Stealing Web content

Donald D. Markstein ddmarkstein at
Tue Jan 10 13:51:21 CET 2006

> I just found this page today
> unfortunately I can't check the actual tree, as you have to pay for that
> I just wondered what people here thought about this, several 
> references in the article (the use of the name fauntleroy as well as 
> the name "scotty" for scrooge's father made me wonder if this guy 
> didn't use my work without telling me, I don't have any objection for 
> using my work in other sites, even if I'd like to be referred to 
> somewhere, but certainly NOT in paying contents!! Please tell me if 
> I'm not too paranoid, and what you think I should do...
> Gilles

Gilles, I deal with plagiarism all the time. That's what happens when 
you put so much work into Web content that it becomes attractive to 
freeloading thieves, who think that because it's easy to steal (like a 
bicycle left on the front lawn), it's therefore morally and perhaps even 
legally acceptable. There are people right on this list who take that 
vile, destructive attitude.

First step is to go to any domain registrar, and find their "WHOIS" 
function. Use it to look up the legal contact for, then write 
to explain the situation, i.e., that you suspect thievery (and state 
why), but that you'd rather not PAY to see your own work and confirm it. 
(But try to put across an impression that you're perfectly willing to go 
that far if you have to, to shut down a plagiarist.)  Use the word 
"copyright" even if you haven't taken steps to establish it -- legally, 
you own one the moment the work is created.

Once the theft is confirmed, they should ask you a half-dozen or so 
questions to confirm that you're the legal owner of the intellectual 
property. Answer them correctly, and if all goes smoothly, the material 
will be gone in a couple of days.

If you don't get satisfaction from, use WHOIS to find out who 
hosts the domain, and repeat the process. They'll be very protective of 
their legal standing, and are likely to cooperate in rooting out theft 
that they can be held responsible for.

Some people take the attitude that it's okay for others to use their 
work without permission, and that's cool -- FOR THEM. But those who 
believe they're entitled to own what they so painstakingly create do 
have legal recourse.

Why should they take it? Well, for one thing, there's possible loss of 
revenue -- for the past six-plus years, I've been treating my 
Toonopedia(tm) ( as a part-time job, just as I 
do my other work. Now that it's finally starting to bring in serious 
money, I want to be the one to reap the rewards, and I resent the hell 
out of a no-talent, no-ambition dork hijacking my work. Not only does it 
have the potential of directly siphoning off income that should be mine, 
there's also the indirect damage from the fact that search engines 
penalize duplicate content. I stand to lose my favored position in 
Google et al., which I've worked so hard to achieve.

But even if you're not in it as an entrepreneur, you're certainly in it 
for SOMETHING. Whether it's public credit and admiration, the warm 
feeling of having added to the sum of knowledge in the world, or 
whatever -- this guy is trying to get the same benefit by stealing your 
work (and if I were you, I'd find it particularly galling to see him 
charge money for it). You don't have to let him get away with it.

Good luck! With proper cooperation, you should have no problems, but as 
I know from experience, it can be difficult and frustrating to 
re-establish ownership of stolen work. At least the law is on your side.

Quack, Don

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