Cynic in Spain

Real Life on the Costa del Sol

Repelling the Pirates Part I (Curse of the Published Article)

(subtitle copyright Andrew Belles. Used by permission)

I’ve just spent the weekend fighting off pirates, well to be concise, a pirate. Not on the high seas somewhere off the coast of Somalia as you might suspect from recent news media reports but on the even more uncharted, unregulated and tempestuous waters of the internet.

As a computer systems designer /developer and regular contributor to numerous periodicals in my pre-retirement days software piracy, plagiarism and copyright infringement were an unfortunate daily bane. Everyone knew it was happening but, without a specific institution or individual to target, one could do very little about it.

Believe me, there is nothing more likely to set your blood boiling than to see the results of your hard work misappropriated and either passed off as the efforts of another or, perhaps even worse, used in such a way as to line the pockets of the miscreant.

I will not bore you with the details of what transpired when I detected that one of my articles from this blog had been copied and published elsewhere without attribution or acknowledgement of the author/source (i.e. me/here) only to say that the particular piece has now been removed but without a word of apology or apparent remorse on the part of the perpetrator. In fact he went as far as to imply, in one of his emails, that he was doing me some kind of favour ‘A win-win situation´ to quote his exact words. Duh?

No, what I would like to do here is to look at the whys and wherefores of the situation. In order to cover myself I would like make emphatically clear that what follows is my personal take on the situation and that I in no way wish to imply that these were the motivations of Mr. Wolfgang Brand. The reader may, of course, draw their own conclusions.

The gentleman in question describes his profession as ‘online marketing’ and he hosts a number of blog sites some of which are set up to be, ostensibly, informational guides but are actually thinly veiled, in one case transparently so, portals to the many real estate agents in the area. In itself not necessarily a bad thing, many of the real estate companies offer much more information on their websites than mere housing no doubt to the benefit of their clients, prospective or otherwise.

What I think is going on here is something a little more insidious, bear with me while I digress for a moment.

Internet search engines, of which Google is possibly the best known, are constantly striving to present to their users the most relevant and meaningful web pages for any given search criteria. Until recently, in the case of Google, one of the highest of these criteria was the links to a particular web page from highly ranked external sources. This bred the development of link farms and link swapping by web masters in order to boost their own page rankings and thus placement in the Google results window. Google, clever chaps that they are, now rate page content, especially original and relevant content, more highly. This, in turn, presents a dilemma to those whose sites actual content may be no more than a list of addresses with the same estate agent speak descriptions attached to each and every one. After all how original can you be when describing an apartment for sale which is also advertised for sale by countless of your competition. And so content has become king, he who can offer the search engines the best content will be top of the page and so, in theory at least, generate the most traffic to their site.

And thus we come to the use of blog sites as a portal, the content can be garnered, free of charge, from the general public in the form of, for example, comments about their favourite or least favourite bar or restaurant, this will be original and relevant and so score highly within the search engines. If the ultimate owner of such a site is an estate agent that happens to sell bars and restaurants they’re quids in traffic wise. In fact by actively soliciting or plagiarising contributions, such as pieces like my own, from unsuspecting Joe Bloggs (no pun intended) the marketers are not only filling their pockets but those of their clients in one fell swoop. Clever marketing indeed Herr Brand. And bear in mind there is no cost involved in setting up a blog, indeed this one is totally free of charge from WordPress and so I am left to wonder whether anybody monitors the blog sites and their activities set up under the auspices of what are, I am sure, relatively well meaning organisations or whether they too are too busy counting their advertising revenue.

In conclusion, you will notice that I have taken active steps to protect my copyright and would stongly advise anyone in a similar situation to do the same. But for this once I will make an exception;

Herr Brand, if you are reading this, I hereby give you permission to copy and paste this article, in its entirety, to any and all of your commercial blog sites. Much good may it do you.

© Cynic in Spain. All Rights Reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

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February 2, 2009 - Posted by | Articles

6 Comments »

  1. Mr. Brave Anonymous

    Two things;

    1. The article had a link to your website, to acknowledge the source.

    2. Copying article to get content listed doesnt work as Google filters out duplicate content. So your accusation, that people steal content to use it for that purpuse, is plain bullshit and shows your lack of knowledge in the matter.

    3. Yes, I use blogs for a commercial purpose. And?

    Wolfgang Brand

    Reply:

    Mr. Brave Anonymous?
       You have my personal email address. In which way am I any more anonymous than you? In fact I offered to meet with you in three seperate emails, the opportunity of which you singularly failed to take up.

    To respond to your two(sic) points

    1) Which was added after I had pointed out to you that it did not. I in fact asked for the whole article to be linked not copied which you did not do.

    2) My lack of knowledge? Google filters out duplicate content within one domain name not over the length and breadth of the internet. So content copied from one site to another will be seen as content for both sites as long as they are not within the same domain name. Google will only react to copyright infringement when it is specifically pointed out to them. For someone who sells himself as an SEO you really should read the google blogs and webmaster guidelines.

    2a) If your statement was true. Why copy the article in the first place? Why not link to it as you did with other articles? Irrespective of this, copying someones work without their permisson is illegal!

    3) My point was not that you use blogs for commercial purposes but that are the providers of free blogs aware of such activities? You are, of course, quite at liberty to do what you want until you get caught. At which point you really have no leg to stand on and shouldn’t winge.

    Comment by wolfgangbrand | February 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. 1. No, it was put before that

    2. No, Google filters duplicate content croos domain, in fact on the whole internet. This is a fact, trust me on that one ist my job.

    3. To get you audience. Also from a legal perspective, your blog anonymous and there is no copyright notice either. Hence its open to the puplic an d anyone can use it.

    4. yes thez are, and ist 100 % legal

    And now go and do something useful with your time.

    Wolfgang Brand

    Response

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    I’m not sure this was even written by Mr Brand, his English is usually much better so I had a mind just to delete it and have done. But as I did not wish to be accused of censorship I will let it stand.

    I will, however, not dignify it by replying directly.

    It is, of course, inaccurate as anyone with access to a search engine can find out, try copyscape, google webmaster blogs and, indeed, the wordpress terms of service (especially no. 2) for a start.

    As for the advice to do something useful with my time I would suggest that the writer take their own advice. I certainly have more useful things to do than deal with dross like this. In fact I can think of one right now, I feel another article coming on.

    Watch this space.

    Comment by Sheraka Sirnah | February 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi Cynic in Spain,

    I posted this on the other blog where this is being discussed. I do know the man in question (hope you don’t hold it against me ;) ), but in being fair, I thought my comment should also be posted here as well.

    From other blog:
    Well this has been entertaining.

    I don’t know if this is going to help or hinder you discussion, but i’ll say it anyway.
    looking on google, if i take the first paragraph of ‘A place in the sun’ wolfgang Brands site comes up.

    Cynicspain, had a look at a few of your article (well written by the way) and it does not look like google has indexed many of them. (ADD ON: had the same issue, with wordpress, i don’t think google follows the article links on the widget)
    By the way wolfgang, you seem to have the same issue on a few of your pages.

    According to google:
    Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to block the version on their sites with robots.txt.

    this site makes an interesting point
    http://www.webconfs.com/duplicate-content-filter-article-1.php
    Let’s look at the issue regarding some search engines possibly not considering the source of the original content from distributed articles. Remember, some search engines, like Google, use link popularity to determine the most relevant results. Continue to build your link popularity, while using tools like http://www.copyscape.com to find how many other sites have the same article, and if allowed by the author, you may be able to alter the article as to make the content unique.

    Regards
    Andrew Belles
    http://blog.arribaestates.com
    (my content!! ;) )

    Response

    Andrew,

    Thank you for your informative and useful comment. I believe that this somewhat blows away Mr Brands ascertation that his copying of my article would be ignored by Google. I too had found the same piece in the Google Webmaster Blogs and much more, which will be appearing in my next piece (Repelling the Pirates Part II (Dead Mans Blog)).

    One point to note, however, is that I did not syndicate my content to Mr Brand, he duplicated it without my consent and in breach of my copyright.

    I would, however, like to correct you on one small point. You say, above, ‘This has been entertaining’ in fact it still is and is likely to become even more so in the very near future; that is, of course, unless you are Wolfgang Brand, in which case you will not find it very entertaining at all.

    That you know the gentleman in question will in no way colour my response to you, I too know many people who are, not to put to fine a point on it, somewhat less than desirable company.

    Kind regards

    A Cynic in Spain.

    Comment by Andrew | February 26, 2009 | Reply

  4. Hi Cynic,

    Haha, no i’m not Wolfgang.

    I’ll keep an eye on your blog and am already looking forward to part 3, Repelling the Pirates III (Curse of the Published article)

    Regards
    Andrew Belles
    http://blog.arribaestates.com

    Response

    Hi Andrew,

    I can tell you’re not Wolfgang, you, at least seem to have a sense of humour.

    I sincerely hope that there will be no need to write a Part III. I think you will find that in Part II (coming real soon now) that I have just about done and dusted the situation. Your comments on it will be most welcome.

    If, however, such an unwelcome occurance should arise I think perhaps Repelling the Pirates Part III (A Twits End) will be more suitable. Oops, sorry a little typo crept in there, that should read At Wits end.
    Although I do like your suggestion, Perhaps I could, with your permission of course, append it to Repelling the Pirates Part I.

    cynic.

    Comment by Andrew | February 27, 2009 | Reply

  5. Hi,

    permission given.

    Although joking aside, I do hope this all ends amicably for all involved.

    Andrew
    http://blog.arribaestates.com

    Response

    Andrew,

    Thank you for that, your excellent suggestion has now been added to the title of the article and full credit has been given in the body of the text.

    Cynic.

    Comment by Andrew | February 27, 2009 | Reply

  6. Bravo,
    a clever jab.

    Regards
    Andrew Belles
    http://blog.arribaestates.com

    Comment by Andrew | February 27, 2009 | Reply


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