Content Scrapers And Security Blogs

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I saw an interesting post over at Anti-Virus-Rants today, where Kurt Wismer linked to an article regarding content scraping. In essence, the site doing the scraping (Security Ratty) ended up with "Security Ratty is a slimy, content stealing thief" on the front page. I find this interesting, because not so long ago I'd considered doing something similar with one of those fake security spam blog things that lift the content and splatter a ton of adverts on their site, while removing correct attribution.

Instead, I decided to do a little digging and quickly traced it back to a guy running a whole network of various sites, blogs and other networks. However - something didn't seem quite right. For all intents and purposes, he seemed like a normal, legit guy. He had pictures of himself on various portals. He openly advertised his main line of business, which (I think) was something to do with accountancy. There was a personal blog about pet dogs.

Holding fire on the "Here's a post specifically for your scraper site poking fun at you, aren't I clever" post, we found out that the guy had purchased a bunch of ready-to-roll blogs in good faith and had no idea the sites were removing correct attribution (and replacing it with fake names), amongst various other things. Realistically, I didn't expect him to know the ins and outs of all the little details that turned reproduction in good faith into something that just about started to cross the line. A few helpful emails back and forth, and everything was fixed at their end and it didn't snowball into some big stupid argument over nothing.

Coming from an arts background, I'm realistic enough to know that if you put something out there, it's going to get copied and / or republished without your permission (or worse) down the line. That's the risk of publishing material online, and to a large degree, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. The way I see it, you spend the rest of your days on a futile hunt to shut down all the content scrapers, or accept that (at the very least) the information you hope may be of use to somebody will reach and help them in some way.

If it doesn't have my name attached to it, I can live with that - but I'd rather invest my energies in research and writing than a few hours brief "victory" via a slow procession down an RSS feed. I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of the particular case linked to, but for all I know, the scraper site in question is entirely automated and devoid of any real life person manning the controls. If that's the case, the "victory" is rendered almost entirely pointless save for a cool-for-a-while screenshot.

Is that really a good use of time and effort? Personally, I'm more pleased with our behind-the-scenes EMail resolution but different strokes, different folks and all that...


hmmm... you've got the wrong url (you're pointing to a post about comment spam, not the one you're actually referring to)... it's strange, but the security ratty guy had the exact same error on his blog... perhaps he got the link from here...

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This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on July 3, 2008 8:48 AM.

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