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Plagiarism is Theft

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I am amazed that I have to write this post but I do have to write it. Plagiarism is when you copy something someone else wrote and use it as your own content without the authors permission. Last night I had some fun with someone who was taking my content via feed and using it for a splog. He is no longer taking my content but continues to take content from all over the country and acts surprised and offended when the owners of the content ask him to stop. It is just an act, he knows that what he is doing.

When I discovered that his blog had several of my photos on it I uploaded some new pictures and gave them the same name as the files he was linking to. The pictures remain in place on my blog because I renamed those files and uploaded them again. The screen print below shows the graphic that was displayed on his splog in place of one of my photos. Easy to do and this one is rather mild compared to some of the others that I uploaded. A great way to have a good time and to make a thief’s blog look bad.

Even though my content is no longer being taken it has been taken before and will be taken again. I guess my anger at this thief is in part because of the photos. They are mine and I admit I almost feel violated when someone takes them.

The thief is still taking content and he will continue to do so and he is a Realtor. He says he is not doing anything wrong and that he is helping us by promoting our blogs.

Some of the people he is stealing from don’t even understand that they are being harmed. He sent me an email saying that he was surprised that I did not want my blog promoted and I could get an extra 20 visits a month through his splog. For one thing I am not going to notice 20 new visits a month, or even an hour for that matter. I never asked for his help and don’t need it and I don’t like seeing my content on a splog. The way he was displaying the content no one would need to visit my blog to read it because he had it all on his splog. The way the link to my blog was displayed most readers would not notice it and would assume the splogger was the author of the content.

People who have splogs and who steal content often use the excuse that they were just trying to help promote the blog that they were stealing from. It is like they all read the same book and say the same things. I think they go to school somewhere to learn how to steal content. Please do not fall for this line of crap. Your content does the most good on your own blog. Yes blogs can be syndicated. St. Paul Real Estate is picked up by some local blogs with my permission. They receive a mini feed via RSS and get an excerpt from my posts and have a link back to my blog. My photos are never included in these feeds.

The Realtor with the splog is using it for lead generation and for selling ads. The content he is stealing is being used for commercial purposes.

I spend a fair amount of time dealing with plagiarism. I start with a cease and desist letter and then I escalate until I get the job done. Sometimes I change a few graphics too. I don’t sit and wait to see what will happen, and I don’t tolerate plagiarism, and you shouldn’t either.

Here is a link to some information on how to stop plagiarism and what it is. Here is a link to some copyright myths. On the Internet content is king. Please do not allow others to steal your content.

*I know my blog isn’t the best in the US but figured I could get in a little advertising 

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Steven

    December 11, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    It saddens me to have to read this. I am pleased that you care enough to share this important information like this. Everyone should know their rights. Thanks for the great links.

    I love your new pictures. “best” is up for debate “Excellent” is for sure.

  2. Shailesh Ghimire

    December 11, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Teresa,

    This is a huge problem these days. There are at least half a dozen blogs that steal my blog content on a regular basis. The first time I discovered it I was peeved. I wrote letters and contacted the host. But to no avail. They sent me huge documents I had to fill out to file a complaint under the DMCA ( Digital Millennium Copyright Act (of 1998).

    I knw Jay Thompson had success with one. Here is his post: https://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/content-thieving-splog-is-offline/399

    However, the problem is so pervasive and widespread it’s hard for the little guy to fight this thing. I think Benn said it best in one of his posts. Allowing the blogger to reject a subscriber. Until then I don’t have the time to go after these guys.

  3. Todd Carpenter

    December 12, 2007 at 1:06 am

    Shailesh, when blog hosts send me DMCA paperwork, I simply respond that IF I have to fill out a bunch of legal forms, I will need to consult a lawyer, and at that point, I will consider filing a lawsuit against you.

    I always contact the web host. They are the ones who are actually breaking the law. They know they are liable. The sploggers know what they are doing. The web hosts know what a splog is. Threatening action against the host is usually all it takes.

  4. Denver Mortgage

    December 12, 2007 at 8:31 am

    Copyscape provides a free plagiarism checking service. You just type in your url.

    https://www.copyscape.com/

  5. Robert D. Ashby

    December 12, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I have not caught my blog being plagiarized yet, but my main web site has pages have been plagiarized as has my domain name. I am working with lawyers on some of the cases right now.

    I also agree with Todd in that you can notify the host and they will remove the site quickly as they know they can be held liable for maintaing the site.

  6. Teresa Boardman

    December 12, 2007 at 9:19 am

    I am getting pretty good at handling it. I have also gotten web sites shut down by contacting the hosting company. I had one web site thrown out of the technorati directory and another is no longer able to use a google ad sense account becasue of me. I am just so tired of this all and concerned that there are many in the real estate community that don’t understand how plagiarism hurts them or even what it is.

    It is hard for the little guy to fight becasue she is trying to run a business and does not have time to chase cyber thieves all day. 🙂 heck I’m only five feet tall and I just can’t do it all. 🙂

  7. John Harper

    December 12, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Love the way you fought back with the pictures. Google is the one that should have a streamlined program in place to weed out the bad guys.

    The could have a flagging system like Craiglist that triggers human review once a site is flagged so many times. If many of the violating sites are coming from the same ISP, Google could bas all content from those servers. Things would change in a hurry.

  8. Teresa Boardman

    December 12, 2007 at 9:43 am

    John – one this that would be very useful is an enhancement to feedburner. I can see who is taking my content by looking at “uncommon uses” if they made it so I could disconnect people it would be harder for them to grab my content via RSS as they so often do.

    As for how I handled it, I blew off a lot of anger on one person because he was so easy to find.

  9. Ryan Hukill

    December 12, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Teresa, as much as I HATE plagiarism, I LOVE what you did with the photos. That has to be the funniest thing I’ve read this week! Great job girl!

  10. Teresa Boardman

    December 12, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    thanks Ryan, I live to amuse. 🙂

  11. fak3r

    January 2, 2009 at 9:56 am

    This is fun stuff, I too have found this numerous times, more often than not my images are hot linked to MySpace pages. What I’ve done is played with some mod_rewrite rules so that the images display properly on my site, but if the requesting server isn’t my server it serves up a different image (still the same name though), so it’s the best of both worlds.

    Ideally I’d have this set site wide so *any* hot linkers would get some graphic with a link to my site, a tasteless picture, or some political commentary. A simple WordPress plugin that would do the rewriting on the fly according to the referrer would be great. I do like your example above though, help to educate others while promoting your original content. Well done!

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Opinion Editorials

Our five faves for Friday – almost Thanksgiving edition

(EDITORIAL) This week, I have so many faves that I can barely keep it at just five – Unicorns, gophers, tears, science nerdery, and rebellions, oh my!

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I heard a rumor that it’s Friday again, so today we share with you five of the neato-est things that we came across this week – some silly, some serious, all awesome.

1. Brands refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day

It started with retailers opening early on Black Friday, then opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and now retailers are expected to force their staff to work instead of enjoy a bajillion-ish year old American tradition.

But some companies are pushing back, publicly refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day, so even though our home doesn’t care about Black Friday, we’ll be giving some business to those taking a stand.

2. I need you to know about my favorite tv show ever

So there’s nothing new about this, but since you’ve never heard from ME on a Friday Faves roundup, I really need you to know something about me – I have a lot of natural curiosities and history (when not told in a dusty way) fascinates the hell out of me.

Unearthed on the Science Channel is friggen amazing and literally EVERY episode has taught me something that I didn’t know before (like the one about Stonehenge included new discoveries that change how we think about how humans used to operate – seriously mindblowing stuff). All of the episodes are available online, yo, so get to nerding!

3. No one has bought me a Pony Cycle yet

One of the only email newsletters I actually open is The Grommet – they feature independent makers’ inventions and wares, and I’m all about supporting the little guy.

But I posted this insanely amazing Pony Cycle on my Facebook timeline this week with a request that someone buy me one. Guess what? No takers. My friends are monsters. I mean it comes in horse, unicorn (dibs), and zebra, why not buy me one or three?

ponycycle

4. Video that made me cry

After the recent earthquake hit Iran, there has been a deep need for food for the victims. Watch this video (my fave part is the pat pat on the back) and try to tell me that hate isn’t something we’re taught… also, I’m not crying, you are…

5. My favorite gif of this week

If you know me, you know I love gifs more than the average person. So when I came across this one, I knew I had to award it my fave of the week…

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Opinion Editorials

Is your job inadvertently harming your health?

(EDITORIAL) We often get so consumed with our work that we unknowingly hurt ourselves in the process. Learn how to keep this from happening.

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health at work

With the changes in seasons, we tend to put more of an emphasis on our health. This makes sense as flus and colds have a tendency to run rampant around the holidays.

However, we should be more mindful of keeping track of our health throughout the year. And, given that our jobs are such a large part of our lives, it is important to keep in mind that our jobs can have an affect on our health. Which can often be a bad thing.

For most of us, we are in the same space for eight hours of our day. Sometimes we think that just because it’s ourselves occupying that space, things can’t really get germy. Well, think again.

We have so many things that we touch on a daily basis – our keyboard, mouse, phone, ID badge, etc. These have a tendency to become a house for germs, which can hurt us as time goes on.

Combat this by setting aside some time each week to disinfect all of your most-used items. Also, consider keeping some hand sanitizer at your desk.

Getting up to clean around your office can help take care of another issue – being too sedentary throughout the day. Sometimes we get so consumed with plugging away at our computers that we forget to get up and stretch.

This can be harmful to your weight and your circulation. Keep the blood flowing by getting up and moving a bit every hour or so.

The mindfulness of your health should not stop at the physical, but should also involve keeping an eye on mental health. Your job plays a big part in this as well.

First of all, you start and end your day with a commute. For some, this can be incredibly strenuous – expensive, traffic-filled, etc.

This has been known to lead to depression. Try filling this time with positivity and fulfillment by listening to a quality podcast or an audio book. This will help to give meaning to otherwise wasted time.

The most important thing to monitor with your mental health is making sure to not overwork yourself. It can be difficult to find that perfect work/life balance, but it’s necessary for a happy and healthy life.

Try staying away from work emails and texts after a certain time of the day on weekdays or on the weekends. Think about it this way – you’re not supposed to tend to your personal business during work hours, so why let work interfere with your personal time?

All of this can be helped by checking in with yourself every once in a while, or even by using the buddy system and discussing the topic with a work friend.

Lastly, be sure to check with your company to learn about health and wellness programs that may be offered.

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Opinion Editorials

Do literally anything with your money besides buy an iPhone X

(EDITORIAL) The iPhone X is pretty snazzy, but let me express why your money belongs literally anywhere besides in Apple’s pocket for this phone.

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iphone x

The iPhone X is off to a rocky start, beginning with the fact that no one seems to know whether it’s supposed to be pronounced “iPhone Ten” or “iPhone Ex” and working up from there.

If you’re here, you probably don’t need me to tell you that a 5.8-inch OLED screen, facial recognition, 4K recording at 60 FPS, and an all-glass design are superfluous as hell — but just in the off-chance that I’m wrong, THE IPHONE X IS SUPERFLUOUS AS HELL.

Take literally 30 seconds to think about all of the mega-cool features that convinced you to buy your last smartphone, then think of the last time you used even half of those features without feeling compelled to do so. If you’re one of those people who uses all of the filters on the camera every day, fine, but I’m willing to bet that you just use your phone for Facebook, texting, and calling your grandma.

You don’t need a 5.8-inch, all-glass, basically-a-tablet-of-a-phone to do those things, but if money doesn’t mean anything to you, be my guest.

It’s also worth noting that there is a certain point at which “really fast” and “really, really fast” feel identical to one another. My personal experience with this phenomenon was with the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8; it doesn’t matter how fast your newest processor is if the last one was fast enough.

Apple has a long history of publicly executing things that people are still using. While it’s hard to be too mad about the headphone jack, they hit a soft spot when they nixed ethernet ports—and, more recently, USB 3.0 ports—and the most recent dissident to fall victim to Apple’s indiscriminate chopping block is the Home button.

Yeah, that thing that make the iPhone usable in the first place? Not there anymore. Worse still, the simple display is now flooded with different shortcut hotspots. For example, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center — no, wait, that’s how you get home. You swipe from the top-right corner of the screen to open the Control Center, while the top-left corner opens the notifications screen that — hey, are you writing this down?

To make matters worse, Apple added a bunch of different contextual shortcuts to the physical buttons on the sides of the iPhone X, further reducing accessibility. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Is the iPhone X necessary? Absolutely not. Is it neato? Sure.

But is it worth your time if you’ve got dollar bills to blow? Again, absolutely not — do literally anything else with that money, up to and including burning it. As long as Apple continues to ignore the issues that plague their devices in favor of broken facial recognition and 3D emoji animation, consider spending your money elsewhere.

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