Piracy on the Internet: You Did Not Just Do That

How it feels when someone steals your words.A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post. I’m not going to tell you which one because… okay, let me tell the story first.

So, a post. I publish it and it’s not even about anything (as usual). It’s not even one of my posts that people occasionally find useful (like the one on Kindlefeeder, or The Hero’s Journey in Clash of the Titans, or some of the writing posts). The day after I published it, I caught a weird pingback in my spam filter. I get those all the time when I link to one of my older posts but this one wasn’t from me. But, it was my words in the little sample that shows up.

When I clicked it, I found a beauty site (beauty, people–how many times have I blogged about that, I ask you) that had copied my entire post whole without any attribution whatsoever. The links within the post still pointed to my site (hence the spam filter pingback). Worse, most of the site, other than my post, was in another language. I know that copyright laws aren’t enforced in many countries, so I knew a report to the host would probably not yield a result.

So, I emailed the person. Nothing happened. Then, I left a moderated (and, so far, unapproved) comment on the site and told them that they’d copied my post in whole without any attribution, that I would make a complaint to Google which may or may not affect their search results. And some other things I couldn’t really back up. Because, seriously, what am I going to do about a post on a blog I don’t make any money from?

Don’t misunderstand me, I know it’s wrong. I felt strangely violated that someone had stolen my words, my thoughts, without even asking or giving me credit. If they found the article useful and wanted to repost it, I’d probably let them, with a link back here. Why not, right? But, to just take it? That’s seriously not okay. And, no, it's not harming me financially. But, it harms me intellectually and emotionally. Click To Tweet

Anyway, when I went back this week, because now it’s a car wreck and I can’t look away, they’d ran the post through one of those programs that changes the words but isn’t supposed to change the meaning. Except, now it sounds like I have a poor grasp of the English language and it links back to here through those links I mentioned earlier, so now I’m mad and a little embarrassed someone might think I wrote it.

I’d link to it so you could all go have a laugh except I’m afraid if the traffic there goes up, they’ll steal everything I do. It’ll be like having a thought-stealing internet stalker. And I know how people are, because I’m the same way, and if I just give you a screencap (or tell you which post), you’ll google the words and find it and drive the traffic up that way. So, now, I can’t even call them out on it.

Other than making legal threats I can’t really back up in their comment section, does anyone have any suggestions?

Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: Pedro Pasquale.

Edit 05.13.2012: Turns out Godaddy is hosting the site, though it’s owned in Vietnam. Godaddy was not the host, but they walked me through tracing it back to the real hosts. I sent the DMCA Takedown Notice (on the advice of Penrefe in the comments below–thank you!), so fingers crossed.

Penrefe (@Penrefe, twitter) is gaining a reputation as an exceptionally helpful commenter, like in this post, when she explained to me what a “licker zombie” was.

Edit 05.16.2012: I just realized why they stole this post. Because it has beauty in the title. Doh. Also, an update!


  1. Author

    Penrefe: That is an excellent idea. I don’t know if that will help, but at least I’d be doing something.

    Sophia: I know, it’s crazy how much it really bothers me. Thanks for commenting!

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