Friday, June 23, 2017

Apparently It's Working

It's an interesting dilemma.

On the one hand, I'm glad that my stuff is getting out there and people are seeing it. It's nice to see my stuff in print and published.On the other hand, though, it does me absolutely no good if it is stolen and credit for my work is assumed by another.

This is what has happened to me in the past day or two. I received an email from Google AdWords saying that advertising to my site, www.blowhardpundit.com, had been suspended for a "lack of original content" ... which immediately raised flags in my mind, because it is nothing BUT original content. When I got them on the horn it turned out that the offending article was "Polygamy? Not As Crazy As It Sounds" which was originally published in June of 2014 in Yahoo Voices (which was hacked), and again on my original blog www.on-the-other-hand.net (no longer active). I recently re-published this article simply because a) it was an easy way to generate content, and 2) -- well, there really is no other reason.

One of the effects of this was that the date/time stamp of the blog post is reset to the current date and time. Bear this in mind; it's crucial later.

So I was speaking to the AdWords rep, a very nice lady whose name I can't remember at the moment, and I was told that they have an algorithm that performs searches based on the blog post title, and this particular one came up as being posted on June 26, 2014 (the day after it was originally posted) on a site called yakmax.com (please do NOT go to this site, as they are content thieves). The post was identical in every way to mine, with the exception of the fact that my name was not attached to it. The reason it was flagged as being not original is because, due to the addition of a single sentence at the beginning, the date/time stamp was updated to the current date and time ... which put the stolen article first, and the original second.

The course of action I was given?
  1. Track down every site where my blog posts have been published.
  2. If they are not legit, submit a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) complaint for each offending post to the web site owner (assuming I can find who it is).
  3. Take down my post that has been stolen, because the timestamps lead Google to believe that it's my content that is the stolen content.
  4. Follow up each DMCA complaint, initiating any further legal action if necessary.

I get it. Procedures have to be followed, and all that, and there's really nothing about me that inherently identifies me as the original author. But when you have my posts showing up on multiple sites, under multiple authors, when these posts all contain similar elements (tagline at the end, for example), and when these elements also exists in posts that have not been stolen, it is a reasonable assumption to make that I wrote the crap and other people are attempting to make money from it.

The six web sites I found (so far) that have my content all have the same look and feel (typography, layout, etc.) and are all registered in Pomona, NJ. I can only assume they are all registered to the same registrant; the registration info has been masked.

Ironically, the web sites in question all have the following notice posted in the "Terms" section:
The Website contains material that is protected by state, national and international copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws. You may not modify, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute in any way any material, including code and software, from the Website. You may download material from the Website and may use the Website for your personal use only, provided you keep intact all copyright and other proprietary notices.

Apparently this means that they can steal my stuff, but I can't steal it back, or something.

Anyway, I'm sure these aren't the only sites who have been guilty of this, but in the interest of maybe someone knowing something about them, here they are:

bogbit.com
itchyfish.com
mudmosh.com
treepony.com
wetbin.com
yakmax.com

I urge everyone reading this to wreak as much havoc on these sites as possible. Flood their email contact form. If you know who the person or people are, pull a Noriega and set up a bank of incredibly large and ugly amplifiers outside their house blasting Van Halen's "Panama" on a continuous loop at ear splitting levels. If you know what kind of car they drive, get in front of them in traffic and drive r-e-a-l  s-l-o-w.

I am not going to suggest that someone proficient in web coding create a program to simulate a denial-of-service attack on these sites, nor am I going to suggest finding where this person lives and leaving flaming bags of dog crap on their front step, nor would I tell people to find out where the domain is being hosted and shut off the power. That would be unethical.

I am going to ask a small favor, though. Anyone who sees my material published elsewhere -- as in not on my blog, or not in the Facebook groups and pages I frequent -- please contact mew directly so I can deal with it appropriately. Nine times ut of ten I'll bet it's just fine ... it's that last one that'll get me every time.

I gotta lie down.

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