It was less than 3 months ago. I was on Skype with a friend. We were at our computers, discussing Internet issues and Technorati rankings, when he checked a backlink and found a blog by young man named Elliott Bäck. The content, however, was my friend’s work, complete with my friend’s copyright warning stating that
if you see this, the content is stolen.
That page is now a 404.
Elliott Bäck is the same guy who developed a plugin called HashCash to circumvent spammers.
So why would he develop Autoblog, a plugin that is a content scraper?
While I can perfectly understand Elliott’s motivation for writing this plugin (learning more about RSS) I think releasing it was a bad, bad, bad idea. I’m sure a plugin like this can have it’s legitimate merit’s but I personally feel it’s blatantly obvious that it’s number one use will be the thing we’ve all learned to hate: splogs on which we’re going to find OUR content with ads placed all around it. said Marco van Hylckama Vlieg, freelance developer & designer on his blog, The Net Is Dead, last July.
I’m a teacher. I can understand that learning is a great reason to develop the Autoblog plugin. I’m good at math too, but I can’t get to the calculation that explains why it is good for humanity to release it for use. Can you? What possible reasons could a guy have? Money? Ego? Am I missing something?
As a writer, I’ve always taken the idea of owning my work seriously. As a publisher, I’ve always understood that no one can copyright an idea. As blogger, I’m tired of seeing people steal what my friends and I have spent our time working on, tired of watching sploggers toss ads up alongside our work to make their money.
I’ve been hit by Autoblog sites more times than I can count. One site actually ran ads for Autoblog under a blogroll of more than 10 of my friends who were also being scraped. It took a front page post on my blog called, “Is This Guy Stealing Your Content Too?” to smoke out who was behind the scraper to get that blog closed down.
These days, the irony is that Elliott Bäck has his own problem.
To whom it may concern,
I act on behalf of myself, and am the exclusive owner of the copyright works in question, that is, all of the content and design of my website and blog network, found on elliottback.com and its subdomains. Browsing a server on your network, 188.8.131.52 and the URL www.hotblogstoday.com, I find unauthorized copies of the ElliottBack network material which infringes on my rights as copyright holder . . .
Every little kid knows, if you play with matches, you might get burned.
Liz Strauss writes at Successful-Blog where folks talk about the ethics of what we do.