How not to steal blog content: a case study

This is about how not to steal blog content

As you may or may not know, I have a blog called Tee Reviewer. It is a t-shirt news and review blog. Recently I posted a list of the 21 most important t-shirt blogs of 2011. (Please check it out.) I follow most, if not all of the blogs listed and the list took me a while to compile and arrange. And as you can see (if you check it out) I also wrote a comment about each blog. If you are a blogger, I’m sure you understand that making a list post like this is time-consuming and simply hard work. It was a good post and when I completed it I spent some time promoting it as well. So why am I writing a post about how not to steal blog content?

Today I found that another blogger basically copied nearly all the content from one of my posts and posted it on his own blog. Of course I am not too happy about that. The post that took me hours to write and promote is being used on someone else’s site and it probably just took them two minutes to steal it and post it. It is definitely a good example of how not to steal blog content.

This was orignially posted on teereviewer.com, you can find the original post here. I have a giant list of blogs listed on my site but haven’t made any updates in a while.

He did give me credit though (see above quote) so that’s something. But it’s not totally clear that he didn’t write the post originally on Tee Reviewer (my site) first and then re-post it on his own site. I’ll give him the benefit of doubt here though and assume that it was not his intention to obfuscate. Put aside his intentions though and let’s just look at how it appears. Below is screenshot of his introduction text. (I added the highlighting.)

Two line introduction - an example of how not to steal blog content
Only two lines of original content

So, the first two sentences are his introduction, basically the next hardest part of creating the post after copying and pasting the content from my site. The second line of the first paragraph (his content) says:

I have a giant list of blogs listed on my site but haven’t made any updates in a while.

and the first line of the next paragraph (my content) says:

Of course you probably want to know how I created this list of the 20 most important t-shirt blogs.

I think most people would think that the “I” in both of these articles are one and the same, the author of the article. Especially as people mostly scan internet articles. As I have decided to give him the benefit of the doubt in this case I’ll say that it is laziness rather than deviousness that makes this look like his own original content rather than what it actually is, stolen content.

Lazy Thief

Of course I have a few things to back up the idea that this is the work of a lazy thief. Not just the accidental(?) obfuscation above that makes people believe he has produced original content.

  1. He wrote only two short sentences of original text.
  2. In those two sentences there was a spelling mistake.
  3. In the image above, I highlighted two pieces of text. One of them says 20 most important t-shirt blogs and the other says 21 blogs. In the original Tee Reviewer post there were 21 blogs in the list. But this blogger changed the list to 20. But the thief was too lazy to change the one other piece of text from 21 to 20. Or perhaps he didn’t even read it.
  4.  He copy and pasted my article.
  5. He is hotlinking my images rather than downloading them and uploading to his own server.
  6. He didn’t bother to remove unrelated content from the article. (See image below.)
  7. He has his own list but didn’t bother to edit it, instead he just steals mine.
Stolen content - more laziness
Content unrelated to the list

Evil Thief

I know I said I’d give him the benefit of the doubt but let’s for a moment imagine that he is not a lazy idiot and that he intentionally stole my content and tried to pass it off as his own. There is some evidence that this may be the case and let me lay it out for you:

  1. He changed the title of the post and the number of blogs in the list.
  2. His introduction, while including a link to my original post, is written in a way that allows others to think that he compiled this list and that the opinions in it are his.
  3. There were originally 21 blogs.The blog that was removed from the list was my blog, Tee Reviewer, which ironically was where the article was originally published.
  4. He is hotlinking my images for his post and using my bandwidth.
  5. He removed two links at the bottom to two of my other websites.
  6. I linked to his website and he steals my content. (Biting the hand that feeds it?)

How I am dealing with the content thief

  • The first step I took was sending him an email requesting that he reduce it to just an excerpt (if he wouldn’t mind).
  • Then I commented on the post saying that I had sent an email, to please check his spam folder if he hasn’t received the email.
  • After looking at the post some more I emailed him at another address with more details about how I’d like the post to be: maximum 3 of the list with a link at the bottom and the top of the post to the original post, and to make it clearer that it was not his content.

It’s not all bad.

After all that I say it’s not all bad? Yes, it’s true. I don’t know how many hits his blog gets but it gets some and some of the people who see this new post may even click through to the original (if they notice the link). Also his blog has a PR4 and my blog has yet to get a PR since switching domains a few weeks back. So I may even get some Google juice from this.

How to steal blog content

So far this post has been about how not to steal blog content but there are ways to use other people’s content on your website without being seen as an asshole. Every blogger has a different opinion but here is my advice for people who want to continue using other people’s content without being the subject of  a how not to steal blog content post like this one.

  1. Contact the original author and ask them. (Simple. OK, it’s not really stealing if you get permission but no one likes a thief.)

It’s a very short list but that’s it really. Some authors are fine with it, some have conditions and some just don’t allow it but at least you know you did the right thing.

Who is this thief?

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned any names or provided any links to this blog post. I may at a later point but probably not. I hope he will understand my point of view and do the right thing. I think with a little detective work it can easily be worked out though.

He is a blogger and t-shirt shop owner so I think he should understand what he has done is wrong. I don’t think he would be too happy if I copied one of his articles and tried to pass it off as my own or if I used one of his t-shirt designs, altered it slightly and sold it in my store. Even if I gave him credit.

Follow up – what’s next?

Update: the stolen content has been removed from his site. He apologized but only after I asked. See his response below.

Well, it’s been over 16 hours since I contacted him first but it’s the weekend. I’ll give it a bit more time before I do anything else but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Hopefully though I won’t do anything too mean. I’ll let you know how it goes.

3 Comments

  1. Maybe you should write an article about how being nice and upfront to the person you are angry with instead of talking behind their back will get you a lot further.

    Yes I took your information. I never claimed the information was mine and put “guest” as the author. Was I lazy, Yes!

    Instead of spending this time to write about how angry you are and why I am and Evil Thief you could have come across a little nicer and gotten a lot more out of this. I get 40,000 visits a month to my site and I’ve got a page rank of 4. I could have helped your site out with traffic and your page rank but instead you burned bridges.

    By the way go ahead and post my articles in their entirety with a link to my blog. The more people read my articles and the more links to my website the better. You can even say you wrote the articles to just make sure to link back to my site.

    1. Notice I didn’t mention your name. I find it interesting that you spend more time writing text for this comment than you did for the article you stole from my site. I think the article is why you are a lazy thief rather than an evil thief but you probably didn’t read this article very well either.
      If I was nicer? Really. I sent two emails, the first asking you to reduce it to an excerpt (if you wouldn’t mind) and the second with some conditions. You just removed the article. I guess you were too lazy to edit it down. If I burned bridges to a content thief I am glad and as for using your content, it’s a nice offer, but I think I will stick with original content. It’s honest. And I’m not sure you have any original content on your site anyway.
      And throughout all of this I didn’t get angry.

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