stolen posts and stripped out all my copyright notices. What bothered me was the entire site, because all of their content had come from other bloggers.
I thought their reply was very patronising and I was spitting mad. Other Ravelry users had tried unsuccesfully to get their stuff taken off this spam blog and I found a forum thread talking about it. A little research turned up two things we could all do: report them to Google as a spam blog, and report them to Google AdSense for copyright infringement.
So I did both. Tuesday night I left another comment on my stolen post saying that blog scraping was copyright infringement, that they didn't have my permission to republish my stuff, and told them to pull ALL of my posts. I also told some of the other people whose posts had been copied what was going on, and left comments on their stolen posts. Next stop was the Ravelry forum I'd found earlier, to explain where and how to report a spam blog to Google and Google AdSense.
On Wednesday morning the spam blog was gone, all content deleted. Score one for the good guys.
So, if it happens again, or if it happens to you, there are several excellent articles about content theft online. My favourite is by Lorelle Van Fossen, What do you do when someone steals your content? Stay calm, find out who you're dealing with, and work through the steps.
A good whois tool is available on GeekTools, you can plug in any domain and pull up the records. It will show you both the domain name owner (registrant) and the web host (under "Name Servers").
If the blog is on WordPress.com, you can use their spam form to report a spam blog.
The form to report a spam blog to Google is here. If you're signed up with Google's Webmaster Central, there's another form you can use. Both ask for a query that shows bad results in their index, I used this (including the quote marks):
"my blog name" "title of my stolen post"
The form to report abuse to Google AdSense is here, check the "Copyright infringement" box and say you're reporting a spam blog in the comment box.
Don't spam the abuse forms, we're better than that. The reports will result in the spammer losing their ad revenue and dropping out of Google's index. Or running scared and deleting the whole thing. Interesting times indeed...