A New Twist in my Content Theft Saga

[Update: The example links below no longer work because the site removed my content as I requested that they do. ]

I wrote a few days ago about having discovered that a lawyer was grabbing all my blog posts and republishing them wholesale on his website. He was also doing this to several other legal bloggers. It appears he has now taken down the offending site in its entirety. (Either that, or his ISP did.)

Meanwhile, no sooner did I plug that hole than another one opened up. I now find a new site that is picking up all my posts and republishing them, and that is doing the same for any number of other blogs — many that seem to have no relevance whatsoever to the topic of the site.

The site appears to be the website of a company that provides document-management software to the legal industry and other industries. I say “appears to be” because the URL of the offending page (electronic-dms.info) is registered to an SEO company, Artificial Intelligence SEO. The software company, Treeno Software, has its own URL, www.treenosoftware.com, which it owns.

To Treeno’s credit, let me stop right here and say that I emailed the company this morning and heard back within minutes. “We were not aware that this was happening,” said the email. “We will deal with it immediately.”

The top portion of the offending SEO page is a mirror image of the legitimate company page. All the links are active and point to internal treenosoftware.com pages. However, on the SEO page, if you scroll down below where the company page stops, you find a so-called “Electronic Document Management Software” blog. That blog is purely a feed of content taken from all sorts of other blogs — mine included. (Meanwhile, the company has its own, legitimate blog.)

Here is an example of one of my posts appearing on the SEO page: example.

Here is another: example 2.

If you look at the underlying HTML, it appears that the SEO page is essentially grabbing the legitimate page as a sort-of header, so the active Treeno page always appears in full above the SEO content. On the SEO portion of the page, all the active links redirect through the SEO site, presumably for tracking purposes.

As I noted, Treeno says it was unaware this was happening and that it will deal with it. I don’t know whether Treeno hired this other company or if the other company simply pirated Treeno’s page in the same way it did my content.

What I do know is that this is an object lesson in bad SEO. A legitimate SEO provider can help a website increase its traffic. But it is this kind of tactic that gives SEO a bad name.

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  • While I recognize that the “intent” is SEO, it’s too bad that this is considered SEO. It’s more appropriately called copyright infringement, plagiarism, or web spam.

    Folks, in the best case this stuff doesn’t work and makes you an online embarrassment. At worst, it subjects you to copyright infringement suits and gets you banned from search engines.

    Just stop it. And if you’re paying someone to do “SEO” for you, make sure you understand exactly what they’re planning to do for you.

  • Mark Moskow

    2 questions Bob:
    1.)How did you track them down?
    2.) What is the maximum amount of information that they could have posted without it being considered plagiarism? Id the threshold a number of lines/words or a percentage of the content? It is clear that they went over the limit … but just curious.

  • Mark – There is no hard-and-fast rule for when the quantity of material copied transforms from fair use to theft. The evaluation of fair use depends on the overall circumstances of the use. In a blog post, it is appropriate to quote someone else’s blog in commenting on it, but you shouldn’t republish the entire post, at least not without permission.

    In this case, it wasn’t even arguably fair use. The copier was using 100% of everything I posted to my blog — every word of every post. And he wasn’t doing it to comment on my posts, just to fill out content on his own site.

  • I just noticed your blog. I realize it is an old one, but in case you didn’t already find this out: The content thief seems to be framing your site. You can prevent this by inserting some anti-framing javascript on your site. Another option is puting this line into your .htaccess file:
    Header always append X-Frame-Options DENY