I’ve just sent my first formal ‘cease and desist’ request to a company that appears to be ripping off my content and publishing it as if it were their own.
Maybe ‘cease and desist’ isn’t the right phrase (I’m not a lawyer) but the polite email I’ve sent (full text below) is designed to achieve the same thing – have the company remove my content forthwith from their site.
Like many bloggers, I encounter other sites that re-post some of my content. While most of those sites aren’t places I’m particularly keen on – posts are usually surrounded with ads – at least the sites I’ve seen include a link back to the originating site (ie, my blog) and it’s quite clear to anyone who the original owner of the content is. (See this story plus Constantin Basturea’s account from April 2005.)
There are currently only two organizations who are allowed to repost my content in a way that’s different to the terms of this site’s Creative Commons license – Web Pro News and Corante, both of whom syndicate my content under an agreement.
That’s most definitely not the case with a blog called The Web â€œInside and Outâ€ which is the property of a company called WSUN Technologies. They have posted two of my posts from yesterday on their blog in such a blatant manner – no attribution, no linking: they look like original content there – that I felt compelled to drop them a line and just say: please stop doing that.
Finding contact info on the blog is impossible – there isn’t any. So I wrote to an email address in the contact page on the WSUN site. In case that doesn’t get to the right person there, and thinking that if they continue apparently ripping off my content they will definitely see this post, here’s the text of my email:
From: Neville Hobson
Sent: 13 July 2006 11:43
Subject: Copyright infringement on your weblog
Dear WSUN Technologies
I saw today that, on July 12 2006, you posted verbatim content from my weblog on your own weblog (The Web “Inside and Out”) in a manner that contravenes the Creative Commons copyright license governing third-party use of my content.
I have discovered these two posts on your site –
Both contain the exact content from these respective posts on my site –
While I am willing to consider requests for use of my content within the terms of the Creative Commons license, you have made no such request. Furthermore, you have used my content in a manner which gives the clear impression that you are the originator of that content. Neither of your posts provide attribution to the original content creator nor a link to my site.
See the terms of my Creative Commons license –
Therefore, I request you to cease this infringement and remove my content from your site immediately.
I’d appreciate hearing from you to confirm that you have honoured this request. Thank you.
I took some screenshots of the offending posts on the WSUN blog, so I have the evidence.
How did they get hold of my content? They could have visited the blog and just scraped it. More likely, I think, is from the RSS feed which includes full content. The feed also includes a link to the Creative Commons license at the end of each post entry, so there’s no way they didn’t see that.
Incidentally, here’s how I found out about this. The WSUN blog is based on WordPress. Their posts automatically sent trackbacks to my posts which were waiting in the comment moderation queue this morning as they were first-time commenters. Pretty cheeky really!
You might ask why I’m bothering with this. Isn’t it just not worth the time in writing such an email? And this post? What if they just ignore it? Is it really worth the headache?
Well, I think it is. If you ignore such apparent blatant theft of your intellectual property, you may as well accept that anything you create that’s made available for others under an honour system (Creative Commons) is really just up for grabs by anybody to do anything they like with it. Even make money from it.
That’s just not on.