Am I being a grouch?

Yesterday, I received a GigaAlert that a British ham’s website contained a reference to “KB6NU.” I’m always curious about these links and clicked over to the fellow’s website.

What I found dismayed me a little. He not only had a link to my website, but had completely taken the text from one of my posts and re-posted it on his website. Now, that wouldn’t be so bad if it was just some ham who thought my post was interesting and wanted to share it with others. This guy, however, was trying to make money with his website, and had both advertising and an online store. Basically, he was stealing my content to attract hams to his website so that he could then sell them stuff.

I emailed him, asking him to remove my content. In reply, I got the following:

Firstly, any content that appears on my site is NOT “taken” from your site, i have feeds taken from QRZ.COM amongst others that get posted automatically to my site if they contain certain keywords. I’d never even heard of you or your blog until i received your email.

As iv’e never taken or copied anything directly off your site, i’d have to delete the feeds i have set up from other sites, which i’m NOT prepared to do. I notice that one or two of said posts actually promote a book youv’e written, so you in effect are getting FREE publicity ANYWAY !

I SUGGEST YOU STOP BEING SUCH A GROUCH and get over yourself. Your email hardly promotes the “spirit of amateur radio”. By the way if google has you at #1, it’s because your content and links appear on MANY MANY sites.

In order to delete these above mentioned feeds, many many other posts would be omitted and/or deleted from the automated feed system i have set up on my site, so as previously stated, i am NOT prepared to delete my feeds.

So, not only was he stealing my content, he was doing it automatically. And, I’m not the only one he’s stealing content from. He’s stealing content from many of the more popular amateur radio bloggers.

My reply to him was:

No matter how you’re getting my content, you’re still stealing it, and you’re stealing it from all the other bloggers as well. I would suggest that stealing is also not “in the spirit of amateur radio.”  Putting links on your site is one thing, but reposting entire posts is copyright infringement. It’s as simple as that.

One of the things that bugs me the most is that he somehow feels that he’s not responsible because it’s the software on his site that is copying my content. I know that web hosting companies take a dim view of copyright infringement, and I’m considering contacting them about this.

I haven’t yet gotten a reply to this message, but I thought I’d throw it open to you. Am I being unreasonable here?

Comments

  1. There’s a lot of things that depends on, and a lot of it is specific on exactly what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Based on the information you did give, though, it sounds like he is in the wrong.

    Please share the site (PM is fine), I’ve read a fair bit on content theft, and since I’m a blogger myself, I’d interested to see who and what this person has (and I don’t devote a lot of time to keeping alerts when my name or call is mentioned like you do).

    Whether or not you were a grouch in your original email, well, you didn’t post the email, and you can be quite grouchy about people replying to your CW CQs with “599 TNX OM” :-P … but it doesn’t really matter if he’s stealing your content.

  2. Michael Brown, KG9DW says:

    Theft is theft. Given your disclaimer at the bottom of the page…”all you have to do is ask”…I’d say you’re in the right. I’m also not sure what service legally provides true automated scrapes of contents. I read a bunch of blogs and aggregators and I’ve not seen a legit site blatently swipe something without atribution.

  3. James Murphy, KJ6FXA says:

    Dan,
    I believe you are not being unreasonable. It is just as if someone, using a remote controlled robot, directs the robot to break into your house and take your stuff. When caught the humans defense is “I didn’t break into your house, it was the robot!!” Who is guilty? Just my take…YMMV
    JamesM.
    KJ6FXA

  4. Yohei, N8YQX says:

    On the bright side, someone thinks your work is worth stealing. I think that says volumes about the quality of work you do with your blogs. Keep up the good job!

  5. Dan KB6NU says:

    Well, it gets even better. I just got another reply from this guy. He just replied:

    But obviously NOT as simple as YOU !
    Goodbye.

    I guess that I’m going to have to contact his web host and let them know about this. In general, web hosting companies don’t take too kindly to this kind of behavior.

  6. Bob, KG6AF says:

    This kind of casual web thievery is all too common. My metric is, the lamer the excuses, the more likely it’s theft. The two most common excuses are (a) everyone does it and (b) just think of all the PR I’m giving you by doing you the favor of reproducing your stuff on my site (your nemesis used this one). I have to tip my hat to him for his imaginative additions of (c) I didn’t take it directly from your site (everyone knows that buying through a fence A-OK), (d) removing your content will inconvenience me (I assume that, like American law, British law has some kind of “freedom from inconvenience” clause), and (e) the problem is your bad attitude, bud. I’d say he’s pegging the Lame-O-Meter.

  7. Dan KB6NU says:

    The other thing about this situation is that, the way I understand it, if you don’t assert your copyright when you find out about an infringement, then it’s like giving carte blanche to anyone to use your content freely. I don’t want that.

    • Taper Wickel says:

      This is actually a wide-spread myth; copyright does not go away regardless of whether it is defended. Copyright automatically holds from time of publication (and “publication” is awfully broad here) until expiration (since 1978, that’s the life of the author plus 70 years), and since 1989 there’s not even a need for a copyright notice.

      Now, if you hold a _trademark_, and do not defend it, you can lose that – hence the trademark holders’ insistence on terms like “Kleenex brand facial tissue” or “Xerox brand photo-copy machines.”

  8. The only way to avoid copyists is not to post/ Due to copyists, many photographers, no longer put their portfolios samples on the web, but will email a pdf to real customers.
    2-3 companies sell watermark removal software for photos etc. Things are that bad.

    If your business is harmed then that’s another story. Hire a lawyer: prove he’s stealing your content and sue him. Else just focus on less grouchy topics

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Well, I’m using this as a record of my ham radio life, and this is part of that. I will most certainly focus on less-grouchy topics, though. :)

  9. Larry W2LJ says:

    Dan,

    Last year, I saw my content being reposted on a popular Amateur Radio website. I contacted the owner of said site and told him I had no problem with that, providing that I was given credit and that there would be no confusion over who the author is. He complied and I thanked him for it. That was just one case, I am sure my stuff is probably on sites that I am totally unaware of. Good thing I’m not doing this to make a buck – I’d really be angry, then!

    Larry W2LJ

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      I do make a buck from my writing, and I like to think that my writing makes a buck for my clients. I also give away plenty of my writing—the PDF versions of my Tech and General Class study guides are free and I send out a newsletter column to more than 300 amateur radio clubs nearly every month. That’s why I get angry when people steal it from me without asking.

      btw, GigaAlert is a free service. I have it set up to search for my callsign and send me links to pages that contain it. That’s how I found this “scraper.” Even if you don’t care who re-posts your stuff, it’s interesting to see where and how it gets posted.

  10. This is theft, fight it. Under the Berne Convention, which the UK has signed, all content is born copyrighted, whether it has a notice or not. Report it and spread the word. As the instructions below recommend, also contact his ISP.

    http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p05_copyright_infringement

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Thanks for the link, Walt.

      The offender decided to take down my content after all. I found this laughable e-mail from him this morning:

      i’ve deleted your “TWO” posts, your’e just NOT worth the hassle. Not as if i’m trying to make any money off your back you pompous greed driven individual. NOW .. get lost !

      This is all the more laughable because he has both advertising and a “store” on his website. So, he’s most definitely trying to make money from my content.

  11. Henry N6HCM says:

    I wonder if this message will be caught up in his automatic collection of stuff … I kinda hope it does.

    You’re not being unreasonable at all. The conditions are right there: “Please don’t use this content any where else without my permission. Normally, all you have to do is ask.”

  12. This is easy to resolve. Set your blog to offer just excerpt from article, not full article. That will still provide you promotion through RSS but as article is not available in whole readers will come to your blog.

  13. The use of the word “feeds” signals to me the other site was probably(!) using information from RSS feeds. One of the design goals of RSS feeds is to allow another site to copy content (‘syndication’). Good form in using RSS is to link to the source and give the right credit for where the content is from.
    Some RSS feeds are just headlines and intros, others allow complete copies of articles, including links.
    One of the RSS feeds that your site offers has complete articles with links to your site, but no copyright metadata nor author metadata in the feed. You want to look at this.

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