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“If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by.” – Proverb

“The tribe has spoken. It’s time for you to go.” Jeff Probst, Survivor

In Monday’s post about the latest plagiarist, I talked about how WordPress.com is wonderfully responsive to complaints of plagiarism.  Whenever I find my work copied on a blog hosted at WordPress.com, I email the blogger first to talk them into taking it down.  If they don’t respond or comply, I just file a DMCA request via email, and WordPress takes the offending pages down within a day or two.  I don’t bother alerting the community if it’s just one or two posts, or if I’m the only guy who’s been ripped off.  I’d rather just get the problem fixed, move past it, and let the plagiarist lick their wounds in private.

Unfortunately, not every host responds like WordPress.com, and the problem gets worse with self-hosted and international sites.

For the last year, I’ve been struggling with another site that’s copying my stuff:

Worst. Plagiarist. Ever.

Worst. Plagiarist. Ever.

Pardon my French, but I hate these bastards.

  1. They’re physically copy/pasting my articles.  If you see the “Read more” link, that’s what happens when you copy/paste content off my web page thanks to Tynt.com, a great tool for bloggers that I’ll be discussing later this week.  This jerk is just going to my page, highlighting what he likes, copying it, and pasting it into his own blog.
  2. They’re hotlinking to my images.  The error message you see (it even includes BrentO!) resides on i.brentozar.com, my caching site, and I pay whenever someone views that image.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not expensive, but this lazy no-good bum is costing me money.
  3. They’re ripping off my stuff, Microsoft TechNet, MSSQLTips, and a bunch of you bloggers.
  4. They have no contact link to send email, and no personally identifying information.
  5. They’re using UmbraHosting.com, and that crappy hosting company doesn’t respond to DMCA requests or emails.  They’re effectively condoning plagiarism.

A few days ago, I was ecstatic to see that the domain name had lapsed without being renewed, and the site went down.  Gail Shaw and I were cheering that this bozo had finally bit the dust, but like a zombie, he’s back from the dead.

So I give.  I can’t get this site to die, and that’s where you come in.  I can’t offer a bounty to whoever gets the plagiarism removed off that site, because that’ll be too tough to prove, so I’ll offer a reward instead.

When that site is no longer serving plagiarized material (either because it’s taken down altogether, or the plagiarized material is gone) I’ll donate $250 to the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation in the name of the SQL Server community.

C’mon, people.  Show me what ya got.  Ferret out the owner of this site, get in contact with the hosting company, and show off your ability to play Internet Detective.

Diabolical Bastards

Diabolical Bastards

Update Nov 18th – it’s down!  I’m going to wait a few days to make sure they stay down, and then I’m ecstatic to make the $250 donation to the EFF.

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker

Update December 4th – in the last couple of weeks it went up and came down a couple of times, but their web host has assured me they won’t let it go online again with copyrighted material intact.  To celebrate, I’ve made the $250 donation to the EFF.  Yay, rights protection!  I got a swag package for the $250 donation, and I’ll give that away on my blog when I get it.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Donation

Electronic Frontier Foundation Donation

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  1. Tynt – I like. I use it on my other blog. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available on WordPress.com hosted blogs, which is a nuisance!

    Good luck with the bounty offer.

  2. Hey brent,

    I am a fellow asp.net mvp from greece. Well it seems to me that you have some magic script that alerts you whenever some post appears on the web that has plagiarised content.

    they are bums. you are right.

    Looking forward to your next technical post.

    at the moment i am enjoyng your videos on the MCM training program. thanks for that.

    Congrats on becoming MCM on SQL Server. I understand that only a handfull of people outside MS have this cert.

  3. Ha! You said “ferret.” I iz on the case! Scampering through the intertubz to sink this fiendish cad. Calling in many favorz. Plagiarism will never pay, while good peoplez like you and domesticated polecats like me, stand united against it.

  4. Brent,

    You will likely need to get a lawyer and sue them for copyright infringement. BugoSQL is located in Indiana, so it’s not like you’re dealing with a foreign entity. Plus, it will go to federal court. You just have to be willing to pay to defend your IP.

    Best,
    Mark

    • Mark – I’m willing to pay, but not with my time anymore, which is why I offered the bounty. Since other folks are getting ripped off by this guy too, it helps to get the whole community involved.

  5. Brent,

    I’m not trying to be a jerk or start an argument, I just don’t understand: How is that first screenshot an example of plagiarism? The site names you as the author and has a link to your original work. Isn’t that proper citation for a copyrighted work?

    Like I said, I’m just trying to understand this a bit better and make sure that I never plagiarize someone else’s work, so any insight you can offer would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Adam (NFDotCom on Twitter)

    • Brent has it spelled out on how his content should be used

      http://www.brentozar.com/what-i-do/using-material-from-my-blog/

      I can’t find the post on the other blog now, but it looks like he posted more than 25% of Brent’s article and didn’t get prior permission to do so.

      • That’s a good point, I didn’t think to see if Brent specifically stated how his content can be used. I agree with you that the other site was clearly using more than 20% of Brent’s original article, and therefore violated Brent’s content usage policy.

    • Adam – your question is totally legit. If you took Lady Gaga’s latest CD, made copies of it, and handed it out on street corners, you don’t get a break just because you put “This is Lady Gaga’s stuff from http://www.LadyGaga.com” on the front of the CD. If you take Harry Potter and the Chamber Pot of Doom, make paper copies, and put “This is from HarryPotter.com” on the cover, you can’t give that away on street corners either. Blogs work the same way – attribution alone does not match the Creative Commons licensing I’m using.

      • I guess I tend to think of copyrights from the perspective of a student writing a research paper, where that kind of citation is generally acceptable. Your explanation makes perfect sense though. One of my hobbies is creating digital music, and if someone started giving away free copies of my music, even if they said I was the musician and linked to my site, I’d still be pretty upset.

        • Adam – if your ENTIRE RESEARCH PAPER consists of a complete copy/paste and an attribution to someone else’s research paper, do you really think the teacher would be okay with that?

          I’m fine with small pieces of my posts being used, and I say that in my terms & conditions page, but you can’t just lift my entire post, plant the whole thing on your site as one blog post, and call it a day. That’s not a “research” paper. That’s a copy.

        • Citation or no, there are limits to copying on academic papers. I quote a sentence or 2 and cite it that’s fine. I quote a page and my thesis adviser is going to (validly) require me to rewrite it.

  6. Doesn’t using profanities potentially hit the search engine ranking of your site? I can imagine Google’s search bot going ‘Whoa! I thought this site was good clean content, but now….!’

  7. since they are hotlinking your images have you thought about giving them a couple surprises?

    This talks about modifying htaccess:
    http://altlab.com/htaccess_tutorial.html

    wordpress specific allowing google to still correctly access your images:
    http://bloggingabout.com/prevent-image-hotlinking-wordpress.html

    You may not be able to stop them but you can make them work harder.

    • Steve – the problem is that I use a global content distribution network (CDN) to cache my images around the world, and it’s not compatible with htaccess stunts. I used to use that trick before I switched to a CDN.

      • Which CDN do you use?

        I know Amazon’s CloudFront lets you specify simple rules on serving content. One of the examples is specifically to stop hotlinking.

        • I use CloudFront and S3 – can you point me to information about those rules? I haven’t seen that – I’ve only seen examples to prevent access from other IP addresses.

  8. Neat things about his site:

    His “Contactus” (sic) link goes nowhere. Not sure what he gets out of this. No ads anywhere.

    He has a copyright on the site – oh, the irony!

  9. Does anyone know which part of Indiana this is located? I am close to southern Indiana, and lots of people there come to my UG. I am more than happy to pass the word around and try if that helps any.

    • Registrant:
      Umbra Hosting, LLC
      7812 N Meridian Rd
      Fortville, Indiana 46040
      United States

      Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
      Domain Name: BUGOSQL.NET
      Created on: 13-Nov-09
      Expires on: 13-Nov-11
      Last Updated on: 16-Nov-10

      Administrative Contact:
      Hosting, Umbra domains@umbrahosting.com
      Umbra Hosting, LLC
      7812 N Meridian Rd
      Fortville, Indiana 46040
      United States
      +1.8882923522 Fax –

      Technical Contact:
      Hosting, Umbra domains@umbrahosting.com
      Umbra Hosting, LLC
      7812 N Meridian Rd
      Fortville, Indiana 46040
      United States
      +1.8882923522 Fax –

      Domain servers in listed order:
      NS1.UMBRAHOSTING.COM
      NS2.UMBRAHOSTING.COM

  10. Brent,

    Perhaps you could try sending a DMCA request to the host of the host. Looks like they are co-located in your backyard.

    http://www.coloquest.com/contact.html

    http://www.dnsstuff.com/tools/whois/?tool_id=66&token=&toolhandler_redirect=0&ip=69.65.31.28

    545 E. Algonquin Rd. Ste. D
    Arlington Heights, IL 60005
    Phone: 1-800-561-2656

    -Dan

  11. Fortville, hahaha. I had to look on a map to see where that even is.

    If anyone has any contacts at IndyPASS, pass word along to them and shame him there!

  12. You could have bought the domain name when you had the chance. :b

  13. I will pass information on to IndyPASS.

  14. I sent an email to support@umbrahosting.com. Perhaps if enough people contact them they’ll feel compelled to shut down the domain.

    The host of the host idea is great. Umbra owns about 137 other domains. Unfortunately the other 136 domains are also at risk of being shut down if they don’t correct this situation.

  15. I followed inbound links using Yahoo Site explorer.
    Am I missing something or is it this guy?
    Peter Bugo
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterbugo

  16. Brent,

    Looks like they took down that content, or maybe my browser just isn’t configured to see it. When I click on the index, all I get is a summary of your article and a link back to your website, I do not see the image you posted in your blog.

    Best of luck!
    Joe

  17. Brent, Umbra responded to my support request 36 minutes after I contacted them. They’re requesting a formal DMCA takedown notice and promising to remove the content within 48 hours. I don’t think it makes sense for one of us to submit the DMCA request given that you’re the content owner. Here is what they said:

    Jonathan,

    We will need a DMCA takedown notice in order to act on this. Once the DMCA notice is received at abuse@umbrahosting.com we will respond within 48 hours.

    Regards,
    Kelle

    ———————————————-
    Ticket ID: #920528

  18. This is two plagiarists in a row that claim an MS certification.

    Presumably, MS wants certification holders that can adhere to some basic level of ethical behavior (they do discourage cheating on the exams, after all).

    Maybe MS could be persuaded to revoke certifications based on ethical grounds. Plagiarism/cheating is about as basic as it gets.

  19. That’s odd, when I looked to up umbrahosting’s upstream provider, I came up with theplanet.com.

    Maybe IPTools.com was wrong?

  20. If he is hot-linking to your images why don’t you try this:
    Post an article, with a nice large image in the middle of the page
    Wait for him to copy it.
    Create a new copy of the image and link to that in your site.
    Edit the original image to say something like ‘This content is stolen from …..’
    Would this work?

  21. I’m also confused, like Adam. The first link shows a copy of your work, attributed to you, unaltered, with no ads. I haven’t seen any ads on the site. Discounting the fact that he’s hotlinking images (which is no good, but let’s pretend he’s not doing that for just a moment) – how is that not within the bounds of Creative Commons?

    You can’t release your content under Creative Commons AND try to enforce an arbitrary 25% requirement – that’s not Creative Commons, it’s your own license. There’s some ambiguity in “attribute my work in the manner specified by me” – but that ambiguity disappears when you review the actual legal code of the CC license, and it doesn’t extend to a “25% rule”.

    • Tom – you can add things to a license. It’s not like I signed a contract with Creative Commons that restricts me to something. For example, I can grant more permissions to other folks, like licensing my content to a publisher. Licensing is always arbitrary to the content owner.

      • Of course you can, you can license your work anyway you like, and in different ways to different people (for profit or not) – but when you add your 25% restriction – it’s not CC anymore:
        http://wiki.creativecommons.org/FAQ#Can_I_change_the_terms_of_a_CC_license_or_waive_some_of_its_conditions.3F

        When you release your work to the public under two different licenses, they can pick one or the other to follow. As I understand it, you’re releasing it only under one license – but it’s a modification of a CC license, and can’t be referred to as Creative Commons. (You’re actually breaking *their* license by creating a Derivative Work but still referring to it as the original.)

        • Tom – that’s an interesting angle, and I hadn’t thought of that before. To make it crystal clear, I’ve stopped licensing this site under Creative Commons, and I’ve switched to an outright copyright. I wish I didn’t have to do that, but if that’s what I have to do to make it absolutely clear, that’s what I’ll do.

          • Brent don’t take this comment too seriously, just trying to be a bit provoking for the sake of the discussion.

            I find this post and the discussion a bit ironic: you accuse a blogger for plagiarism, manage to take its content down under DMCA (something which can’t be enforced everywhere BTW) just to find out that you didn’t pay enough attention to the license you chose for your work. In some litigious countries you could face some serious problems because public defamation falls under criminal law.

            Moreover, I wonder now what happens with the already released work. Is it enough from your side to remove the CC license? Does it still covers previously released work? How can anyone prove it?

            Also, if I was malicious enough, I would say that is a bit too convenient for someone to put on the good-boy creative-commons hat in the beginning just to throw it away when he is famous.

            I really think you should double think about this story. One thing is someone that completely steals your content without attribution, another one is someone that does it but gives attribution.

          • Waldorf – I appreciate the thought you’ve put into your comments, and thanks for starting that discussion. I’m curious to hear if other readers agree with your point of view.

  22. @Brent — Happy news! Umbard has taken actions it seems, i tried to browse that website and I can find it in suspended state. I hope all your work & reader effort make it down.

  23. Maybe not so good news? I just browsed to it no problems. Can bring up the article Brent has in the screenshot. :-(

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