Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fuck you very much, bitacle

*EDITED - see below*

My first year political science prof keenly pointed out that in politics, we should "follow the money" to understand a policy or perspective - why one group or another adopted the views it did was largely influenced by the trail of green. That sort of thinking - the "get to the root of it" is useful in many situations, not just politics.

Virtually all of the blogosphere has been writing about how shiteous bitacle is. For those who don't know, it's a site that just steals content from blogs, and posts it in its entirety, including photos, on its own web site so that it can earn money from advertising. Essentially, they steal peoples' writing, and post it as though we had agreed to have them take it and profit from it.

It bothers me that there are photos of the more intimate moments in my life (minutes after we were married, strolls through the park) and my thoughts and writing have been taken and are now being used for someone's commercial gain.

Now surely I knew that by writing stories and posting pictures that they would be read on the internet. I'm the one who put the photos up, and wrote a blog. I hadn't anticipated, though that people would take what I had done and pass it off as their own, again, for commercial gain. While bitacle has a disclaimer that says that the material belongs to the person who wrote it, but that leaves them doing what? Using it for their own profit without asking?

Ah analogies, you've always been my friend:

  • It'd be like a neighbour borrowing your lawn mower without telling you and then running a lawn cutting business with it and being shocked you were upset. It's not your freaking lawnmower to borrow, asshat!
  • It'd be like stealing a pie out of someone's oven to sell at a bake sale. You didn't make the pie! Bugger off.
  • It'd be like stealing your neighbour's tomatoes out of their garden and selling them at a road side stand. Again, not yours to sell!
  • It's stealing your roommate's essay and passing it off as your own. I'm pretty sure this had a word in university - plagiarism.
To me it's clear in all those situations that it's wrong. Stealing content from blogs is the same thing.

And so, apart from bitching and moaning about the asshatery that is bitacle (both skills I possess, to be certain) what've I done?

Well, I followed the money. I emailed Google AdSense to ask why it's their ads I see on mystolen content. Lest we think it's a one-front war, we should remember that Google AdSense is probably making more money off stolen posts than bitacle is, and that's not fair either.

They're frankly more than guilty by association in my book, they're parties to the offense. I also emailed bitacle notifying them they did not have my permission to post my blog, and asking that it be taken down, but would be shocked to receive any kind of response.

I've also changed my "feeds" to short, because I have read that helps, but frankly have no clue what a feed is so really can't guess the impact that'll have.

I've added at stopbitacle button to the top of my blog, and will probably go through my archives and add a disclaimer on my posts for anyone reading them on bitacle.

I'm not so drunk on my soapbox to believe that a lowly blog as mine will really have any kind of influence on google or bitacle, but I'd like to think that David won against Goliath, and that the power of the little guy should not be underestimated.

Finally, I'll also admit I'm contemplating packing the blog in. I've had a blast writing about our lives together in the 'shwa and have enough posts to write for years to come, but don't know that I'll continue knowing that people are profiting from what I write without my permission.


EDITED TO INCLUDE GOOGLE ADSENSE'S RESPOSE TO MY EMAIL:
Hello Heather,

Thanks for your email. I understand your concerns regarding the quality of
bitacle.org and hopefully can address them below.

Because we respect the confidentiality of all publishers, we cannot
disclose any additional details of our relationships with other sites,
like bitacle.org. However, I've forwarded your finding to our team of
specialists for further investigation.

To uphold the quality and reputation of Google AdSense, all AdSense
participants are held to our program policies
(https://www.google.com/adsense/policies ) and Terms and Conditions
(https://www.google.com/adsense/terms). If this website is found to be in
violation of any of these policies, we will take the appropriate action on
the account.

We appreciate your understanding and encourage you to continue to give us
feedback in the future.

For additional questions, I'd encourage you to visit the AdSense Help
Center (http://www.google.com/adsense_help), our complete resource center
for all AdSense topics. Alternatively, feel free to post your question on
the forum just for AdSense publishers: the AdSense Help Group
(http://groups.google.com/group/adsense-help).

Sincerely,

Lauren
The Google AdSense Team

16 comments:

Jenny said...

Thieving bastards.

Don't quit though! There will always be people trying to make money in sleazy ways. Quitting won't teach them anything. Plus, I'd miss your blog. :)

wordgirl said...

I don't know what a feed is either. Neither can I tell if Bitacle has stolen my stuff. I fear it, yet I have no proof.

The Waghorns said...

Oi ... don't start me on bitacle. The first post they stole from us was in October of last year. When I wrote about my grandfather's death in November, those also showed up on it. Now, our posts are regularly stolen. If you search our URL on technorati or google blogs you'll see links from bitacle blogs, where word for word, image by image our content.

Of course by linking back to our site and by being another blog linking to us the excuse is that they're sending us traffic and driving up our ad rates, should we ever choose to put ads on our site, but no one's ever linked in from bitacle, and even if they did, I'd prefer if our content wasn't stolen.

Bitacle is the reason why I recently licensed us under a creative commons license. My understanding is that it's more of a philosophical license than one codified and universially recognized, but it still makes me feel better knowing that it's out there that our permission is required before our content is recycled ... not that we would give our permission for our content to be reposted for commercial gain.

RAGE ON HEATHER! RAGE ON!

mamatulip said...

Well you know I understand where you're coming from with that last paragraph...whatever you decide to do, do it for you.

TB said...

Brilliant of you to contact Google Adsense. I think I'll do the same as it doesn't seem they are phased thus far. More voices maybe equals action?
This whole situation just blows and I hope you won't quit.

Nancy said...

Hey! I contacted AdSense about a week ago and have not heard squat. I'm writing them back ASAP.

This whole thing makes me so angry that I see red.

BTW, regarding the feeds -- a full feed means that your entire post is available and will be posted in Bitacle. It's like e-mailing them the entire post, all of your words. That means they can then post the entire thing on the site, and all of the text is searchable. If you make just a summary feed available, only a paragraph or two will be available to Bitacle to post -- for example, maybe the first few sentences of your post. This (theoretically) reduces the chance of people finding your post content because they're only searching on a piece of it instead of the fulltext. It also means people will be likely to click over to your real blog to read what you write, rather than reading the whole thing in Bitacle's interface.

Does that make sense?

something blue said...

I applaud you loudly! I love that you are a take action woman.

I guess that I'm lucky that they only stole 25 of my posts. Grrrr...

roro said...

Holy crap! I never even heard of this until I read about it here. That's just cold wet and wrong. Good on you for writing Google. Also, excellent analogies. I'm so mad I could spit! Grrr!

Henly said...

I was trying to figure out why the idea of my blog entries being propogated to another site didn't seem to bother me as much as others, when I realized it's because none of my posts (at least, anymore) are of a personal nature.

Perhaps that's an alternative solution to shutting down the blog? Just changing the content. That way, your readers could still enjoy your writing style but you don't have to worry about details of your personal life ending up on another site.

Me said...

but Henly, could they not post the pictures of you little daughter?

Heather said...

Jenny: I think you're right about it not teaching them anything.

Wordgirl: SO glad I'm not the only one. If you want to know, go to bitacle.org and search under aggregates. (I looked, they have 33 of your posts too)

the waghorns: I might look into a creative commons license too. Stupid bitacle.

mamatulip: I'm still bummed you're gone.

TB: Hah I don't think anything I've done could be characterized as brilliant.

Nancy: Thanks for the edjamication on feeds - it totally makes sense now. I really had no idea.

Something blue: Yeah unfortunately action doesn't always equal change. Thanks for the applause but I'm pretty sure it isn't warranted.

roro: cold, wet and wrong is the perfect description (they have 22 of your posts)

Henly: I think it's more the profit part that bothers me - I mean I write it just for fun, not for other peoples financial gain.

Me: Not sure if they've taken any of Henly's posts.

Her Bad Mother said...

I'm so mad about Bitacle that I can't even write about it - yet. They have my entire blog.

I'm going to follow your example, though, and write to AdSense. If enough of us do it, it will make a difference.

(A couple of posts back I included some links to some great posts that have their own links to great info - did you see these?)

(Also - how does one change one's feed to a short feed?)

(And, um, what's a feed?)

lindsay said...

You might want to consider switching your blog to a more friends-only service like vox or LJ (if you can stand the drama) BTW I'm the local reader who asked about the thai place in another post. I love reading your thoughts on the shwa!

sunshine scribe said...

I love that you went after them.

Heather, change your feeds to short and they'll stop stealing.

kittenpie said...

OMG! I read somewhere that the google adsense ads don't appear to be there anymore! Maybe it was you! And even if not, what a smart move on your part. Good going, lady. And may I selfishly add, I hope you don't leave too!

Heather said...

Her Bad Mother; I did see your links a couple of posts back and that's what got me started figuring this crap out. Thanks!

lindsay: Thanks for stopping by! Never tried vox or LJ but thought about switching to wordpress. We'll see how it goes. Have you tried Thai 2 Go yet? Also, I can't seem to visit your blog (assuming you have one)... it could be the whole blogger beta thing. Email me the link though if you have a chance.

sunshine scribe: Hah well I'm sure me and a small army of pissy people emailed google. My feeds are changed and they now have 25 posts instead of 172.

kittenpie: I'm pretty sure I had very little to do with it, but you're right -