I took down PCwilleasy.co.cc! There, I’ll admit to it. I am the one who did it. I know this might disappoint the 1500 followers the pcwilleasy Twitter account still has, but it was for everybody’s best.
Here’s the why:
PCwilleasy was a copyright infringing site. It copied articles word for word from legitimate sites and often displayed the images, hotlinking them from the original sites. This is sometimes referred to as blog scraping. This cost the original author’s bandwidth without the trade-off of credit for their work or visitors finding their sites. This could negatively impact their reputations as their articles were surrounded with other advertisements and articles not to mention the terrible English. ‘PC will easy when you come here‘? Ok, whatever you say.
Copyright infringing sites also steal traffic from the original website which can translate into ad impressions and ad clicks, the typical form of revenue for an author to continue to pay for hosting and domain costs along with compensation for the time to produce quality content. Sites filled with stolen content will also usually have ads on their page to make a profit from all the hard work that other people have done.
After finding a number of my articles reproduced on the PCwilleasy site and finding another article at Raymond.cc that complained about similar violations I decided to take further action. I have previously replaced hotlinked images with messages stating that the article had been stolen with a link to the original. With the number of stolen articles on PCwilleasy this measure seemed too time-consuming.
And here’s the how:
I first wrote up a standard form letter. Something like this:
I write to inform you that the following webpages are in violation of the copyright held by Freewaregenius.com. Articles have been duplicated without giving credit by pcwilleasy.co.cc. Content of each article has been copied word for word and images still link back to the original server (site URL), stealing bandwidth, traffic, and reputation. Please comply with the copyright and do not condone the violation by removing access to these sites:
[List of URLs to infringing articles]
The original articles can be found at:
[List of URLs to matching original articles]
After sending this e-mail to the webmaster of PCwilleasy and as a comment on the site and receiving no reply or compliance, I tried sending the e-mail to several other involved companies that had abuse policies. There are a number of companies involved in hosting a website and I was hoping they would agree that the copyright violation was obvious and unmistakable as an infringement against the DMCA rights of the original sites. Since the ad revenue was the main incentive for stealing content, I contacted the ad company showing ads on the site, AdToll. They quickly replied and agreed there was a violation. They then changed it so that no monetary compensation would be given for ad views or clicks and would shortly stop displaying ads.
Since the process seemed largely automated at this point, even a few days after the ads had been taken down, articles from around the web were still being copied. I then contacted the hosting site which I found through DNS tools (a similar method as Raymond.cc listed in the article linked to above) and e-mailed them a copy of the form letter. I heard no response from them either. After this I contacted the domain registrant company for .co.cc domains and reported the abuse through their spam or abuse form. I never heard a reply, but shortly after I visited the site again, only to be redirected to a co.cc page listing the domain as available.
By and large, I think this has temporarily stopped the stealing of articles, but I’m sure another site will pop up in its place. At that time, we’ll have to take down the site for the sake of all the authors who are affected by these copyright infringing sites.
These are the basic steps that I took and can be repeated whenever a legitimate complaint arises.
- Create a standard form letter that lists all copyright violations.
- Contact the site owner and request the articles be removed.
- Notify other authors that are also having their content lifted.
- Contact the hosting company.
- Contact the ad company.
- Contact the domain host.
As .co.cc domains are free for personal use, the domain is likely just a cover for another URL. These steps should provide a little bit of downtime from article theft and make the original thief have to spend their time promoting a new URL.
Do you have any experience with another site stealing your content? Did you have any luck fighting it?
Do you have any other steps you would recommend in the process?
Do you know of any other sites that are currently stealing content?