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Calacanis on content theft: dob ’em in!

Calacanis on content theft: dob ’em in!

Jason Calacanis has proposed a different way of combating the increase in content theft: dobbing the thieves into the ad networks they rely on.

The best practice right now should be to call these people out and use our collective leverage with the advertising networks (adbrite, google adsense, tribal fusion, burst, etc) to hit these guys where it hurts: their paypal accounts.

The only reason people do this is to make money from 3rd party ads’€¦ if every time this happens 20 publishers call a 3rd party adserver and say ‘€œwhy are you paying this person to steal our content’€? we will see some action.

Follow the money and freeze the assets’€”Elliot Ness style. You carry a badge, you carry a gun’€¦ and don’€™t go bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Imagine your the CEO of one of these ad networks and an email comes to your desk with 20 of your top publishers saying ‘€œWe support X publisher in their effort to protect their content from the following website which is stealing content.’€? When you’€™re an ad network your main cost of doing business is signing up publishers, and your publisher relationships are all you’€™ve got.

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I think the notion is noble, but I have two concerns: the first is that Google won’t listen, my experience with Google and communications has been poor to say the least and I have no confidence in the company responding to complaints about content theft. Secondly, the pursuit of these people takes up time and effort that could be better used in other activities: i.e. what’s the opportunity cost of pursuing content thieves? I’m willing to give it a go, but I can remember similar initiatives against comment spammers a couple of years back, at the end of the day the flood became so great most of us switched from attacking strategies to defensive strategies.

View Comments (7)
  • Big difference between this and comment spam is that comment spam folks don’t have any signup costs and these folks have to signup and be approved by folks like Google, Tribal Fusion, Burst, etc.

    That process takes a very long time and it is tied to a TAX ID or Social Security number. If you get someone banned from Google Adsense, Tribal Fusion, Burst, etc. you are going to really hurt them. It will take them a long time to get back in and if they do they need to get another tax id or ss#… not an easy task.

    If Tribal Fusion or Google did not respond to you alone I could see that. However, if you had ten folks back you up I bet they would. Ten people with $10,000 a month each in Google Adsense complain as a group I bet you’ll see results.

    Also, you really only have to do this to a couple of folks. If people see others getting kicked from Google Adsense, Tribal Fusion, etc for lifting content others will not do it.

    We’ve had a dozen folks republish feeds and 11 of 12 have stopped, and I’m sure we will get the latest one to stop soon. If you don’t defend yourself now you will have a harder time later.

  • Thought provoking post for sure. I’m with Jason, in that I think community action can be incredibly powerful if wielded correctly. My blog’s not big enough for anyone to have noticed it yet, but I can imagine be very unhappy if someone started stealing my content (not fair-use commentary, but just outright stealing.) I think it would be wise to start a Blogger’s Content Collective, or some such thing, as a way to put pressure on Advertisers when it is needed. It could also operate as a kind of Neighborhood Watch for the blogosphere…If I knew more big-time bloggers I’d be tempted to do this myeslf.

  • […] As I was taking a break this evening, I cruised the sites of a few well-respected bloggers (culled from a recent list by Darren at ProBlogger,) and came upon two similar posts, one at, the other at The Blog Herald, lamenting the outright theft of original content, presumably for the goal of making a quick buck on ad-revenue, and wandering what could or should be done about it. […]

  • You were right, Google doesn’t care, here is their responce to me:

    Google is a provider of information, not a mediator. We serve ads targeted to certain web pages, but we don’t control the content of these pages. For these kinds of questions or comments, it is best to directly address the webmaster of the page in question.

    However, it is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the text of which can be found at the U.S. Copyright Office website: and other applicable intellectual property laws. In this case, this means that if we receive proper notice of infringement, we will forward that notice to the responsible web site publisher.

    To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a written communication (by fax or regular mail, not by email) that sets forth the
    items specified below. Please note that pursuant to that Act, you may be liable to the alleged infringer for damages (including costs and attorneys’ fees) if you materially misrepresent that you own an item when you in fact do not. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether you have the right to request removal from our service, we suggest that you first contact an attorney.

  • here’s a solution from bloglogic if you have a wordpress blog, you might find a way to do it on other blogs as well.

    He’s irritated at it happening too and has modified a wordpress file wp-rss2.php, so it includes a visible copyright notice in every post in the feed. So if any of you readers have wordpress blogs they might want to use this.

    “First thing your (RSS) readers will see is your excerpt from your post followed by a horisontal line and this underneath:

    “© 2005 This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you’re not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you’re looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact YOUR-CONTACT-DETAILS so we can take legal action immediately.�

    so it’ll be pretty obvious what they’re doing.


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