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Friday, September 26, 2008

My encounter with a plagiarizer [aka Fraudster]

Close enough to how I feel

Gentle(wo)men, I have arrived. My blog is on an illustrious path to greatness; a path, aspired by all but tread by  only a miniscule few till now - indulging in an occasional self-delusional reverie is quite pleasant an experience :-).

Net folklore are replete with instance of monsters (leech sites) trying to steal and drink the immortality potion from the honest-to GOD, hardworking farm boy [me, the David-sque Blogger]. Till the farm boy rose up to the tyranny and slayed the monster. Okay, its not all that dramatic, but if I can’t indulge in a bit of hyperbole on my own blog, where can I?

Towards the beginning of this week, I discovered that a website [from now on referred to as a ‘dust-bin’], had been displaying posts from my blog on its site and re-directing it under its own URL (made me feel a little important initially – after all you only copy stuff that you know is good, hence the first few sentences). Anybody clicking on that link would come to my blog, but the address in the address bar would still be shown as that of the dust-bin. To compound to the matter, these re-directed posts made its way into search engine results and many were being displayed even before my own.

my mail to the dustbin owner Even though this blog is not monetized, being at the receiving end of a plagiarism attempt hurts in no small measures. A look at the dust-bin indicated that it had used one of my combined feeds which I had directed through Yahoo! pipes. It included feeds from my Tumblog along with this. Since it was not being used for anything significant, I disabled it so that the dust-bin would get no more fodder from my blog. Being a little pre-occupied with college stuff, only yesterday was I able to send them a mail asking them to remove my blog and all my posts from their dust-bin.

Dust-bin owner replies back, giving excuse Instead of complying with my request, the dust-bin owner tried to justify his fraudulent practice by claiming that it is good for the target blog [my content appears under your URL, no back links for my posts, a Ph.D in Quantum Mechanics needed to figure how to disable the re-directed URL – a lot of good it does to my blog].

My reply to the dust-bin owner So I sent the guy another mail reiterating my stand of getting my blog de-listed from his dust-bin.

Dust-bin owner sends message to his goons Came back home, to receive a BCC of this mail. Felt quite not-so-bad.

Such fraudulent sites exist for one reason only – money. If you have to hit them, hit them where it would hurt them the most – tell them that you are willing to cut off their supply of money. I mentioned contacting his advertisers and informing them, and as a result, got his undivided and immediate attention [a reply from him in just around an hour].

Knowing that his conduct is essentially a criminal offence I mentioned the Information Technology Act 2000 and informed him of my willingness to file a complain. If you are from a different country, then you should explore similar Acts that has been legislated by your country. As an afterthought, I even considered contacting his host and informing them of the kind of site they are hosting. I informed him about this too. Not surprisingly my site was de-listed from the dust-bin.

Since the site is hosted in the United States of America, the option of filing a complain under the DMCA was also available to me, but had no intention of doing so – its the personal blog of your everyday Engineering student after all. But if you have the time, knowledge and resources and have a lot to lose due to plagiarism, then by all means do pursue that course of action.

If you visiting my blog, and reading this, do pay the offending dust-bin a visit and checking if he is stealing backlinks from your site.

Not sure if how helpful I would be, but if you need some help from me regarding this, then feel free to mail me – my email is listed in the About me page [my messed up template is preventing comments from being posted on my blog].