Plagiarism is Theft

I am amazed that I have to write this post but I do have to write it. Plagiarism is when you copy something someone else wrote and use it as your own content without the authors permission. Last night I had some fun with someone who was taking my content via feed and using it for a splog. He is no longer taking my content but continues to take content from all over the country and acts surprised and offended when the owners of the content ask him to stop. It is just an act, he knows that what he is doing.

When I discovered that his blog had several of my photos on it I uploaded some new pictures and gave them the same name as the files he was linking to. The pictures remain in place on my blog because I renamed those files and uploaded them again. The screen print below shows the graphic that was displayed on his splog in place of one of my photos. Easy to do and this one is rather mild compared to some of the others that I uploaded. A great way to have a good time and to make a thief’s blog look bad.

jerk Plagiarism is Theft

Even though my content is no longer being taken it has been taken before and will be taken again. I guess my anger at this thief is in part because of the photos. They are mine and I admit I almost feel violated when someone takes them.



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The thief is still taking content and he will continue to do so and he is a Realtor. He says he is not doing anything wrong and that he is helping us by promoting our blogs.

Some of the people he is stealing from don’t even understand that they are being harmed. He sent me an email saying that he was surprised that I did not want my blog promoted and I could get an extra 20 visits a month through his splog. For one thing I am not going to notice 20 new visits a month, or even an hour for that matter. I never asked for his help and don’t need it and I don’t like seeing my content on a splog. The way he was displaying the content no one would need to visit my blog to read it because he had it all on his splog. The way the link to my blog was displayed most readers would not notice it and would assume the splogger was the author of the content.

People who have splogs and who steal content often use the excuse that they were just trying to help promote the blog that they were stealing from. It is like they all read the same book and say the same things. I think they go to school somewhere to learn how to steal content. Please do not fall for this line of crap. Your content does the most good on your own blog. Yes blogs can be syndicated. St. Paul Real Estate is picked up by some local blogs with my permission. They receive a mini feed via RSS and get an excerpt from my posts and have a link back to my blog. My photos are never included in these feeds.

The Realtor with the splog is using it for lead generation and for selling ads. The content he is stealing is being used for commercial purposes.

I spend a fair amount of time dealing with plagiarism. I start with a cease and desist letter and then I escalate until I get the job done. Sometimes I change a few graphics too. I don’t sit and wait to see what will happen, and I don’t tolerate plagiarism, and you shouldn’t either.

Here is a link to some information on how to stop plagiarism and what it is. Here is a link to some copyright myths. On the Internet content is king. Please do not allow others to steal your content.

*I know my blog isn’t the best in the US but figured I could get in a little advertising 

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.


  • http://www.eastyorktorontorealestate.com Steven

    It saddens me to have to read this. I am pleased that you care enough to share this important information like this. Everyone should know their rights. Thanks for the great links.

    I love your new pictures. “best” is up for debate “Excellent” is for sure.

  • http://www.azmortgagegurucom Shailesh Ghimire

    Teresa,

    This is a huge problem these days. There are at least half a dozen blogs that steal my blog content on a regular basis. The first time I discovered it I was peeved. I wrote letters and contacted the host. But to no avail. They sent me huge documents I had to fill out to file a complaint under the DMCA ( Digital Millennium Copyright Act (of 1998).

    I knw Jay Thompson had success with one. Here is his post: http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/content-thieving-splog-is-offline/399

    However, the problem is so pervasive and widespread it’s hard for the little guy to fight this thing. I think Benn said it best in one of his posts. Allowing the blogger to reject a subscriber. Until then I don’t have the time to go after these guys.

  • http://blog.mariah.com Todd Carpenter

    Shailesh, when blog hosts send me DMCA paperwork, I simply respond that IF I have to fill out a bunch of legal forms, I will need to consult a lawyer, and at that point, I will consider filing a lawsuit against you.

    I always contact the web host. They are the ones who are actually breaking the law. They know they are liable. The sploggers know what they are doing. The web hosts know what a splog is. Threatening action against the host is usually all it takes.

  • http://www.reddoorhomeloans.com/borrower-mistakes.html Denver Mortgage

    Copyscape provides a free plagiarism checking service. You just type in your url.

    http://www.copyscape.com/

  • http://www.floridamortgagedaily.com Robert D. Ashby

    I have not caught my blog being plagiarized yet, but my main web site has pages have been plagiarized as has my domain name. I am working with lawyers on some of the cases right now.

    I also agree with Todd in that you can notify the host and they will remove the site quickly as they know they can be held liable for maintaing the site.

  • http://www.stpaulrealestateblog.com Teresa Boardman

    I am getting pretty good at handling it. I have also gotten web sites shut down by contacting the hosting company. I had one web site thrown out of the technorati directory and another is no longer able to use a google ad sense account becasue of me. I am just so tired of this all and concerned that there are many in the real estate community that don’t understand how plagiarism hurts them or even what it is.

    It is hard for the little guy to fight becasue she is trying to run a business and does not have time to chase cyber thieves all day. :) heck I’m only five feet tall and I just can’t do it all. :)

  • http://www.theharperteam.com/blog John Harper

    Love the way you fought back with the pictures. Google is the one that should have a streamlined program in place to weed out the bad guys.

    The could have a flagging system like Craiglist that triggers human review once a site is flagged so many times. If many of the violating sites are coming from the same ISP, Google could bas all content from those servers. Things would change in a hurry.

  • http://www.stpaulrealestateblog.com Teresa Boardman

    John – one this that would be very useful is an enhancement to feedburner. I can see who is taking my content by looking at “uncommon uses” if they made it so I could disconnect people it would be harder for them to grab my content via RSS as they so often do.

    As for how I handled it, I blew off a lot of anger on one person because he was so easy to find.

  • http://youropenhouse.us Ryan Hukill

    Teresa, as much as I HATE plagiarism, I LOVE what you did with the photos. That has to be the funniest thing I’ve read this week! Great job girl!

  • http://www.stpaulrealestateblog.com Teresa Boardman

    thanks Ryan, I live to amuse. :)

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  • http://fak3r.com fak3r

    This is fun stuff, I too have found this numerous times, more often than not my images are hot linked to MySpace pages. What I’ve done is played with some mod_rewrite rules so that the images display properly on my site, but if the requesting server isn’t my server it serves up a different image (still the same name though), so it’s the best of both worlds.

    Ideally I’d have this set site wide so *any* hot linkers would get some graphic with a link to my site, a tasteless picture, or some political commentary. A simple WordPress plugin that would do the rewriting on the fly according to the referrer would be great. I do like your example above though, help to educate others while promoting your original content. Well done!