Website plagiarism strikes again

If your website is somewhat popular but not so established as to have its own brand name and legal team, then it’s very likely it will be plagiarized at some point. This happened to my Ubuntu tutorials site recently, and thank you to the individual who pointed it out to me (if you want to be acknowledged by name, shoot me another email—not sure what privacy concerns you may have).

What I do is a volunteer service. I’m not making big money on these tutorials. A lot of hard work went into making and maintaining the tutorials for the past four years, and the money I make off ads covers server costs and gives a bare minimum compensation for the time I put into making the site (I can’t quit my day job to make Ubuntu tutorials, believe me).

I’ve already made it quite clear in my FAQ that I don’t mind people mirroring the site or translating it:

Can I translate or link to the tutorials here?
I’ve had numerous requests asking if people can link to or translate the Psychocats Ubuntu website. The answer is yes. You can link to Psychocats without asking my permission. If you want to translate Psychocats Ubuntu, you may do that as well (please let me know, though—I’m just curious to know what’s going on), and I encourage spreading the knowledge.

I haven’t officially licensed the documentation, but the closest I’ve found to what I’d say embodies the spirit with which I’m giving Psychocats Ubuntu to the community is the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. If you would like to mirror Psychocats, you may do so, but please send me a link to the mirrored site, so I can know to refer people there also. And make sure you keep the mirror up to date!

Yes, the Creative Commons license I refer to actually specifies attribution. You should acknowledge where you got it from. Don’t pass it off as your own. And hotlinking is just really bad netiquette. If you’re going to steal images, steal them properly—download, upload to your own server, link to the new upload. Don’t hotlink them—use my server bandwidth and link to my hosted images directly.

After this kind soul let me know about the content and bandwidth theft, I reported the infringement to Blogger and also changed the images to let the offender know about the hotlinking and how it’s not cool. Very shortly afterwards, all the blog posts from that site were removed. I’m not sure if Blogger shut the blog down or if the (intentional or unintentional) thief took the postings down herself or himself. I’m just glad it’s down.

If you like my tutorials, link to them. If you want to steal the whole tutorial, don’t hotlink my images, and also make sure you give proper attribution and a link back to the source. If you plan on making a translation of the tutorials, send me the link to the translation so I can refer to it users who speak the translated-to language. Really, it all just boils down to common courtesy. No one wants to get involved in a legal battle. Just don’t be an asshole.

P.S. My blog posts are not released under any Creative Commons license. They are all copyrighted in the usual way (immediately upon writing).

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2 Comments

  1. I’d suggest include abridged preferences (no hotlinking, etc) in an “about” page for this blog.

  2. This has happened to many of my websites… in fact, it happens to all of my websites. The only thing that can be done is a DMCA request. Lucky for me all the people who steal from me rely on Google to make money.

    People who steal content aren’t concerned with your about page. Many of these people make hundreds of websites and keep them up as long as no one complains.

    The real failure here is on Google’s part. Google ignores stolen content and makes advertising money off your stolen content until you, the owner of the content, files a signed, official, written, legal document with Google.

    Google is happy to promote and profit from stolen content, and they make it quite difficult to get it all removed. If someone steals 200 pages of content you have to send Google a list of each page URL that is stolen, and what the offending URL is that matches your stolen content.

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