They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
And as a blog grows you’ll find that more and more blogs start to flatter you. Blog Tyrant, like some of my other blogs, is being copied in some very overt ways and I just don’t know what to do about it. Do I get legal? Do I ignore them?
In this post I want to talk to you all about the plagiarism issue and some of the hot problems that can arise when someone starts to copy your work. I’d really like the amazing Blog Tyrant community to weigh in on this one so once you’ve finished reading please leave a comment with your thoughts.
Hopefully we can come up with some good ideas about how to deal with blog copiers.
So who is copying Blog Tyrant?
Let’s start this post with some background information. A few months ago a good friend of mine messaged me on Twitter to show me a blog that looked “similar” to Blog Tyrant. I took a look and found that it was virtually the same. The About Us page is virtually a straight rip of mine and the name is only a slight variation.
Then a few weeks later another one popped up, this time sporting a brand almost identical with a copied catch phrase to match. Let me be clear here, the name is only slightly different and the tagline just has some words changed. The logo is also just a different royal symbol in the same color.
So who are they? I’m not going to tell you. Why? Because I don’t want to promote them. I don’t want to give them a back link from my site.
I also don’t want to name and shame them because its not really my style. I still harbor some hope that they might see what they are doing as a mistake and start again.
What should I do?
I recently spoke to Darren Rowse and asked him for advice because I know for a fact he has had dozens of people try to copy him outright. He wrote back with this very good advice:
Ignore it and just be better.
I have to confess that this is my style. I am not a confrontational person and I don’t really get angry about things like this. Rather than being totally pissed off about being copied I am just sort of confused; should I say something? What is the right thing to do? Do these people know that this is a form of stealing?
A few weeks ago Darren even stopped by this post on stay at home moms making money to talk about a related issue – people syndicating his content. Turns out there was some confusion but Darren was totally against it happening at all, even with a link back to his site.
So what do you do?
Firstly, I guess it depends on the issue. For example, these two copiers aren’t ripping my content, just my ideas. Is that more or less serious? If someone came out with a computer and music player company called Orange and used their ideas, sayings and format do you think Apple would be upset? I think they would.
What does the law say?
I’m no lawyer but I did about half a subject on Intellectual Property Law for my Degree. As far as I can remember you need to be able to show that these copiers are either costing you money or making money because people are mistaking them for you. And for a trademark infringement I think you need to be able to show that what they have made is substantially similar/different to your logo. But I could be totally wrong.
There are also a whole host of rules relating to copyright such as the fact that you are legally entitled to be credited for your work and paid for any profits it makes. In Australia you don’t have to register for copyright but you might have to elsewhere.
So does one sue if someone is using a brand that is substantially similar to yours, in the same niche, in the same market?
What else can you do aside from suing?
There are also other options when it comes to internet copiers. These are less about the law and more about the terms and conditions of certain online companies.
- Tell Google
In Google Webmaster Tools there is a section where you can dob in people who are copying your content. I don’t know if it applies to brands though. This can result in them being banned from Google’s listings.
- Tell their host
Copying content is generally against most web hosts terms of service because they do not want to get caught up in hosting sites that break the law. Send them an email with some proof and they will quite often just turn the site off.
- Tell Facebook
Facebook are extremely thorough when it comes to banning any copies. Of course, this only gets them off Facebook.
Of course, these things should only be looked at if you’ve talked to the blog owner and they aren’t willing to work towards a fair solution. In my case, I have talked to one of them and, while they were polite and quite accommodating, not much seemed to come out of the discussion.
So what would you do?
I’d really like to hear from all of you on this one. What do you think I should do? What would you do if someone was copying your brand, ideas and layouts? Would you get legal or would you just do as Darren does? Please leave a comment and let me know.
132 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
Given that I am not a confrontational person either, I am with “let it be mentality”.
Others will come, as you know. Sooner or later, they’ll start ripping off your content as well. How much time and energy are you possibly ready to dedicate to this?
I’ve done some research in the past since my content is being ripped off all the time and can offer some suggestions in the form of posts I found:
Hope this at least will give you an idea of whether you want to do something about it.
I am fighting with Twitter on trademark infringement rights because someone else is using my picture for their profile – not an easy thing to deal with.
What has been the hold up on Twitter Ana?
I recently found a post of mine that was published on a big blog and won a 1.000$ contest copied on some new blog. I contacted them and told them that they did not ask my permission to copy my post.
Note that they just copied everything from the page source except the author!
We went back and forth with emails, he said he bought the blog from someone and said something like is it OK now!? So I will let you keep that because you bought the blog and didn’t know!? Wow! Not once did he suggest to just name me as an author!
He said he will take it off but still hadn’t. I reported it to Google and will do this Facebook thing you suggest. It is just annoying, if they were nice you would not have to go that far! But…
Did you get your $1000 back?
It sounds like they are copying and modifying the content
One of two things will happen in your situation;
1. Their site will fall by the wayside because they aren’t as good as you and their attempt to capitalize on your success won’t last long. Their effort is focused on money, not visitors.
2. Their site will grow because they do it better than you or at least do it well enough in their own right. In this case, they are using it to start their site and wanted to get solid stuff from the beginning. Obviously, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt – at least saying they aren’t all bad.
In your situation, I would suggest reviewing the articles and decide for yourself how much they are copying versus using as a framework for an article. If you feel they’ve crossed the line then you email their hosting company…especially if you’ve contacted them (which it sounds like you have) and nothing was changed.
Once you contact their host and turned it over to the hosting company, then let it go. Whatever happens, happens but don’t spend any more time on it.
I think you are right Chris. Less time the better.
Meh, let it go. I think even writing about it here was too much attention for it. Some curious folk may try and google until they find them, giving them more time and attention than they need.
When I do wedding photography, I often have guests taking photos right over my shoulders and then posting them to facebook right away showing everyone the “amazing shot” that “they” got. It’s a bit infuriating but the truth is that they don’t even come close to the beautiful shot that we took.
People can copy, but they can never truly recreate your knowledge or style. They may mimic, but the quality just won’t be there.
People claim your wedding shots as their own? Wow.
I think I’d probably do what you mention in your post – let Google know, let their host know – and then move on. I suspect you could end up with a fulltime job just chasing people who are copying you so where do you stop the chasing?
Exactly. Its hard to know where it will end.
For me I would see this as a challenge rather than copying. I like challenges and work to get better and show them who’s boss.
Try new ideas that would be hard for your copier to copy on their website.
Maybe adding video would also help.
Good discussion. Just my thoughts.
The “challenge” motivation is a really great idea Tom. You are a better man than me.
I’d find out the owner of the sites who’s copying me, email him and tell him that I’m really good at SEO and will set up sites for his name and his credibility and mark him as a scammer and have those results come up first in Google, unless he immediately takes his sites down and stops copying me 😉
Harsh maybe…but I think it could be very effective.
This is the funniest and most original idea I have heard! Writing it down to my to-do list 🙂
Diggy stop hanging out with Glen so much you punk.
I’ll buy the beer 🙂 come help me out and bring Glen too. I hear Canadian girls are the most gorgeous in the world.
Tyrant you’re being out tyranicated on your own blog
You Gadaffi type tyrants can get lost. I’m more of a Bill Gates/Bono type tyrant.
Nahhh You’re the Best Tyrant…Eureka!
What a great blog name, I can see it now a huge scepter, and super clean design, wickedly good articles. Did I say that out loud? Shucks, there goes my chance. 🙁
In Holland (where I’m from) something similar happened to a big website. What they end up doing was registering they guys’s name as a domain name and putting adult content on that website. Then pushing traffic to that and let the guy know what they were doing.
The matter was solved within days. 🙂
You are a genius… not t
Not saying its my idea..
That’s hilarious, Ralph.
Ha! Thwart him I say, I love that idea. Register the persons name and write stuff about them, ha – Revenge – that’s the answer! Well, not really. It would be great.
Mind you, I would think about doing that and then I think I would chicken out. I would probably ignore it or at least let the persons host know.
In the US it is my understanding that if you don’t do anything to protect your copyright the courts will assume that you’ve given it up. That’s why large corporations spend the time and money to go after petty infringers of their copyrights. If they don’t, they lose those rights by default.
That, of course, directly conflicts with Rule One of Internet publishing: if you don’t want it stolen/copied/whatever, don’t put it online. Because there’s no practical way to prevent it, people will do it because they can with relative impunity.
It comes down to how much of your time, effort and money are worth spending in defense of your copyrights. Each individual has to make that decision for themselves.
I have consulted with a trademark & copyright attorney and this id not true.
I am not an attorney, but In the US your work is considered yours, considered copyrighted when you write it, even if you do not file for copyright for a book right away as an example.
Patents and trademarks have different laws governing them, so if someone wants to protect a specific logo or tagline, then going through those processes could be warranted.
well, they can’t be that great as I’ve never seen them.
I think you should do whatever feels best for you BT … if you need to rant at them then do it … if you want to ignore them … ditto.
As with the other excellent commenters … if it’s costing you money or you can show they’re using your ideas to make money … give them a legal scare.
And as far as I’m concerned … you’re the real deal.
Unless they are hurting you financially, I suggest that you ignore them. However, if they are hurting you financially, then go get them. We are talking about your livelihood here, and it is worth protecting.
But again, if you’re not loosing anything to them, take the high road. Your time and energy wasted on them is time and energy not spent on content/making your business better. It is time and energy lost.
Good thoughts Tim. That seems to be the main consensus here.
Give away the house as Navarro says.
I am still confused why you use “mom” instead of “mum”, given you’re a South Aussie. What’s up with that?
I’m a massive sellout. 😉
Be bigger and be better. Anything else is a complete waste of your valuable time.
The copy crowd lives on a competitive plane and as long as you live on a creative plane, you will always win. On every level.
Please just keep up the great work.
Honestly, I had the same thing happen to me a few months ago. My portion of my site that I charged access to was copied and put on a sh*tty little blog and the woman had the nerve to comment about how I was trying to profit so she was going to offer it for free.
Google – now 3 months later has done nothing. Useless at this point.
Personally I think you need to take it to them. Cease and desist letter and if it is seriously affecting your revenue then take legal action. I know I was told by several major bloggers to turn the other cheek but I don’t agree.
The woman that took mine is a fool and can’t spell so people laugh at her. I’m not wasting any more time but the next person that goes after my income stream will be getting my full wrath.
I don’t attract this kind of attention on my blog. But I do with my art. And I post my pictures at a high dpi without copyright stuff across the front of them.
This is my take: I am a conduit for me art. My energy is different from anyone else and even if they “copy” it will not “feel” the same. I realize this is sorta woowoo but it’s true. I’ve been copied (by a person who took a class of mine). She put her work for sale in the same places I had mine. She invested in a kiln and a lot of other clay sculpture stuff. Within a year she sold it all and went on to something else. That’s the one I know about. I’m sure there are many I don’t. Artists borrow images all the time (a review of art history will show this with the great artists). If you’re putting yourself out in the public, you’re open to theft. I ignore it.
What you do is a passion for you. Is it for them? How long will they last when they get to the day to day and find it isn’t leading where they thought *because they aren’t going to have the same energy* as what you create. Not possible.
Follow your heart. Do what you feel is necessary. Then let it go.
Tammy I know exactly what you mean, and I agree.
I think ignore it, other than the basic actions of sending a cease and desist letter, complaining to their hosting, Google and Facebook. I think you can write up a procedure for doing all that, that a virtual assistant can take care of for you, so it doesn’t take too much of their time. Don’t engage with them personally – it just isn’t worth it.
Get a reputation company to bury them.
Best piece of advice ever!
Leigh I’m surprised! Ha ha.
What’s a reputation company ?
Stop it Rachelle!
Embrace it, Tyrant! Use this to your advantage. That’s what I did after the same thing happened to me recently. I even wrote a post about it:
Could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you!
Still, Diggy’s idea is AWESOME. 🙂
Don’t encourage him.
My two cents as a lawyer and as blogger (although I already told you my opinion in your previous post):
1. Ripping content is awful, but IMHO stealing your ideas is worse
2. The main problem to go legal is that Internet is virtually global. You are in Australia, they are… in the USA? Europe? Asia? South Africa? That can make things very difficult (not impossible though)
3. Despite that, I would report to Google, their host and Facebook but only if this is really causing you real trouble.
4. If you feel you can let it pass, then just ignore them.
Like I said to you a couple days ago, audience is not silly. One can tell who is innovative and who is a copier.
Even more, copying a successful blogger’s ideas and style is not a key to success. Usually, someone who needs to copy others will sooner rather than later fail in their business.
Blog Tyrant has a recognizable brand already. And it grows fast. They can’t copy that.
The issue of copying ideas is very different from copying content.
Your content – the order that the words appear, the precise words used – is subject to copywright the minute you publish it.
But ideas AREN’T copyrightable.
For example – in the IM space I’ve seen the idea of a 4 day sale taught by different folks with different names. Jeff Walker calls it the mini launch. Paul Lemberg calls it a Fire Sale. Frank Kern calls it the 4 Day Cash Machine.
It’s the same idea – but the basic idea itself isn’t something that you can protect. So if you write a great blog post, and someone runs with that idea and creates their own post where the idea is substantially similar, there’s very little you can do.
It’s the idiots who just scrape your content that annoy me. A DMCA notice will usually deal with most of them – the main thing though is to not get hung up on spending lots of time on this. Spend time instead on creating fresh content for your blog or for courses or ebooks.
I have to agree with Cristina. Also my understanding is that google already disqualifies sites that steal content as they know which article was published first and how long ago. Start with a cease and desist letter and report to google.
By publishing something on the internet for the first time you already create copyright, at least in the U.S.
As a copyright lawyer (http://www.GigaLawFirm.com), I see this frequently. Fortunately, asserting your rights strongly via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other portions of relevant copyright laws can be very effective in getting infringing content taken down.
How do you do it? I mean, is it enough to send a cease and desist letter? or you need some formal complain, sue the people, etc?
(I don’t live in the States, I don’t know how it works)
The DMCA requires that a notice be sent to the website host that specifically meets certain criteria, and the notice must be sent to the designated DMCA agent for the website, if one has been appointed. Although it is not necessary that a lawyer send the notice, it is helpful to have someone do so who is experienced with the DMCA. In addition, a demand letter from the lawyer to the website operator and to the website host can be quite helpful, especially if the website host has not appointed an agent under the DMCA.
I’ve gotten things taken down just by mentioning to the host that Legal was in the process of drafting the DMCA. Just the threat of legal action is often enough for web hosts, in my experience.
I would agree with Darren on this one. Shut down those sites, and more will just spring up eventually – either from these people or from others. Constantly monitoring and working on the situation will only just drain your energy and your precious time.
What would I do? I think I would publish their stolen article as a ‘comment’ on my blog (and telling they are ‘inspired’ by me), or even publish their names and logo on my blog, thanking them to spread the word (and offer them my original article with CP on it).
I don’t think publishing their article on my blog would drive traffic to them but rather expose their dishonesty.
If every time they publish their (=my) articles, and I’d republish a short copy of their version, wouldn’t they get tired? This together with all the other steps you mentioned, which are excellent.
(love your blogs very much)
I’m not the confrontational sort either, but I would take all the available actions on Google. I would also make a point to trademark your name. At least then if someone DOES start to make money off your ideas and name, you could take legal action.
It sucks, but would suck more is if you completely ignored it and someone screwed you completely. 🙁
Google’s DMCA works like magic these days. I’ve had Google adsense disabled on two blogs after reporting them. It takes me time to create content ’cause of my busy schedule so to see someone trying to make a buck off my sweat really PISSES me off 🙁
Based on what you are describing, I would think you have very little case to go after them legally. My understanding is that you can’t copyright ideas, only the execution of ideas. So if you write articles with exactly the same premise, but the execution of that is different, it’s not infringement (note: if a substantial portion is lifted word for word, you may have a case).
In terms of registering copyright, at least in the US, it only matters when it comes time for damages. Registration allows punitive damages. No registration allows only for actual damages.
As far as the trademark infringement, unless you trademark your logo and name, I don’t think you have a claim, at least not in the US.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on television. The above comes from my own reading about copyright law and a couple of business law cases (one dealing with intellectual property.)
In my opinion: go out, kick @ss and take names. The internet makes it too easy to copy to worry yourself to death. If they become too big, then concern yourself with it. Otherwise you are wasting time, when you could be making money.
There are a number of misstatements here. Importantly, copyright registration is required to file a complaint in U.S. court, but it is not a requirement to file a take-down notice under the DMCA. In addition, you can obtain a registration at any time (though, generally speaking, prompt registration allows for “statutory damages”).
Also, trademark registration is not required to file a trademark infringement complaint in the U.S.
That’s good to know. (The trademark part…I only knew the copyright stuff.) Is the trademark filing just a precaution then to keep others from using it?
Trademark registration provides additional benefits but is not required to file suit in the United States.
However we know that Blog Tryant is in Australia, not the USA. Unless the offenders are in the USA (and most people in the world aren’t!), then US law is pretty much irrelevant.
Peace. I wrote this quickly and as such made mistakes.
You do need to have it registered to file suit, which I had forgotten, but that does not change the fact the the primary benefit of registration in this case revolves around damages. Yes you can register at any time, but prompt registration is defined as the longer of within 3 months of creation or before infringement. Prompt registration is what entitles you to statutory damages and lawyer fees which often far outstrips actual damages (at least according to the US Copyright Office.) So, in other words, if you wait three months and do not register before the infringement occurs, you are not legally entitled to lawyer fees or statutory damages. You are only entitled to acutal damages, which may be difficult to demonstrate on content you are giving away. In my opinion, litigating this equals an expensive moral victory.
I partially agree with you on the DMCA takedown notice, which I didn’t address mainly because I don’t usually think about it. Yes, you can send one. But if they contest the notice, you need to be prepared to file suit against them within 10-14 business days of notification(which would require registration, no?) Otherwise they are entitled to have it put back up. So without registration or the intent to register and file suit, there is not a lot of actual meaning to sending a DMCA notice, unless you believe the threat of litigation will keep the content down. This is probably the only thing that I would actually do, because it doesn’t cost much. And I would probably only do it if I thought I was losing significant business due to the infringement.
As far as trademark law goes, maybe I was a little too flippant. It’s not so much that he couldn’t make a claim, but rather that a claim would not be worth making in this case. Yes, you are “protected” without registration, but not greatly, and probably not enough in this case to make it worth filing a suit.
Registration allows for statutory damages, as well as other benefits. The problem when there is no registration revolves around what you are required to prove. It first requires you establish there is in fact a valid trademark (because there is no public notice of trademark before hand to establish it for you.) You must then show that the alleged violation occurs in a region where you operate. Then you must prove the competitive mark actually infringes on yours, which only entitles you at that point to have them stop using the mark. Then you must prove damages in order to collect anything, which is not easy in this case, because you have to show you likely lost affiliate sales due to the infringement(remember this is free content.) If your trademark is unregistered, the cost of fighting this battle is likely far more expensive than any gain coming out of it. Another expensive moral victory.
In general, trademark and copyright litigation is expensive, especially when you don’t have proper registration in place within statutory guidelines or prior to infringement. Proving infringement can be tricky, especially if the content is modified from its original form (remember, he was clear that the content was not a carbon copy.) Then there is the difficulty of establishing actual damages. And finally, there is the problem of collecting damages. We’re talking about the world wide web. Try collecting from someone in Brazil, when when your US copyright or trademark is violated.
I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t protect your content or trademark, but my premise remains. The Tyrant’s time and money is probably better spent creating content and making money rather than chasing ghosts or paying for lawyers and registration fees.
I like Darren’s advice. Ignore it and just be better.
I hope you realize that no one else can be mistaken for you. There is something unique and special about you that draws people in. Others may try to copy you and they may be able to capture ten, fifty, maybe ninety percent of what you offer, but it’s that ten percent that’s all you, that no one else has or could ever copy. And that’s the part that matters most.
This may or may not work for you, but to throw it out there, there’s a freelance writing site whose owner often suggests to send a bill in this kind of circumstance.
Freelancers get paid (or at least they are supposed to) for writing articles for sites/ezines/blogs etc. Since your copycat took an article and used it in much the same way, assign a value and send a bill with the insistence that if you are not paid, they must at minimum, take down the piece.
I also agree though with those who have said to ignore it. People who do business like the copycats are generally do not run their business well, and won’t be able to build much of a following. Just continue to be awesome is good advice.
I don’t even understand WHY people copy. I just don’t get it. That said, I see complaints from bloggers about others ripping their content, their ideas. So I know it happens. Yeah and I wouldn’t want to feed it. That said, I wonder if there will come a point when your cheap imposters will/may confuse a future readership. Will it cheapen your brand?
Let’s say I read on twitter (where I get all my news, lol) about this great blogger’s blogger, the Blog Dictator, and head over there, and it’s drivel. By the time I get to YOU, Blog Tyrant with your concise and smart copy, great advice and personal tone, will I take the time to read it or just confuse this site for the shoddy imitation crab one? I’m not sure.
But I’m glad I found you first.
BT, I’m so sorry this has happened to you! It’s normal to get territorial, especially when you’ve worked so hard!
Artists are talking about this all the time. Recently, I made a “Twist Defiant” badge that people can fly on their blogs if they want to help raise awareness and encourage one another to be as original as we can possibly be:
The good news is that you’re the real deal and you’re the one and only you.
And can I just tell you that I followed all your earlier advice, wrote a guest post and guess what? It got stolen!! I couldn’t believe it…
Your fan in germany, tj
Crap BT, I’m sorry I put the wrong link on my comment… the original discussion the artists had about influence, manipulation and theft was here:
I hope all creatives help encourage one another to keep pushing the limits of their own originality and recognizing good ethics…
As an artist my perspective may be different. As Im sure you are aware all the great masters from Dali to Monet have been copied over the years by thousands if not millions of artists.
So, I would actively encourage it,because it makes you look even better.You will be the original one, the master of your craft and they knowingly or unknowlingly will be promoting you.
Put the spotlight on them,… people aren’t that daft, and the my life’s clock is ticking too fast to be bothered about lawyers…or imitation blogs.
I really like Cheryl’s idea above. Since they’ve copied your design as well, the bill could be fairly hefty.
Whenever I’ve found my blog quoted without attribution, I leave a friendly comment saying I’m flattered, but they’re technically breaking the law, so they need to give attribution and a link so “we don’t get into some messy legal thing.” Sometimes they’ll add the attribution. More often they take down the content. But they know I’m watching.
Of course it’s not my whole blog being copied. That would be just plain creepy. I don’t think I’d ignore it.
You probably should know what and how a Pro deal with plagiarism.
Here’s what you can do to shot down a plagiarist:
Brent Ozar has a series on Plagiarism and what actions to take when you and others get victimized by a plagiarist.
It’s been said there are no truly original ideas in the world anymore. Unless you ask and they point blank admit that they’re ripping off the ideas for posts from your site, you can’t prove it. In fact, the royalty aspect is popular imagery, so scepter type logos doesn’t point to blatant theft either. I guarantee that somewhere, in some form or fashion, someone has already written about the stuff you write about. It’s the nature of blogging. The stuff with the logo and slogan coupled with that makes it look bad, but…Happened to me, in a way.
I researched 7 ways from Sunday to make sure there weren’t other positive-type pipers out there, but I didn’t research my slogan. A few months in, I found out that I’d been using something ONE WORD OFF from another blog in the niche. Did I steal it? Absolutely not. Something I’ve said to friends and coworkers for years. (But I didn’t stop signing off posts with it once I found the other blog, just so the appearance of copying wouldn’t be there.)
As for what you should do…monitor the situation if you like, but take no action at this time. If you haven’t registered trademarks, there’s not really anything you can do about taglines and logos. Your content though, that’s a different situation. If they verbatim copy your content or only twist some of the words around, that gives you a leg to stand on. That’s when you send them an email giving them 48 hours to remove it. When they don’t, you send notification of copyright infringement to their host and have them shut down their site until the content’s gone. Took me less than a week with someone who stole an article from a client’s blog.
You know, in your shoes, I’d be frustrated. I’m the Positive Piper of bubble gum and sunshine and I’d be annoyed if the Positive Piper of kittens and Christmas showed up. But…I call myself the Positive Piper of bubble gum and sunshine because I *AM* that – well, and lightning, but that just didn’t fit well. Anyone can pretend to be, but they can’t actually *be* me. (I can pretend to be Jay Gatsby but that doesn’t make it so.) I suspect the same goes for you, Tyrant.
You’re busy. The whole thing probably isn’t worth your time. If these people are having to copy you to try to get hits and business, they probably suck too much to be effective at it. And if it was a fluke with the copying and they do manage to make names for themselves in the niche, they were possibly just that good to begin with. The making money online niche is a bear I wouldn’t tackle with an army of dragons at my side. Copying isn’t enough to give anyone an edge in it. Ultimately, they’re going to rise or fall based on their merits anyway. (And I suspect it’s going to be more difficult for them if they approach the contacts you’ve already made in the niche.)
All that said, if you need any help monitoring, shoot me an email. I’ve gotten pretty good at determining on sight when content isn’t at least 30% original.
FYI – I WILL be stealing that zombie sign picture for my next post on the zombie apocalypse. It’s too perfect.
I have to admit, I really love the “ruin them” ideas being posted, but I think that tactic will only bite you in the ass later on. Word gets around, but not always accurately. Instead of being the guy who ruined the people stealing your genius, you become the bitter blogger who orchestrated a smear campaign because you were incapable of handling the competition.
So, you’re screwed either way – if you choose to view the copying as being screwed, I guess. It’s probably better to be the nice guy getting screwed over than the jerk getting screwed over. Perception is everything on the Internet.
Although I think there should be consequences to ripping people off, I’ve witnessed a few fights out there that just seemed to bring out the worst in everybody. Major turn off.
This is a good point Jen. There’s no easy answers!
I would probably comment on a blog post, and sarcastically remark how things look similar to my site, started way back in __.
Then I would thank them for such high praise, but alert them to the fact that they may actually LOSE visitors and ranking in the search engines because their design/content… whatever it is not original.
You cannot escape from being copied in today’s virtual world. Your photos may get stolen or even your content.
You copiers are trying to make money on your expenses. You deliver the ideas and they copy it. I admit that it may confuse the readership but, in the end, people will stick with you or find you, as you are the original and this is what readers want. Not just a chaep copy !
I agree with Darren by saying “Let go, see it as a challenge and be better. Be the original although it upsets you !”
I have a question… and maybe I’m just naive about the ramifications of such and idea (I’m new at all this)… but why NOT post the link here?
You obviously have a very faithful Army. Wouldn’t it be best to let your foot soldiers handle this for you? I know that I would go to bat for you and send a request to Google/Facebook for the links or site to be taken down, and I’m sure many others would as well. Why suffer in silence when you can crowdsource the backlash to your fans/followers?
Start a campaign. People love to defend those they “love”. You have that here in the following you have built. You constantly give, BT. Why not allow your “peeps” to help you, for a change? 😉
Great idea Deane but these guys are all takers.
Deane has a good point. Tell us how we can help you.
Deane on one hand I love the “we’ve got your back mentality” and I think there is great power in uniting to help one another.
Yet I’m super hesitant to ever suggest ganging up in mass against anybody. Isn’t the internet just an extension of real life? Once you get a mob going it can get out of control real fast. A virtual avalanche of destruction that can go much farther than ever intended because once it gets rolling it can’t be stopped.
I love BT and I don’t want to see him ripped off, but I’d also hate to see him sparking something that could get out of control…
What no adult sites opened up under copier’s personal names in defense of the Tyrant?
I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t like it 🙂
Rachelle! I literally gasped out loud…
Does that kind of stuff actually happen?
I’ve heard of hackers taking down some really vile stuff out there and I sort of thought of them as “virtual robinhoods” but it never even occurred to me the OTHER way around— building something under an enemy’s identity as a means of attack! WOW.
Even if it was my greatest nemesis, that is WAY too vindictive for me… BT – please don’t get any ideas!
**TJ reaches out to grab all your hands and busts out in a hearty round of “kum-ba-yah!”**
You would be horrified by the vindictive stuff people do to each other in cyberspace because of the “anonymous” factor. I’m continually surprised by what I find behind the mask of social niceties when people choose to reveal what they really are underneath. Granted, I shouldn’t be because I’ve already “read” them, but *knowing* is different from knowing.
One incident I know of happened more than a year ago, but still sticks vividly in my mind. It was a humor site. Someone stole a drawing and posted it on their site. Blogger posted the link and within an hour the other blog had HUNDREDS of horrifying comments from readers. Turned out the other blogger was mentally handicapped (of some sort…not sure which, but it doesn’t matter) and didn’t realize they weren’t allowed to copy images from other Internet sites. The original blogger had to spend HOURS on both their site and the other site trying to calm people down in comments because every comment asking people to stop kept getting buried under a barrage of attacks and words in defense. It might’ve come down to sending individual emails to people…I’m not sure.
We’re clearly talking about more than just some lifted artwork here, but…still. Reasonable people lose their minds in mob situations. Fast.
Oh Jen, this is heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing such a good example of what I was getting at.
I’m a little sad that I even *have* an example like that to share. Sad state the world’s in, I guess.
If you really want an idea of how vicious the internet can get…google “Santorum Effect”(Adult Content)
Basically a politician in the States stated some nasty bigoted bile offensive to gay people.
Dan Savage a gay sex blogger held a contest for a definition of the word “Santorum” and created a website about it.
Now every time anyone google’s this guy’s name the first thing that pops up is the winning definition. He could have been a nominee for President.
Dan Savage is a good guy thought he offered to remove the website if Santorum would donate $5,000,000 to some gay right to marry group.
My personal opinion after reading what Santorum said was that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
I also am the proud owner of a few new dot com’s, I’d be classy about it, and turn them into a real estate scam reporting site and perform a public service. To be honest, I thought about before because quite a few people are getting hurt by these characters. For $50 it was very satisfying. Or I could just move the Landlord Rescue site over to his name haha.
You know what they say…karma’s a bitch.
And karma’s an equal opportunity bitch at that, Rachelle. That’s what I like best about her. She’s not like Santa; she doesn’t discriminate against those who don’t believe in her. 😉
I use to ignore them, this type of site has a very short life.
My time is worth too much for me to waste on trying to track down the owner of the copycat website. The only time I could see myself pursuing a conversation is if a blog with a decent reputation was copying my content without permission. But for autoblogs and other scraper websites, it’s time wasted.
Hi all, I’ve got a little bit of a different comment to make on this topic. I’ve been working a long time in the marketing and online area and so have just decided to create a blog, market some social media plans for small businesses and see what happens.
So, along the way I’ve read numerous blogs to get an idea on topics, etc that would be interesting written from my perspective. I know this is not a copyright matter as I am perfectly capable of writing my own stuff, but I wondered about where the line is drawn between researching ideas and ‘copying’ ideas as, I guess, as the online world grows we’re talking about similar things, there has to be a cross-over.
As I’ve said, I’ve just and only started my blog so advance feedback or even links to posts on what to do and NOT do would be really terrific.
So who is copying Blog Tyrant? Who COULD POSSIBLY copy BT except superficial?
Of course it would have been easier to click the link right from your blog just to check it out for myself, but you’re exactly right not giving the dummy exposure.
I picture some 17 year old in Nigeria or Romania changing bits and pieces of your blog posts, with nary a clue to what you’re talking about. All he knows is you’re popular and maybe he can make some money. Who knows?
I like the idea of informing Google, Facebook, Twitter and any other outfit that might care. But as far as taking him to court, that may be spitting in the wind.
You don’t have time to waste on garbage. Just be you and do your thing. You’re the real Blog Tyrant and he’ll never get the followers you do.
Nevertheless, what a pain! So sorry it had to happen.
Have you got a spare fortune to pay lawyers, and lots of spare time to spend chasing the issue? If you do, then by all means go legal. If not, then your time and money may be better used in other directions.
There are some interesting issues for all of in re “what is copying” though:
A while ago, I wrote a post about “taking action when someone has copied your blog”. I didn’t come up with the ideas that I wrote about, I just explained them in a particular way, for a particular audience. But reading your article today, I’ve found out about three new options (tell Facebook, threaten legal action even though you don’t intend to follow through, send ’em a bill). One came from you, two from your comment-ers. Is it “copying” that I’m going to add them the next time I edit that article? Legally, I don’t think so (since you cannot copyright ideas). Morally? Maybe … but but if we all could only write about 100% new ideas, we wouldn’t be writing much at all.
Ughhh I sense another unauthorised guest post coming up…
So a while back someone bought the .com version of my site, then they trademarked the name of my company since 2007, Landlord Rescue. Here in Canada trademarks are basically issued on a first come first serve basis and they don’t search anywhere but the Trademark Journal for other uses or infractions. My blog serves as all of my business advertising, so it’s incredibly important.
Furthermore because my site is of much higher ranking than their site, I get all their complaints from tenants and landlords and they have a much bigger company than mine. So that’s fun
The bottom line is that trademark law is extremely expensive and it’s one of those areas of law where you can appeal until the end of time (or until your money runs out) I happen to have an excellent case and if I had $15,000 as an initial retainer to pursue it, I would likely win, depending on how long it went on. Target US and Target Canada have been duking it out for over 10 years now.
Having said that, had I known anything about trademarks I could have applied for the trademark first for a measly $250 and protected myself to a much greater extent.
My thoughts are that most bloggers don’t have the funds to enter any real trademark or copyright dispute. It’s a practical matter. Large multinational corporations like McDonald’s have lawyers on staff full time just to keep people from stealing their stuff.
It really pisses me off that I have no choice but to try to come to an agreement with these uhmmm people who claim that they just didn’t check the internet or know who I was. It’s hard to prove intent but it sure was suspicious. If I had the money to sue them into the stone age I would, instead I am negotiating for a licensing agreement for my area, and rebranding because it’s cheaper.
%*@@($***(!(!) That’s how I feel about it. If hatred were as effective as lasers they’d be ashes right now. It really really really sucks. Fortunately for them I have lots of practice making pragmatic decisions because I have to.
Plus I have a sick husband and kid to support and If I don’t make a legal agreement by June 6th they’ll get their damn trademark and be able to shut down my website overnight. So I called them again today.
I’m so mad I could spit.
Don’t do that. Your keyboard would just get all wet. I’m sure there are other ways to deal with this kind of thing. *coughs* hacker *coughs*
Rachelle, I’m spitting in sympathy. That’s really awful. Good luck with it.
While that would seriously piss me off, I think the bigger question is if it’s worth taking away time from your blog to pursue. Probably better to create kick ass content and promote the blog rather than go after the copiers. Especially as your site becomes more popular and even more copiers show up.
I’ve run a business for 33 years. Take Darren’s advice. Just ensure that you’re not likely to find yourself in a similar situation to Rachelle.
Unless someone’s absolutely determined to put you out of business, get on with running yours. The moment you let copying and plagiarism get the better of you, your business will be in trouble.
And make sure you have fun.
Rethinking since this morning. I had emailed quite a few people when my content was taken but at the end of the day, did it matter? Not really. The site in question just like the ones you are dealing with are pale imitations. They aren’t you and never will be you because they don’t have your drive or your brains. So my thought…not worth the effort on your part. You asked them and spent time and effort on it but is it taking you off your main focus? Yes. So don’t waste your time on them but use them to drive traffic.
Just wasted time looking for the ersatz version, but couldn’t find anything.
One of them is gone already Tyrant. One is still alive.
Yeah, had a really really lovely email form one. More on that soon.
Merlin Mann has solved this problem by including a copyright (or creative commons) notice in the footer of every post.
It means that any copy/pasting of your work allows you to enforce ownership of your work.
Without it – you might struggle.
Ooh…I do that. It’s half serious copyright notice and half, well…me. My favorite one says unauthorized used of content will lead to dragon attacks. Shows up on my feed as well.
This is a timely post! Just today I found a site that had ripped my latest post…word for word…and posted it on their site.
The only thing they did to “credit” my article is put a link at the very end of the article that points back to the orginal article on my site. So when the reader clicks, they get to see the exact same article they just read!
What should I do? I’m not credited, no permission was given…just ripped off my site.
It happens all the time. Its called scraping. I have hundreds of sites doing it to me.
I’m probably the most non-confrontational person on earth. Just yesterday, I ate pancakes without butter because I didn’t want to disturb the poor busy waitress, even though she said she’d bring butter right out!
However, I honestly believe that the problem of copy-catting is getting WAY out of control. One of my sites was being ripped off blatantly – every single article. The copycats didn’t have an e-mail on their site (cowards), so I notified GOOGLE. GOOGLE acted very swiftly and booted them out of the game.
I didn’t have it in me to notify their host, although it’s what my husband suggested.
I think more of us have to step up and do something. Otherwise, why would it stop? If people keep getting away with a “little,” before you know it, they’ll be going after a “lot.”
I understand having sympathy for them but, personally, I think you have to also have sympathy for their next potential victim. And there will be one.
Unless, that is, someone gives them a reason to stop.
You’re the Blog Tyrant, so you certainly don’t need me giving you advice, but I’d e-mail them and tell them that you’re really sorry but that you’re choosing to be a part of the solution of a growing problem.
Best of luck!
Joi that pancake thing made me laugh out a loud. You sound like my dear mum.
My story came out in the biggest business newspaper in Canada today.
I’m really starting to doubt this guy because he’s dragging his feet and not answering my calls either.
You wrote: “Firstly, I guess it depends on the issue. For example, these two copiers aren’t ripping my content, just my ideas. Is that more or less serious?”
IMHO, it’s much less serious.
So much less serious that I’m truly baffled as to why you are in such an uproar over it. You can’t patent or trademark or copyright an idea. You can copyright the expression of an idea (the exact words, or music) but someone can come along and rework it into a new work (new words, new music, etc.) and in making it their own (their own creative touches) it becomes a new and non-infringing work. (There are cases where very close copying can be a copyright violation, but these are the exceptions, not the rules.) You can patent the process to make an idea into a product, but someone who can come up with a new process or make even the slightest changes to the resulting product can patent their own process and there goes your protections.
For example, there are specialty hammers, but it does no good to patent a new hammer design because someone can make a minor change to the hammer design and call it their own design. Your hammer has a round face? They can make their hammer with an octagon face. Your hammer has claws 1.5 inches long? Their hammer has claws 1.4 inches long. Your hammer has a thin gap between the claws? Their hammer has a thinner gap, or a slightly larger gap. Your hammer weighs 20 ounces? Their hammer weighs 21 ounces. Etc. Their hammer can function in all the ways very similarly to yours, and your hammer could have an entirely new use based on some innovative design, but you really can’t protect and keep that new innovative design to yourself because you can’t patent or copyright protect the idea of your new innovative hammer design.
Similarly, you can’t patent or copyright the idea of this blog.
Finally, the costs to pursue a copyright violation claim are huge. The laws are biased in favor of big corporations such as the RIAA, and the little guy hasn’t much of a chance, especially if you haven’t filed the appropriate registrations in time.
So why waste energy on it? Put your energies on moving forward.
I’m not sure I would classify my article as an uproar. I’m pretty calm really.
When I say ideas though I don’t mean ideas as in concepts for content, etc. I mean that these people have set up blogs called virtually the same thing with the same logos, etc.
I have two comments on this.
1. In the perspective of the world we live in today, I agree with Darren Rowse: Ignore it and just be better. In addition you could of course informe Google and such about them if you like.
2. In a totally new perspective from a world where we share openly all possible knowledge to work together to create the best possible planet for everyone: Celebrate!
Today we have a world filled with copyrights, patents, property, laws and regulations where everyone wants and needs to protect everything they create so that they can earn money to pay bills, etc. etc. It’s a predatory competitive world that no one really likes.
We COULD, however, work together to spread information and knowledge ‘for free’ for everyones benefit. In fact, this is happening also in a large degree already today, with sites like Wikipedia and many many more. For the whole world to take part in this, though, a sea change is needed. We need to realize that money could be abandoned totally in the benefit of both individuals and humanity.
When enough people realize this, we could really start to create a working abundant world for everyone, instead of competing to get most subscribers on our lists and readers of our blogs, to make some bucks.
All the knowledge gathered in the fields of blogging, internet marketing and such, could be used to reach as many people as possible with valuable knowledge and information.
That’s a nice thought Harald. Unfortunately I can’t see it happening.
No, you probably wouldn’t if you’re not ‘into that stuff’. So, I’ll inform you about The Zeitgeist Movement http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/, an organization several hundred thousand members all over the planet, working for the betterment of humanity, realizing that the monetary system and it’s greed is largely contributing to our devastating mindsets. I’m not trying to change anyone, only inform.
Anything that can be imagined can be possible. So, imagine a world without ‘money logic’, but with ‘compassion and sharing logic’, where we don’t have to compete, but rather collaborate in making this the best world for everyone. We can both ‘be realistic’ and have a vision. That’s how the world has changed before.
Another page for you to look at is this: http://www.theresourcebasedeconomy.com/
In any case, I’d like to thank you for your big efforts in writing your blog and spreading your knowledge. I really appreciate it. I agree with others that say that when you get copied, it means you’re good. Ignore them and move on.
Sharing knowledge like you do here on the web is a part of the revolution I am talking about. You are giving away a lot of knowledge for free. And that’s what it’s all about. Sharing. So, thank you again.
Ah-ha! I knew I couldn’t be the Zeitgeist peep on here. I feel like there should be a secret handshake. 🙂
Whoooaaa..! Looks like we’ve infiltrated the whole of society…just like in Fight Club….hehe… 😉
Hmm…looks like we’ve just violated the first two rules then, space monkey. 😛
Just curious. Do they have a post on being copied, yet?
No, but one of them closed shop.
Wow I’ve never had someone copy my stuff like you’re saying (as far as I know), but I have had content ripped and place elsewhere. Way back when I use to get upset, but then I realized the more popular you get, the more it happens.
No way you could fight each one.
One thing which has happened to me, however, which has gotten me a little upset was when I received one of my Google Alerts update for the name of one of my products. Turns out someone must have purchased it and then put it up online for others to download in a forum.
It was a forum which operated in a grey area you could say. I replied to the person who was “looking for the free download link” and told them this was not a free product and I do not authorize anyone to download it for free.
Some of them replied with, “ha… what forum do you think you’re in?”
Luckily, the admin responded positively and made sure the link was gone after I mentioned it.
Just keep doin’ what you’re doin’.
I think too – it is not bad when your content is copied, but worst thing is when copied content is in higher position in search results and you are loosing readers.
I found this sufficiently interesting to skim all the way down. One thing that seems to be missing is the why people do this? (Someone asked this above.)
There is a huge push on the internet these days to make money from affiliate marketing. Many people like Ed Dale and James Schramko seem to be making lots of money teaching people how to drive traffic to sites where the enterprising web entrepreneur has their affiliate links poised to be clicked upon.
There’s nothing inherently wrong or unethical about this except that it encourages some people to cross ethical borders, as they will create fake or misleading content (eg reviews), or plagiarize content (like what they did to BT) to get the search engines to rank them, and to convince people to click on their affiliate links.
And some people are even creating apps that help people cross these ethical lines!
I have come across (at least one) review plugins (WordPress) that actually generates fake reviews (this is touted as a main feature of the plugin) and I recently learned of this site http://thebestspinner.com/
from James Schramko which essentially allows you to take any post or article and “repurpose” it so that it appears to the search engines as a new article.
Its like a Thesaurus on steroids.
All because becoming a content creation machine is an essential component of getting to the top of Search rankings and doing well at affiliate marketing, and of course it’s too hard to generate your own content.
While theBestSpinner.com is positioned as a tool to help you repurpose your own content, I think the temptation to take other people’s work as the input for this tool is too great for some people.
As the gurus like Ed Dale, James Schramko, Anik Singal et al have more success with their courses I think we can expect to find these instances (like what precipitated this thread) increase.
Do you think those things like the spinner constitute stealing?
Not only is it copying, it’s ultra lazy try to hide it copying. Now if some one is trying to redo one of their own articles, that’s between them and Googlele
I agree. I can research a single topic (or keyword) and write *at least* a dozen unique articles about it in a single sitting if need be. What people want to do with their own original (or purchased) content is their call, but seems like hiring a reasonably priced professional writer who knows what they’re doing would provide way better returns than spinning, scraping or stealing…
Not necessarily. The developer states that it is to be used for your own content. My point is that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it can be used to steal other people’s work and use it as your own.
This point cannot be lost on the developer also.
I should clarify. Spinner isn’t copying. Spinner is a tool, just like a hammer. The person holding the handle decides the current purpose of the tool.
Personally I had thought about buying this kind of tool before, to spin my own posts and put them up on Squidoo and EZine and those kind of sites for backlink purposes. I might still do it one day.
I’m creative and I write what I think but I couldn’t imagine myself writing 10 articles about the exact same subject using different words.
Ignore and focus on improving is better than diverting your mind from your goal.
Someone copying you means you are now popular. Therefore it’s a sign of success.
I won’t put my legs into unless they intend to damage my reputation and content or collecting undue benefits out of my hard work. I agree with you ‘ignore and be better’.
Moreover, it would be much harder to prove when it comes to ideas. Ideas are not independent and completely original. It goes on evolving – collecting, cancelling, improving. But you can’t stay ignored if somebody is snatching your share!
I visited my offender’s “Contact Us” page and said I was glad he got something out of my content and would he kindly mention me in his article and give me a link.
I asked him on Twitter, “Did you get my email?”
He said, “Yes, I did,” replied no further, and took no steps.
It’s stuck in my craw. It seems as though the overwhelming majority of your commenters say “just forget about it.”