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Serbia: A Special Case of Blog Plagiarism

Categories: East Asia, Eastern & Central Europe, China, Serbia, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Law, Media & Journalism, Technology

Does a Creative Commons License help protect your blog from plagiarism? Is it a crime if a person from China copies your blog to overcome the so-called Great Firewall of China [1], trying to get some money along the way. How to protect yourself from web infringement?

Danica Radovanovic is a well-known blogger from Belgrade, who cares very much about her intellectual property and is eager to solve the problem she described at a Creative Commons listserv [2] on May 30:

[…]

some guy mirrored and stole entire blog of mine, the guy copied entire blog, my intellectual property under CC license (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License) plus he added AdSense to earn money on my account – I never ever had commercial usage or benefit from my blog.

[…]

To cut story short, you saw the link of my latest post, I won't post anymore as everything comes up from mine blog to this stealer's blog who earns on my intellectual work (placed in China I assume). You will find all info in this post and from comments of IT and software engineers. Also science blogger Bora Zivkovic from Science Blogs gave alert at his web site [3] and we are looking for legal help asap.

At her blog, Danica has posted [4] a step-by-step instruction to help others dealing with the same issue:

Let this be loud shame for those thieves. It is detected where the stealer comes from, as well as I reported abuse email on their host, and to the Google removals.

Yan responds:

[…] What he did is setting up a proxy for people in mainland China to access wikipedia, technorati, and wordpress. You know the GFW block these websites. […] So blame him for the ads, and blame GFW at the same time.

Bernarda gives another example, introducing mysterious “302 redirects”:

Here is another serious blogger who has problems. Jim Zwick’s very informative site [5] on Mark Twain and other stuff has basically been shut down.

“ […] The removal of the materials from the site is the result of the site being banned from both Google and the Microsoft Live search engine, which I believe is the result of their inability to deal with a well-documented problem with page hijacking using 302 redirects. A 302 redirect is supposed to be used to tell a web browser that a page has been temporarily moved to a new location. The browser is supposed to automatically go to that URL instead of generating a “page not found” error. Google and other search engines (except Yahoo) interpret these links to mean that the page linked to really belongs at the linking site, and it lists it under that domain instead of the domain where the page is housed. […]”

Mark McCrohon writes:

I have developed a plagiarism detection tool called DOC Cop that helps bloggers determine if their site has been posted elsewhere on the web. DOC Cop is on the web here [6] – DOC Cop does not take copyright or ownership of material submitted for investigation and processing is free of charge (donations appreciated).

Then Danicar considers two ways of fighting cybercrime:

[…] 1. to submit a formal notification of claimed infringement as described in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (512(c)(3)(A)(i-vi)) to the Host (big company where this criminal holds all domains), so they would: ”Upon receipt of a valid DMCA Notification, we will commence with the removal of such content in an expeditious manner.”

vague…

and the other way, which includes real Digital Guru’s

2. to process my request of infringement here [7] (”the file a notice of infringement with us – read: Google, you must provide a written communication”):

and this way has a much much heavier and broader notice.[…]

Raincoaster writes:

This particular case has been discussed in the forum quite extensively and the general consensus is that it’s a workaround to make sure that the contents of our blogs are made available to people in China and other countries where WordPress is banned, rather than a targeted attempt at piracy or theft of intellectual property.

You’re right, though, Adsense is very bad form. VERY bad, and it shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

At this point you get to make a choice: if you see this as a creative way to get your blog past the censorship hurdles that China puts up, then you would leave things. It’s posting my blog too, and I’m just going to leave it because it’s important to me that my blog be read all over the world, even in countries where the governments try to block it.

If you still want to pursue this, the only real choice is the way that Dreamhost, the company you’re dealing with, has requested, which is your choice #1 in that list you’ve just posted.

It’s entirely up to you.

[…]

What I mean is, you need to HIRE a lawyer. The EFF is a great resource, but they’re not a legal aid group; they’re lobbyists and activists.

Remember, too, that it’s US Copyright that you’re operating under, because you published it on a WordPress.com blog and that’s the terms of service. But the blog you’re fighting may or may not be hosted in a country that recognizes that law. China certainly doesn’t.

Michele writes:

I feel your pain!

I’ve been having similar issues with a well known industry news site stealing my articles and reposting them verbatim as their own [8]

I didn’t want to name and shame at first, but I eventually did [9], as their response was so pathetic.

In her post titled “Goodbye, Wikipedia.jaylee.cn!”, Danica closes [10] the case:

You may feel sorry that the whole wikipedia mirror is gone, as the guy who did the same with my blog was also circumventing Chinese content restrictions, as earlier said that citizens of China are not allowed to read Wikipedia. His web site was shut down by his ISP due to supposed threats from government.

At this time, the case rests, but the amount of stress, time and effort Danica has invested to solve the issue are enormous. This is a small contribution to the examination of the ethical questions of blogging. The conversation will go on.