This post is going to be a little out of the ordinary for me. About a week ago, my rosy little blogger world got a swift kick in the pants--a reality check, a shock to the system! I found out I was an internet victim and thankfully I have friends who cared enough to inform me and help me. My good friend, Amy Corron Power, co-author (along with her husband Joe) of one of my favorite wine blogs, "Another Wine Blog" and an attorney in Houston, posted a blog story about people who steal other people's blog content for profit. She was nice enough to mention that in her quest to uncover her stolen blog content, she also found some of mine. There were several of us who had our content scraped and/or autoblogged on to a "fake" wine blog site created for profit by someone else.
Autoblogged. Stolen. Scraped. I was livid! The more I searched, the more I discovered. Every blog post I had authored between the beginning of March and the end of August--27 posts to be exact, showed up on this site. It wouldn't have been so bad if they'd have given me some credit. This would have been the proper thing to do. (I have a disclaimer stating that yes, you can use my content, but you have to notify me in writing. Not difficult or demanding. You just send me an e-mail and I respond. It's that simple!) Each post stated it was written by Grace. That's it--no last name, no link back to my original site, no other information. It appeared as if I (or anyone named Grace) had written each story specifically for them. And to add to my frustration--each one of my posts had a plethora of Google Adsense ads attached to it. These idiots were making money off of me! No, I was the idiot. At least I felt like it for not noticing sooner! (FYI, I personally do not have any Google Adsense ads on my blog site.)
Now, I'm not a technical person and I'm not exactly understanding how these people managed to steal my content. Did they steal it through my RSS feed? Cut and paste? Whatever. I'm learning. And I am fighting back! Thanks to people who care, I received screen shots of my work on their site and Google listings of my work on their site as well. I contacted the culprits personally with a "Cease And Desist" letter. They removed all but one of my posts the same day (that may have been an oversight on their part). They're not out of the woods though. Not by a long shot. I am getting ready to file a DMCA report with Google and have contacted the website's host. DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act--a United States Copyright Law which covers intellectual property in the digital world. I feel mine was violated and there are penalties for infringing on this via the internet. (I have chosen not to list the website in question so to not draw anymore attention to them or their ads. However, if you feel you need to know, please send me a direct message on Facebook or Twitter and I will tell you where to look.)
So what happens now? Well, it's a waiting game. Who knows if this site will ever be shut down, but until it is, I will constantly be monitoring it. I have to. Ultimately, I'd like to see it shut down and I'd like to see Google get their money back from these thieves. I did notice they have added some more unsuspecting folks' stuff to their site. Guess they have to keep making money somehow. I had a chat recently with my best friend/internet guru and she gave me some great ideas. I will probably never be able to fully stop people from ripping me off like that, after all, there's always someone who thinks the internet is a free-for-all. Going forward, however, I will be putting a short bio/disclaimer at the end of every post. Titled, "You Saw It Here First", it will always give me credit for my posts regardless of where they may end up. I apologize for having to be repetitious like that but I have to do it.
Do yourselves a small favor every once in awhile. If you care about your blog and its content, Google yourself. See if anyone is stealing your stuff. Don't let them do that to you. I've learned a lot from this experience. We wine bloggers stick together and we support each other. We're a community of friends and we don't want to see our friends get hurt. I want to thank Amy and all the other friends who came to my aid and helped me last week. My desire to be a great wine blogger is stronger than ever and this is experience is hopefully just a speed bump. Cheers!
"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.