The Biggest Splog Battle of ‘Em All
Bloggers are generally affable individuals. There’s usually a sense of community among groups of blogger-acquaintances and friends and even strangers. And whenever there are disagreements, these are usually handled as diplomatically as possible, except, perhaps for some rare cases.
But bloggers are a sensitive bunch, too, espeically when it comes to their content. I, for one, would usually react strongly if I see my content being quoted or even republished in full on other blogs or websites without adequate citation or permission, especially if these people are monetizing their sites using my content. Sure, my Creative Commons license allows for republishing and derivative works, but only for non-commercial purposes and with adequate citations.
While I first try to settle things amicably (and I have done successfuly so several times), there have been situations when I had to act more aggressively. These include writing DMCA complaints to hosting providers and even doing some not-so-ethical things as a last resort (email me if you want to know).
Large Scale Splogging
Now multiply this scenario a thousand times over, and what have we got? A war where bloggers willingly participate in. Sure, splogging* is bad. But doing it on a large scale is the worst thing one can do to bloggers, especially if you’re crowding them out of potential readership and even revenues.
And so comes the battle against Bitacle.
The people behind bitacle.org steal content, such as text and images, from otherâ€™s weblogs and place it on their own website. Their practices are criminal and/or abusive, because these people violate the copyrights on the original content, of their holders. Not only copyrights are violated, licenses such as those of the Creative Commons are not respected as well.
Stolen content from weblogs is placed on bitacle.orgâ€™s website, between commercial messages for which the people behind binacle.org are being paid for by advertisers.
The problem with Bitacle is that they’re hosted in Spain, so a DMCA complaint wouldn’t work. Bloggers have been getting in touch with Google and other search and/or monetization services to complain against Bitacle, but it seems it will take more than emails to get their attention (they need the complaint in writing).
*Splog = Spam + blog. Either spamming on comemnt sections or creating blogs solely for the purpose of linking to affiliate sites or monetizing thru various publisher programmes. Contents are usually lifted directly from other blogs either manually or thru aggregation. Wikipedia definition here.
How to fight back
You can install the Bitacle blocker plugin, but I think Bitacle has been able to update their technology to get past blocker plugins.
However, I think the best way to fight back is to help spread the word about this large-scale splogging. The Stop Bitacle blog has even released a handful of buttons for you to paste on your blog. I think this would be helpful in spreading the word.
If you find your site being scraped, you can also post a warning to readers that they should check their URL fields to see if it’s your site they’re browsing or not. The Stop Bitacle blog has a suggested text here.
Plagiarism Today has some tips on what you can do (and what would and wouldn’t work in such a scenario).
The fight is just beginning.