The content of my blogs - which is all copyrighted specifically to address this issue - is being repeatedly scraped (stolen) and used on spam blogs. The content of your blog might be suffering the same fate. I'm currently faced with an explosion in the amount of material being stolen. Read on to find out if you've got a problem like mine and what you can do about it.
What's a spam blog (splog)?
Spam blogs, sometimes referred to by the neologism splogs, are artificially created weblog sites which the author uses to promote affiliated websites or to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites. The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed. Spam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either Inauthentic Text or merely stolen from other websites. These blogs usually contain an high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites. (Wikipedia)What sort of fraud or theft is it?
Content from my website/blogs is stolen (scraped) and reposted on a splog which hosts Google Ad-Sense adverts.
- It's fraud because income generated for the host spam blog is generated by content devised by and stolen from other legitimate blogs (likes yours and mine).
- It's fraud because all clicks on an advert on a spam blog are charged to the advertiser. The advertiser's name is also being linked to fraudulent activity.
- it's theft because Google is involved in publishing stolen copyright material by continuing to index the website in its search engine after it has been notified about it.
I have various phrases associated with my website/blogs set up on Google Alerts [http://www.google.com/alerts] - not to be confused with www.googlealert.com which is nothing to do with Google. Guess who got stitched up on that domain name!
Every time the phrase is used in something indexed by Google I get an e-mail alert. The number of alerts I've had in the last 24 hours which are actually associated with spam blogs is getting quite ridiculous - hence this post.
I very much recommend that you also set up Google alerts for your blog's name and any similar 'phrases' to see if your content is also being scraped.
How did I report the theft and the abuse?
What I did was I found the website for reporting abuse of abuse of Google Ad-Sense, located the e-mail address and reported the abuse. The e-mail address is " firstname.lastname@example.org ". (They call it a 'policy violation'. I call if theft.)
You should report:
- the names/URLs/posts of websites/blog sites from which content is being scraped
- if your content is copyright protected and whether there is a notice to this effect on site
- your concern that income is being generated for thieves committing fraud through the use of Google Ad-Sense adverts on the offending site
We've received your email alerting us to a potential policy violation on a site displaying Google ads. Although we're unable to respond to individual reports, we have forwarded your email to our team of specialists for further investigation.Dissatisfied with this initial response to a statement of their involvement in a theft of copyrighted material, I wrote again and indicated I was about to start blogging about it and got this (automated?) response
We appreciate your help in maintaining the quality of the AdSense program.
The Google AdSense Team
Hello Katherine,I've reported a number of further breaches in the last 12 hours and am back to the original automated response.
Thanks for writing in. I understand your concern about your content being re-posted on other sites. Upon investigation of the sites you've listed, it appears that the blogs in question have been since been suspended.
Please know that publishers participating in AdSense may not display Google ads on web pages with content protected by copyright law unless they have the necessary legal rights to display that content. Should you find that your content is being replicated on other sites, rest assured that we will take action as necessary to address the issue.
We appreciate your patience and understanding.
The Google AdSense Team
Why is it a problem?
The problem exists because Google has created opportunities for it the problem exist and is not doing enough to close down those who operate in this way. This is not a new problem. I did a little bit of investigation and found more than a few articles about it. Here are links to a couple.
- Rich Miller at Netcraft (a reputable security oriented internet company):
- Yahoo News: Study exposes Spam Blogs - reporting on a joint Microsoft/University of California study
Often, legitimate companies have their advertisements served on questionable sites through redirections designed to "obfuscate the connection between the advertisers and the spammers," the researchers wrote.........If those links are clicked, the doorway pages then redirect to other pages, potentially bringing revenue back to its controller via pay-per-click advertising offered by companies such as Google Inc. through its AdSense program.and
How to get Google to do something?
A responsibility also lies with advertisers to assert greater control over where and how their ads are placed.
"Ultimately, it is advertisers' money that is funding the search spam industry, which is increasingly cluttering the Web with low-quality content and reducing Web users' productivity," they wrote.
So long as Google's search engine continues to index spam blogs and Google Ad-Sense continues to serve up adverts to spam blogs then:
- blogs like mine - and yours - will continue to be scraped of content
- copyright breaches will continue
- income generated as a result will mean that content authors are being defrauded
- people advertising using Google Ad-Sense will be defrauded.
So I've decided to start listing all the advertisers appearing on the same page of the spam blogs hosting my stolen content. This at least would alert advertisers to where their adverts were being placed.
Some of the advertisers are small operations - some are individual artists - and some are major companies - including Microsoft! All are potentially being defrauded by the sites hosting my stolen copyrighted content. None appear to be exerting sufficient control over where their adverts appear and all need to check what sort of site their adverts are appearing on.
- www.nostalgicpen.com - an artist's pen and ink artwork
- www.turnercreative.co.uk - an architectural illustrator
- uk.shopping.com - buying pencils
- www.drawnbymike.com - on the spot caricature
- www.mrpen.co.uk - quality pens
- www.NailDesignEuroDiscount.com - nail art pen
- microsoft.com.sharepoint - free trials of Microsoft sharepoint 2007 software
- elite-supplements.co.uk - anabolic steroids book
- www.bug.co.uk - training
- www.investmentu.com - stock reports
- www.newmexicoindianmarket.com - Indian blankets
- www.clubmed.co.uk - holidays
- www.langdale.co.uk/easter - holidays
- www.monaco2007.com - Holiday apartments
- www.directrelief.org - Gulf hurricane relief (charity?)
If you are an artist paying for Ad-Sense to advertise your art - you might want to pause and think about the wisdom of your investment. Your adverts might be turning up on spam blogs and getting listed on blog posts like this.....................
- Google Ad-Sense - don't sign up before you have checked out the search engines for reviews of abuses of Ad-Sense
- Google Ad-Sense Abuse - write to email@example.com
- Google Alerts (beta)