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Stolen Content Investigation - Findings and Questions

  1. Doc Wordinger profile image94
    Doc Wordingerposted 2 years ago

    After more than a year without publishing any hubs, I've decide to start publishing again. First two items on the agenda involved finishing an unpublished hub and responding to comments. Then I decided to investigate whether any of my hubs have been plagiarized and copied elsewhere during my absence. Unfortunately they have. The only saving grace in this exercise was that I've never been a prolific publisher and only had to work my way through 22 hubs. I copied and pasted three extracts from each of my hubs (opening sentence, another sentence a third of the way into the hub and a final sentence two-thirds in) and ran an exact search in Google.

    For anyone interested, here is a summary of my findings:

    - One hub has found its way onto an site selling essays. The hub is described as 'premium' so presumably potential customers have to pay to access the whole thing.

    - One of my health-related hubs had been copied and pasted onto a health website as a response to a question posed by a visitor. The person posting the response described himself as a doctor. I've yet to look into whether he is a real doctor although I assume he isn't.

    - One hub has been published on a professional looking 'lifestyle' site for men. It has been taken word for word including the photographs (as this was a biographic hub about famous people I'd relied on public domain photos from Wikimedia Commons). The thief has kept the source information but the links back to WC do not work. Interestingly, when you try to see the results of the poll at the bottom of the article, it links right back to my original article on hubpages. Gee, thanks for the backlink.

    - One hub has been pasted word for word on a blog (minus the photos). The thief has even given himself a byline.

    - The opening paragraph of one hub has been lifted and pasted as a product description on a shopping website. Needless to say, the site looks dodgy.

    - One hub was pasted in full on a Facebook wall for a hobby-related profile. Hopefully it won't be too hard to get this one removed by FB. There haven't been any status updates on this profile in over a year.

    - Single paragraphs copied from numerous hubs and used as posts in forums and blogs. I'm no internet expert but I imagine that a computer program has extracted these paragraphs to give the impression that these junk sites are content rich. Reading these bot-posts, it is clear that each paragraph has been lifted from a random article so the overall content makes no sense whatsoever. Since only paragraphs were stolen rather than full articles, I'm not even going to bother going after these sites.

    I though it might be helpful to post these findings here so other novices like myself know what to look for when conducting their own investigations into stolen content.

    This post is getting quite long but I have a few questions for experienced hubbers. Thank you to anyone who responds (or indeed, has read this far).

    - With the exception of my own photographs, none of my hubs contain a copyright notice. Does this have any implications for my status as copyright holder? Does the law require a copyright notice in order to protect the article?

    - How does one prove the publication date of a hub to another party? Obviously the 'my account' area on Hubpages gives a publication date for each hub but this information is only accessible to the account holder. I know there is a 'last updated' note at the bottom of each hub but this date can be different from the publication date if a hub has been updated or corrected.

    - If a hub is copied in several places across the internet, will this have a hugely negative impact on traffic volumes, even though the search engines crawled the original hub first?

    Thanks again for any answers/feedback.

    1. graveyard-rose profile image69
      graveyard-roseposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      You can contact the site and tell scream copywrite.. They should take them down. I am under the impression that as soon as a hub is published it is copywritten, I may be wrong. I am interested in hearing the answer myself. WHen ppl do this it will hurt our post, so I think I am going through my hubs today too. Good idea!!!!

    2. zsobig profile image91
      zsobigposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Once you publish a hub here, it is Copyright protected, period - as far as I know. Additionally, to show this to everyone, you can put a HP-generated Copyright-sign at the end of your hub in the Edit/Display option (right side of your screen, select from the little drop-down). I even add another, own Copyright notice at the end of each of my hub, just in case. Still, don't even think this is enough. Some bastards simply copy+paste my whole Copyrighted message into the stolen article as well...

      All in all, I can say I have very-very similar experiences with my stolen hubs, like you do now.
      Several of my hubs were stolen, some findings:
      -One, seemingly trustful Health-page copied my whole article about lemons and their benefits. Tons of comments below it, answers from professionals (?!), everything you can expect. I've contacted them, wrote that I never gave permission to use my article on their sites in any way, moreover, not 'selling it' as their own research. After 2 days I got a message full of smileys (!) with a notice that the article was taken down. No sorry, nothing... but at least I guess I should be happy it was taken down.
      -Two of my articles got entirely into presentations on health and gadget topics. And were uploaded for a site offering these presentations as teaching materials, to be downloaded freely (I'm not 100% sure that it was free, but obviously I did not register on the site). Anyway, managed to get them down.
      -One of my article about relationships got onto a bisexual partner-searching site... ugh... not the best ad for me. Even my Copyright notice and my full name is on the end of it... wrote several messages to the owner and to the host as well, no answer. I basically gave up. I don't have the stomach to visit that site again to look for a possible way to get it down.
      -3 of my other relationship-related articles were partially copied to a Facebook-page (dating blog in fact). Needless to say, only the first and the last part of these articles were left out, the 'main' content, so 80 of the 108 facts are still on that page. Contacted FB about it, 2 days later they wrote me back they don't know what was copied from my article, they didn't find anything that is against Copyright rules (wtf?). Wrote them again, no answer still... this was 5 days ago. (So good luck with FB, I thought they will be the easiest of all to contact and prove what is mine, but no-no.)
      -One article copied to Google groups (!). No news about getting it down.
      -One article copied to Yahoo answers (!). No news either.
      -One article completely copied into some kind of teaching material, still entirely downloadable from the site. No luck.
      -At least 5 articles in different Wordpress/Blogger articles.... managed to remove most of them.
      -One travel-related article (10 best places to visit) entirely copied to some kind of travel-blog. Each picture was stolen as well and posted in the post also. Comments, gratulating people, nice to read it... as far as I know it is still up and running, as the host did not find (!) the article I was talking about, even if I contained direct links in my infringement notice.

      So basically I am sick and very tired. Dunno what more can I do. Maybe only hoping...
      Sorry it became soooo long.

  2. Kathleen Odenthal profile image94
    Kathleen Odenthalposted 2 years ago

    geez, thats awful! i hope it doesnt deter you from writing more. unfortunately there will always be those people out there looking for an easier way, be it an illegal way. i would report the stolen content, then start writing again. don't let the thieves get the best of you!

  3. Doc Wordinger profile image94
    Doc Wordingerposted 2 years ago

    I've lodged a complaint with Facebook and I'm waiting to find out what they have to say. The Facebook profile in question has long since been abandoned so there was no point in messaging the perpetrator directly.

    The owner of the professional looking website emailed me back within ten minutes to apologize and inform me that he has taken the article down. He also stated that it wasn't an intentional infringement because he had linked back to me at the bottom of the article. The link was actually hidden (you had to click on the poll at the very end to be directed back to Hubpages) but even so, I think taking a 2000 word article word for word is copyright infringement whether there is a backlink or not.

    Thanks for your post zsobig - there's a lot to think about there. Good luck and don't give up.

    Kathleen - I won't quit. I'll try my best to get the stolen content removed then focus on publishing more hubs!

    Graveyard-Rose - Good luck with your investigation. Hopefully it won't turn up much stolen content (or even better - none at all).

  4. humahistory profile image85
    humahistoryposted 2 years ago

    As soon as posted it is copyright.
    If whole articles are copied unedited then why not take advantage and add in some links to original and your profile page, such as:
    original article at [URL of article], by [profile page URL]
    add copyright notice at top
    add HP copyright notice at bottom
    add other associated links to your work throughout article.

    1. Tolovaj profile image82
      Tolovajposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      This is one of newest SEO techniques (o.k., couple of years old). It's a bit grayish because you still have a problem with duplicated content. And if the stolen content is published on authoritative site, it can beat your article, so you could pan out as the one who have stolen it. It happened to me (and yes, they even spent some time to remove links, so they published only content (enriched by the ads making money for the bad guys).

  5. Author Cheryl profile image86
    Author Cherylposted 2 years ago

    The only problem with plagiarism is it is not punishable by law.  You can email them and tell them you are the original author of this work and ask them to take it down, but in all reality many people even college students plagiarize work and unless you are willing to fork out a lot of money to an attorney, there isn't much you can do about it.  If they copied your work and posted the links where they got it from, then they are giving you credit for the work.  If the other websites are posting all of it with no credit to the writer then you can ask them to either give you credit or to have it removed.  Facebook will probably do nothing because they won't even remove horrible pictures that people post and you have to read their violations rules to see if it fits their categories.   I had someone that was cyber stalking me and following me to every site that I write for, when she signed up for hub pages under my amazon name I sent a notice to hubpages that this person was stalking me and since she was only following me then it was taken seriously and she was banned from the site.  I hope this helps.  We all hate to see our work reproduced but I don't mind if they give me the credit for it.

    1. Marisa Wright profile image92
      Marisa Wrightposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      It is possible to punish the thief, though.   If they have an Adsense account you can report them to Adsense, which may result in them losing their Adsense account.  It's very difficult to get a new Adsense account if you've been banned, so that will severely damage their online ambitions.  Also you can report them to the company that hosts their website, and get the site closed down.   True, the thief can simply sign up with a new host and restart, but if authors are vigiliant and hunt them from host to host, it will make life very inconvenient for them!

      1. graveyard-rose profile image69
        graveyard-roseposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Great info!

      2. Tolovaj profile image82
        Tolovajposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        You are right, the best thing is to take action where it hurts the most!

  6. kevinfream profile image84
    kevinfreamposted 2 years ago

    Doc - There's been a lot of good input. Setup authorship for Hubpages on Google Plus to also designate original source.