Menoducational - well... more of a widened alert really


PUT THE KETTLE ON... (you have my permission to print this off if you prefer to read it on paper!)

Many of you will know that our Mayor-doods have had their blog posts "scraped" by an unscrupulous unknown-body. There has been  perfectly understandable outrage and horror within our community at this occurrence. The doods have done quite a lot their end to try and remedy the matter and I know that a few others have added their two-bits-worth via the comments or (like me) by email.

There are lots of considerations for all of us who operate on-line and, in the capacity of OoWaC, I would like to address a few things.

The first and key thing, perhaps, would be DON'T PANIC. Keep a cool head. Majority 'scrapers' are just lazy bloggers.  Bad enough but in no way threatening to your computer (or you). A very few (VERY) are using the blagged blog-post as a cover for under-cover activities which shall  not be discussed here. These are mainly (but by no means exclusively) based out of Eastern Bloc and Oriental countries. They still are no threat to any of our blogs as such, but of course if the content they have scraped becomes recognised when someone happens upon the genuine article, then they may have formed a prejudice which is wholly unjustified.

(In case you are concerned from the perspective of security, by all means change all your passwords, do all the 'antiviral and purgey' activities you like and whilst you're at it, a disk cleanup and defrag might as well get done....and when last did you do a backup BTW??? Computers have needs too!)

Generally speaking, this activity is not about 'spamming' or malicious activity. Actually, for the most part, this automated phishing-style practice which appears to be taking place in the current situation is (as far as can be determined) normally carried out on commercial sites. If your content has held anything which can be construed as commercial about it, this may point to why it has been scraped for an otherwise faceless blogpage. At some point there may be activity seeking to gain financial advantage as a result of others' hard work in content preparation.  A kind of industrial espionage if you like!

Each geographical area has copyright laws and to some extent these may vary. Overall though, things are pretty similar wherever you are. On-line, it is possible to put up "CC" signage (like mine on the right bar) or other similar things; but just as there are villains on the street who WILL have your wallet regardless of how hidden it is, so there are word-thieves online.  Image thieves also.

KNOW THIS; everything you produce and publish on line is covered by copyright - whether or not you apply the universal circle 'c' mark. There is a fair use clause so that lots of decent folks like ourselves may utilise interesting content, however there are lots of variations and interpretations of fair use and this falls into legal territory - where I cannot and will not enter!  It is worth looking up your local legislation, but I paste in here from the UK Copyright Service as an example and starter for your thinking...

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, is the current UK copyright law. It gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the right to control the ways in which their material may be used. The rights cover: Broadcast and public performance, copying, adapting, issuing, renting and lending copies to the public. In many cases, the creator will also have the right to be identified as the author and to object to distortions of his work.
Copyright arises when an individual or organisation creates a work, and applies to a work if it is regarded as original, and exhibits a degree of labour, skill or judgement.
Interpretation is related to the independent creation rather than the idea behind the creation. For example, your idea for a book would not itself be protected, but the actual content of a book you write would be. In other words, someone else is still entitled to write their own book around the same idea, provided they do not directly copy or adapt yours to do so.
Names, titles, short phrases and colours are not generally considered unique or substantial enough to be covered, but a creation, such as a logo, that combines these elements may be.
Normally the individual or collective who authored the work will exclusively own the rights. However, if a work is produced as part of employment then normally the work belongs to the person/company who hired the individual. For freelance or commissioned work, rights will usually belong to the author of the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, (i.e. in a contract for service).
Only the owner, or his exclusive licensee can bring proceedings in the courts against an infringement.
A full copy, with amendments of the act can be found at www.jenkins-ip.com.

...now did you see what I did there?  The link-back to the source is very important for this sort of copying and it also falls under 'fair use' as it is a 'snippet' for purpose of providing ancillary service.

It is important to take legal advice if one is going to follow up on a matter in which it is felt there has been a violation of one's copyright.  It's a minefield and not for the faint of heart.  As far as our general posts go, for most of us, there would be little that could be of any benefit commercially to anybody, so perhaps we cannot be too 'precious' about it.  Where we have made actual literary efforts though, (FFHT for example!) or, as in my case, poetic efforts, then of course there is clear-cut copyright to be upheld.

This is also true in regards to images which we have taken ourselves and these are perhaps the most abused items in respect of copyright. 'Watermarking' is an absolute must do folks! Absolutely everything you put on-line stays on-line. Mostly we tend to use the corners of our images for this purpose (I know I do), but of course serious thieves will just crop these off.  I am beginning now to put the moniker in parts of the photo where cropping would not be easily done.

When 'borrowing' images as I have done here, if they do not have obvious ownership written all over them like this, then all that is required is a simple 'Google Images' caption from you - regulars among you will know that I utilise that wonderful place for my Menofilcher pages; if you have accessed the Menoctionary, you will have seen that my title is the acknowledgement. It is absolutely imperative that we take care not to fall into the very act which we feel may have been perpetrated against us! The key is not to make things appear is if the work is your own when it is not - as these nasties have done with the dog blogs. One of the things that you can do is include strong links which would cause readers of the bogus blog to click through and bring them back to your original page - such as the link I have just put in above which brings folk to the page where definitions of my admittedly inscrutable titles are given. Thus you are levering off the blagger and getting traffic back via them! An important thing to note when making hyperlinks - always include the 'rel="nofollow"' HTML phrase (or tick the box in blogger link wizard) as this minimises phishing and spamming.

For those of you who have found that you have posts turning up on another's page, take a screenshot of that page (hit the PRT SC key top right of keyboard) as your proof.  Then make contact as the doods have done - if in doubt ASK GOOGLE - they can be very  helpful you know and they don't like gremlins any more than their users do.  I did provide two useful info sites to M&S, plus put them in the comments box at their alert page, but now include them here;
This techy one and
this slightly more user friendly one.

They have similar info, presented differently. This points to another factor to consider. There are many subjects in the world upon which folk seek to expound their points of view and advices and it is inevitable that similarities will appear. In some cases this is actually desirable and in no way indicates lots of content filching!


Take Aatmaavrajanam as an example here. The subject matter is very specific. It is a requirement, in fact, that the content reflect exactly what was taught to me by my teachers and theirs before them and so on. The same applies in technical things such as how to deal with copyright infringements.  If, in fact, one was to do a search and found that each site had entirely different views, then something would be very wrong indeed!  There are rules. How those rules are conveyed is what can vary, but not the essential information.

Here's the bottom line folks (yes nearly done!!!), with all the check and cross-check we can do, nothing can entirely prevent such things happening. The key points to ask if you feel 'put upon' are these;

  • are the thieves gaining financially from my/our work?
  • are there indications that such activity is causing damage to my systems through malicious software or spam piggybacking via their 'phish'?
  • are they interfering with the flow of traffic to my/our site?

Think about the possibility that you can actually benefit from their idiocy, by doing as M&S have and provide clear warning, place strong link-backs to your own articles within each page and always, (always!) remain civil in your dealings if you proceed with any action against the perpetrator/s. If things go viral, you don't want to be the one with the icky stuff all over you.  Be firm but be fair.

I hope that this article helps to calm some of the stress and increase some understanding of what has taken place in "the Blogville attack". YAM xx


18 comments:

  1. This is WONDERFUL info YAM...My hubby is in I(neternet) S(ecurity) and filled me in on this last night and I was wondering how I was going to explain it...you did a marvelous job!!

    Just a note that some photography editing programs (Lightroom for example) have metadata embedding that let you copyright your work from "behind the scenes" so to speak, as the ownership is actually attached to the digital picture wherever it goes making it easy to "prove" ownership.

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    1. Hari OM
      Thank you Dory and Mama Beth! Yes that is very true about the digitising of rights - I don't go to that effort because I do not use my photos commercially and the majority who would seek to 'filch' them are not either... Yxx

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  2. Wow! I cannot begin to thank you enough for this post. We were out of town and I as trying to follow the Blogville problems w/o laptop. I was totally confused and worried. This has relieved me greatly. Do you use the "rel no follow" to links back to your own blog? Thanks again for this information. ☺

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    1. Hari OM
      Good question! Yes, use the nofollow protocol on all hyperlinks and PARTICULARLY to your own blog!!! This is why Google have provided the tick box in the link wizard for our blog posts.

      As an addition to this I would just mention that if you receive and email notification via G+ pages from comments made there - ALWAYS go to the post to make any return comment - if you use the reply box and have a 'signature' (as I do), this is also traceable!

      Sigh.... so may potholes.... YAM xx

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  3. Brilliant post, pawfect. Being very computer illiterate thsi makes the whole blog snaffling incident much more understandable, although I still don't understand why they would take a dogs blog, not sure I can see the commercial value?
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

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    1. Hari OM
      Thank you Julie and your Princessness... the commercial value (due to location of the site in question) may be one of two things IMO;
      a) someone in a country of mid-to-Eastern base where dog appreciation is held in very low esteem finds this is the only way to show their love - or
      b) there is some intent in future to commercialise, OR (as suggested in the post) there is nefarious behind scenes activity... cover for disreputable or abusive site

      My sense is the latter for our case in h/"and. Sad but true. So the commercial value is not actually from filched posts, but in the camouflage they provide.

      Another point I would add in here which perhaps was not clear above, is that even if you trace a site's "address"/"owner" they may actually be quite remote from where it was set up. I am in UK but set my blogs up via India because that is where I was when the began and am perfectly happy to retain that base - for no other reason than personal convenience.... YAM xx

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  4. Yam ANUTY! OMCs this is most informative! I saw the warning on theMayorz blog yesterday and was wondering about it. Mom is SO UNTECHIE but this is very clear. If we embedded a link every so often through out ou blog back to us it sound like that might work initially!? Several years ago someone stole a pet photo put the pic up stating the pet was for sale. Some folks need to find a better use of their time
    Hugs
    Madi and her untechie mom

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    1. Hari Om Madi (and mom)
      strong link backs only ensure that auto-filched blog posts can be identified - they do not prevent the theft as such. Yes, there are petty crooks everywhere I fear!
      Y xx

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  5. This post is in my "first aid folder" now, many thanks! I was a little unsure if I should do a bloggy break, because many french blogs and sites were under attack for being solidary with Charlie Hebdo (or just for being french). I feel a little better now, because now I know I can do something to protect my blog and if it happens I know what I can do. THX again!
    easy Rider

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    1. Hari OM
      I cannot imagine how it must have been for you all during recent times; now there is an echo here in Blogville! As you have a 'wordpress' page, I would advise you look through their own particular set of recommendations also. I am glad that folk are find some benefit from this post! Y xx

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  6. THIS was a VERY thoughtful and informative post. We thank you for the information and for the sense of Calm that it gives us.

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  7. Thank you for this, Yam!! We need information like this and we need to share it with others!!
    sylvia

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  8. Thank you for taking the time to write this important post. I've faced this issue many times with theft of my photographs, and I always use a DMCA takedown letter to deal with it. In this case, it's not clear to me what the thieves are gaining from the content that they're stealing. Nonetheless, it's still wrong, and I hope that they are forced to stop their activities soon! Thank you!

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    1. Hari OM
      Thank you 'KB' - your photos are so magical I am not surprised folks are snaffling them! Thank you for sharing your take on it and for future readers I now provide here a link to DMCA in case they want to follow up on this. Y xx

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  9. Came by for a visit today but won't be able to read this post until later. I might have to print it and try to read it during my lunch break at work tomorrow :0) From the comments, it sounds like wonderful information!

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