Stealing Web Site Content

By Deane Barker on September 26, 2003

Stealing My Content… Again: Shirley’s got a problem with a certain Web site.

“One of the things that hits me the wrong way is to continue to find people blatantly stealing website designs, content, and anything else. Many of us have had our hard work and efforts stolen, unfortunately. …

If you check out their Design Tips section, you’ll see the direct rip-off of my Resources Around the Web Table of Contents page. From there they’ve continued on, stealing ALL of my hard work from numerous WebsiteTips.com pages…

I usually contact the website’s webhost who could remove the content and website from the server upon proof of the theft, but the site that stole mine is a webhosting service. I’ll be contacting my attorney Monday if it’s not removed, though.”

Where do you draw the line here? What is the point where using something as a reference turns into theft? And what intellectural property rights do you own to a set of links? I think it’s clear here that this site sucks mightily for doing what they did, but at what point is it acceptable, and at what point is not?

I re-post all sorts of things here that I find from various blogs (Shirley’s being one of them), but I try to give attirbution. I covered that issue in a previous post which is worth re-reading in light of this issue.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. Hi, Thanks for the comments.

    Regarding stealing content vs. attributing someone’s work in a weblog, there are two different things going on here. From all I’ve seen at your weblog you’re quoting people with a paragraph or two, giving proper credit, and you’re doing the right thing with linking to the sites and also doing trackbacks. That’s perfectly acceptable… and that’s what we learn in school about quoting someone.

    On the other hand, the website I mention who stole my work is blatant theft. They’ve taken page after page of my WebsiteTips.com website, at least 12 or more pages with around 2,400 annotated resources and copy/pasted it into their own ugly Frontpage templates and they’re passing it off as their own content. They didn’t ask me (I would NOT have granted permission for something like that anyway!), they removed my copyright information, they didn’t credit my work, nothing. They also stole images right along with it that they’re using at their site as well, including a “Top” graphic link, a color palettes graphic from my Color section, and more. Even my behind-the-scenes HTML comments are still in there, among other things.

    I haven’t mentioned this at my weblog yet, but they responded to my request last night to remove all my stolen content from their website. Their attitude is horrible, and at least the person who wrote me back trivialized it all and outright denied they stole anything from me since “these are just resource links to other sites.” I responded back to this person: “Then you need to take a closer look. Images, content, and HTML from numerous pages from my websitetips.com site have been stolen and dropped into designs at your website. Someone cloaked the content to look a little different but it’s all there word-for-word, including all my behind-the-scenes comments and notes, my custom-created images, and all the HTML. I’ve spent over 6 years researching the 2,400 carefully selected and researched annotated resources at WebsiteTips.com.”

    Then the person wrote that their webmaster put up the content for their site visitors, and he/she then offered to provide a credit link.

    I couldn’t even believe it, and I once again insisted that my stolen content, images, and HTML be immediately removed from their website. We’ll see what happens from here. If they don’t immediately remove it I’ll be taking action against them… but I also hope I don’t have to go that far. I won’t hesitate to do so if I have to, though.

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