Saturday, November 09, 2013

Messing With a Thief When My Blog Content was Stolen

While I was working on my last book, How to Do Everything: SharePoint 2013, the main McGraw-Hill editor on the project sent me a nicely worded email that basically asked if I was plagiarizing content for the book.

I was shocked to say the least, but when I read through the rest of the email, my shock quickly turned to burning rage. The reason I was being asked this question was because some moron was copying other people’s blog posts to his blog and passing them off as his own. I had used some of my own content in the draft of the book and the editor wasn’t sure who wrote it.

I sent the scoundrel an email giving him 48 hours to remove the post before I took any action. Of course, he probably didn’t realize that I could actually do anything if he chose to ignore me. I also contacted some other people to let them know that their content was being stolen by the same guy.

The funny part was that the thief was so lazy that he didn’t even bother copying the images, he just copied the source and therefore I had control over the images on his blog. A friend of mine had encountered the same thing and decided to mess with the culprit, so I figured I’d do the same. The first day after the warning, I gave him a chance to take down the post with no really embarrassing images on his blog. Remember that these are screenshots of his blog. I could do whatever I wanted with the images since they were on my server.

day 1 – tame and to the point

On day 2, I asked my friend for permission to use the image he posted when his content was stolen.

day 2 – you should have listened on day 1

After that, I went for a random theme.

day 3 – now his blog was actually worth reading

day 4 and 5 – just some random stuff

Eventually, he took down the post, but he never apologized or replied to my message, but there’s a lesson for lazy thieves.


Muskie said...

Lots of blog sites get scraped, full RSS feeds is often the cause. If you weren't on blogspot you could have done more to prevent this. Usually you don't want people hotlinking to your images, you can change them as you did, but publishing online especially on a website like blogspot is risky.

Now Tumblr and to a lesser extent encourage 'reblogging'. That is often very close to plagarism, but at least credit is given to the original author. Scraping will never go away, but you should consider moving your blog off blogspot.

Stephen Cawood said...

Hi Muskie. Can you clarify your point please? How would moving to another blog platform help?

I'll still have an RSS feed if I switched and I suspect this was a manual job (copy/paste) rather than something automated.