Dealing With Thieves

A few Web sites have been pirating our articles, deleting our copyright notices, and giving themselves authorship credit. They usually avoid naming a specific individual as the author (for obvious legal reasons), but they will claim the article was authored by “Admin” or insert “Author Unknown” for the name of the author. This suggests they have authors who write on behalf their company (who therefore do not identify themselves), or that the article is floating around on the Internet without a known author.

All our articles and tutorials are original and bear a copyright notice. Before they are published here or anywhere else, we mail several copies to ourselves by registered mail through the US Postal Service. These are kept as evidence in the event we have to take legal action.

They are then submitted only to reputable publishers who have a stringent “Terms of Service” agreement. Under this agreement, all publishers of our articles must give the author’s name, reproduce the copyright notice, and keep all links functional. For any of our articles, the author’s name and copyright holder is available to anybody who will do an Internet search for the article by its name. If a Web site claims the author is unknown, it is because that Web site wants it to remain unknown. Such Web sites do have options other than stealing the work of others.

1. They could write their own original articles if they do not want to give credit to anybody else.

2. They could simply do a 2-minute Internet search and get the name of the author and copyright holder. Such a search will turn up the author’s name and the identity of the copyright holder for ALL of our articles.

3. They could avoid publishing an article if they cannot identify the author.

Instead, pirating sites often post numerous articles, ALL of which have an “Unknown Author” or indicate that they were written by “Admin.” A simple search will show the same article published by a reputable publisher with the original author’s name and a copyright notice.

These sites have nothing original to offer, feed off the work of others to make themselves look legitimate and to generate traffic for their sites, give no credit to the people who actually do the work, refuse to keep the links that will enable a reader to go to the author’s site, and refuse to respond when asked to either include the name of the real author and copyright notice or delete the article from their site. They tend to think that they have little to lose by stealing from others.

Legitimate publishers may refuse to syndicate an article if it has appeared on the Internet ascribed to another “author,” even if the other author is “Admin.” or “Author Unknown.” We have had one of our articles rejected because it appeared elsewhere on the Internet with “Admin.” for the author’s name.

We had submitted an original article to a legitimate publisher. Publishers often take a few days to review and approve an article before publishing it. While the publisher was reviewing the article, we submitted the same article to a second legitimate publisher. The second publisher approved the article immediately. Then, a pirating site copied the article from this publisher, replaced the author’s name with “Admin,” and published the article on their own Web site. Then the first publisher we had submitted the article to found the pirated copy on the Internet attributed to “Admin.” This publisher then refused to publish it because they feared that we may have stolen it from “Admin.”

This not only makes us appear to have stolen the articles we have created, but it also prevents us from syndicating our own work. It defrauds us of the full benefit of our own original labor. If the incentive to create original work is taken away, people will cease to create it. Then, there will be nothing left worth stealing.

Internet publishing companies do not like to be involved in legal actions, and they will often remove sites and articles if they are accused of violating copyright laws. There are other actions that can be taken to render stealing not worth the effort. Thieves and cheats have to be dealt with in a manner that will induce behavior modification. Otherwise, they will not change their behavior. The problem has been that too few original authors bother to take action.  Thieves think they can count on that.