Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

DMCA Notice Filed against HotBlogsToday

Posted in Blogging,Law,My Blog,SEO,Spam by Elliott Back on October 27th, 2005.

HotBlogsToday was totally ripping off my content, so I filed the following DMCA notice with their hosting provider:

Sender Information:
Elliott Back
1108 Cascadilla Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
1-607-229-0623

Recipient Information:
Administrator
Schlund + Partner AG
Brauerstrasse 48
D-76135 Karlsruhe, Germany
49-721-913-7450

To whom it may concern,

I act on behalf of myself, and am the exclusive owner of the copyright works in question, that is, all of the content and design of my website and blog network, found on elliottback.com and its subdomains. Browsing a server on your network, 217.160.106.16 and the URL www.hotblogstoday.com, I find unauthorized copies of the ElliottBack network material which infringes on my rights as copyright holder:

(list redacted)

The list of copied content continues–many of the 1000+ articles I’ve written have been copied. Please immediately remove or disable all access to the infringing material. This infringing material is not authorized by myself, and this Notice of Copyright is accurate. Under penalty of perjury, I swear that I am authorized to act on behalf of the Owner, which is myself.

Should you require further information, please contact my via any means.

Signed,
Elliott C. Back
10-27-2005

I also sent an email to Adsense:

The Adsense publisher pub-5121418238017619 is running your ads on my content that he has stolen without authorization. I have filed a DMCA notice with his hosting provider, and hope that you will remove the economic incentive for his theft of copyright materials. Compare the original work to the stolen work.

It seems he’s using a homebrew tool to scrape websites he thinks is popular or original enough and then cache them on his server. It’s not very clever, and now he’s going to get burned. For a list of infringing material, just search for Elliott and you’ll see most of the items in that list are from this blog. If he were a US resident, and not based in Israel (?), I would also file a civil suit against him, since this is my primary source of income.

Some interesting facts about this spammer:

Revolution Media Ltd., a Jerusalem based company which provides Internet-centered multimedia services. Revolution Media also operates several e-commerce ventures to promote Israeli products around the world. The company currently employs people and is owned and run by Ulf Diebel, a German immigrant to Israel in 1996.

There’s also (gasp) an entry on ALA about RM:

American-Israeli webmaster Michael Cohen has been coding web pages since 1995. He is currently vice president of the Internet design and hosting company Revolution Media LTD.. During his free time, he enjoys haunting (and administrating) the still-very-much-active Freespace-oriented Hard Light Productions.

According to his resume, he still works there:

Resume for Michael E. Cohen
michaelc@revolutionmedia.com

[...]

Experience

* (Oct. 2001-present) – Webmaster, web page design and site creation for Revolution Media, Ltd.
* [...]

A search for Revolution Media Ltd. turns up more interesting results, a huge list of online business and shops they run. This means that they have assets. Having identifiable assets means that filing civil suit is now profitable, for in the case that you win, you can sieze those assets. I was also able to find a US address:

Revolution Media LTD.
1407 Airport Road
Suite 2271
Monroe, NC 28110
USA

I will consult with some lawyer friends of mine and see what the consensus is, and keep you informed.

Update:

I received the following email from one Alexander Rhodes:

Just stumbled across your post by accident. All of your content has
been taken down, and I’ve set it to no longer fetch from your blog.
Sorry for any inconvenience. (Incidentally, neither I nor Mike work
for Revolution Media anymore).

Alex Rhodes

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make what they are doing any less illegal! It doesn’t matter if they’re mirroring my content in whole, or mirroring some else’s, it’s still a violation of copyright. Just, now I can’t seek remedy because they’ve stopped violating my rights. I write back:

While I appreciate that you’ve stopped violating my copyrights, your action doesn’t really address the larger legal issue. You’re mirroring whole content, slapping advertising on top of it, and aggregating other people labour for your profit. There’s no value added with hotblogstoday. If you were to add value and go to content summaries, you would be in a much better moral and legal position, and perhaps humans and not random search engines would start using your site.

Update 2:

Michael Cohen says he no longer works for Revolution Media and that they’ve been sold off to some other group:

I quit working there on January 31st, 2005, went in for a month of IDF reserves, and joined another organization on March 1st. In the months that followed, Ulf Diebel sold the reolutionmedia.com domain to another company, and moved the business to operate under the umbrella of IsraelShop.com. Therefore, my old email address of michaelc@revolutionmedia.com is no longer valid.

The spam operation continues, however, just without me as a target…

The RSS is CLEAN again

Posted in How to Blog,SEO by Elliott Back on October 7th, 2005.

Putting the Chitika mini-malls on the bottom of ever post in my RSS feed was probably not a wise idea. Besides being incredibly annoying, no one clicked on them anyway! So, I’ve taken them out. Loyal readers may continue escaping the ads intended for search engine visitors by reading my RSS. In case you’re wondering, here’s what the mini-malls look like:

Bloglines Down Again

Posted in Blogging by Elliott Back on August 22nd, 2005.

Yesterday they had a database crash, and today at 10:31 EST bloglines appears to be down again. This is what I got before any sort of “Bloglines Plumber” page was put up:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@bloglines.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

In this regard, while people have been complaining that Technorati works only 75% of the time, I think they should be taking their wrath out on Services (with a big S) that people rely on more, like bloglines or Flickr, that go down. When technorati goes down, sure I can’t search, but if Flickr goes down, all my photos are lost, and bloglines? I’m cut off from communication.

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