I often spend time reviewing my website logs to see who my visitors are, what topics are generating the most interest, and what websites readers are coming from. This evening, while reviewing the activity log, I noticed an entry from a web agent that stood out from the others.
This agent stood out from the others not only because it was from a WordPress agent named WordPress/3.1.3; http://internetsecurityhowto.info, but also because it was from a .info domain. I was curious what type of Internet security information would be hosted on a generic .info domain, and why such a web site would be accessing my content with a WordPress web bot. I visited the website at http://www.internetsecurityhowto.info, and browsing through the index page of the site I found that the site consisted of a host of security related articles and keywords, conspicuously placed near a series of advertisements for security products. It was obvious that the content of the site was meant to attract potential buyers for the advertised products.
Scrolling down the page I found what I suspected, a copy of one of my recent articles. The very same article, in fact, as the one visited by the websites web agent only a few moments ago. The article, however, had minor alterations, a modified title, a word changed here and there, but without a doubt it was my article. It was apparent that my content was taken and used without my permission. Even the image included with my article was used without my permission. My intellectual property rights were just violated.
I immediately took steps to record what I had found before things were changed. I created PDF copies of the content, obtained a Whois report of the website owner, and made copies of the the logs from my website showing that the offending website accessed my site to obtain the my content.
Armed with enough documentation to prove that my content had been illegally obtained and used on his site, I wrote an email to the website owner listed in the Whois records.
In addition to the email, I also posted a comment to the illegally modified version of my article on the http://www.internetsecurityhowto.info website. As of the writing of this article, the comment is still in moderation and has not been approved.
Because the owner of this web site resides in Russia my legal options are admittedly very limited. If the owner decides to ignore my demand to remove the content I will need to pursue other avenues of recourse. If I can provide sufficient proof to the hosting ISP, HostGator, I may be able to convince them to intercede if the site is obviously violating international copyright law. Otherwise, I would file a DMCA Notice with the ISP.
A DMCA Notice, also referred to as a DMCA Takedown Notice, is a notification to either a web hosting company or a search engine that copyright-infringing material is being hosted or linked to by their service. It provides notice to the ISP instructing them to remove the copyrighted content. Web hosts are required to remove or disable access to the content, while search engines must remove links to the content.
I’ve given the website owner 24 hours to act, so now we play the waiting game. I have a feeling this is going to be the start of a series of articles on the subject of Internet content theft and intellectual property rights. As I wait for a reply, I’ve begun to research just how widespread this problem is. Stay tuned…