Someone is stealing our stuff!

I have no problems with people using the Stargazer’s World RSS feed as it is meant to be. The contents of the blog are usually licensed under CC BY-NC-SA after all. But it really pisses me off when someone takes the post and even the comments posted under them and posts them at his own site making it look like it was their content.

While moderating trackbacks this morning I noticed that one of those sites has starting misusing the posts we’ve written for Stargazer’s World over the last few weeks. I posted a screenshot of the site below. There is a small link “View full post on Stargazer’s World” linking back to the original article in there but still the site still is in violation of the CC license since it’s clearly commercial in nature. And if someone added Stargazer’s World to some kind of RPG Planet without asking for permission I might not even mind, but in this case it’s obvious that there’s no overzealous RPG fan at work.

Filing off the serial numbers ...
If there was some contact info on the site, I would have contacted the owner and kindly ask him to remove the feed. But in a way I think it’s a futile battle. There are hundreds of these sites all over the net that use other sites’ RSS feeds for their nefarious deeds.

Has anyone of you dealt with something like this before? Does it make sense to fight against these guys or is it like fighting windmills? Any advice? By the way, I am not linking directly to the site here, but the URL should be clearly visible in the screenshot above.

This is not a good way to start a day! *sigh*

UPDATE: Yahoo took action. The copyright infringing site was taken down.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

21 thoughts on “Someone is stealing our stuff!”

  1. I have experienced this on the news publication that I run. We have the luxury of being able to send a letter from our corporate counsel threatening legal action. But it really is a bit futile; since professionalism in the blogosphere can be an elusive thing, and there are plenty of plagiarists out there who simply lack the self-respect to not steal another's work and claim it as their own.

    1. If this actually was a misguided blogger, then I wouldn't be as angry as I'm now. But the site shows clearly that there are people at work who steal random RSS feeds to post as their own and generate revenues by ads.

  2. I don't think he's a misguided blogger, the site was only registered on the 8th and there are LOTS of ripped posts. The only way to get anything done here is to contact the hosting company (Yahoo). He used a privacy company to protect his registrant info:

    Registrant Name:Richard Mantler
    Registrant Organization:Private Registration US
    Registrant Street1:PO Box 61359
    Registrant City:Sunnyvale
    Registrant State/Province:CA
    Registrant Postal Code:94088
    Registrant Country:US
    Registrant Phone:+1.5105952002

    I'm unsure if I would call the site commercial, or at least his use of your content as commercial. Yes, it looks like he uses ads to generate revenue, but I could see the argument being made that no one is charged to view the content in question. It's definitely a grey area that I haven't seen any [US] case law for.

    1. He's at least in violation of the CC license I use for Stargazer's World. When he wants to use my stuff on his site he has to share it under the same license. Which he doesn't. And the posts are not properly credited because each post is marked as written by "admin". I am not sure if a link back to the original post is enough.

  3. I completely agree this is wrong. I would understand if one of the posts here influenced the guy to write his own post dealing with the subject and he linked back here, but to take the entire power and call it his own is just not right.

    I would suggest contacting the Web Host, but I agree fighting this is kind of futile. However, being a believer in honesty within the press, I would still try to get something done about the website.
    My recent post From Movie to Adventure- Aliens

      1. Yeah, I'm not big on summary RSS feeds, it sort of defeats the purpose for me. In the end, I wouldn't worry too much about this anyways. Yeah, it's stolen content, but the very nature of that site probably means its doomed (and I don't see it stealing your audience or even attracting one of its own).

        1. That's true. As I thought from the start it's probably not worth fighting them. In mere days the site will probably be down and replaced by another one.

  4. Very interesting. This post doesn't appear at the site. So they actually moderate the feeds. I really hope Yahoo acts soon and takes the site down. These guys just don't deserve it any better!

    UPDATE: I was mistaken, the post appeared on their site after all. So they just automatically copy all the content and the comments without moderation.

  5. It looks like they're trying to be a sort of "engadget" for RPGs (computer, pen&paper, etc.), in that they're aggregating articles from all over. The difference is, they're copying in the text of the articles directly (and, perhaps, automatically), instead of quoting and summarizing and giving "coverage" type write-ups with a link back to the original source.

    BTW: I'm in the same area as "Sunnyvale". Let me know if you ever need a local point-of-contact in dealing with the issue. (I also know local lawyers, if it comes to that)

  6. A technical solution is to use a WordPress plugin such as WP-Ban to block the scraper's IP address.
    Their site has the IP adresses and I'm assuming that those are the addresses they're querying you from. (If not, then your server logs would probably give you the actual address).
    You can also block visitors by IP address using Apache's .HTACCESS file but that's a whole new level of geekery.
    Either way, it's not infallible – if they were to change IP, you'd have to block the new IP and so on.
    And there's the annoyance factor of having to waste time reacting to dishonest people.

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