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This Saturday afternoon, I saw a post on twitter announcing and linking to my most recent SCN blog post – but not on SCN, but on the front page of a pirate site, ill-formatted and without naming me as the author of the work. Having just put several days of work into this blog post, I was outraged about my content being pirated, and I still am.

Looking more closely, I noticed that plenty of material – 1,300 blogs, wiki entries and even large parts of the SAP Library (official SAP documentation) – was stolen from SCN and illegally reproduced on the site.

I checked out a number of things:

  1. Is this an SAP web site? No, it isn’t, although a spoofed WHOIS entry tries to pretend it is.
  2. What do the SCN Terms of Service say about this? I looked them up at http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/policy. They state that SAP may change, republish etc. my blogs and do anything they like with it, but nobody else is allowed to do that. They remain my intellectual property and anyone wishing to reproduce them has to ask my permission.
  3. Who else was hurt? Plenty of bloggers from the SCN community and SAP itself.
  4. Who is behind the rogue site? That’s hard to find out. They sport no impressum, and the WHOIS information is fake. At first I suspected the person who had tweeted the link but now I think they have nothing to do with it. The owner of the rogue site is hidden.
  5. Why do they do it? There are Google ads on the site, which generates money for the owners of the site each time somebody visits it. So they steal our content, which we publish to the community for free in order to participate in an open exchange of knowledge and ideas, so that our intellectual property may generate cash for them. Isn’t that lovely?

What can we do?

After my rather expletive initial tweet, several members of the SCN community joined in, helped clarify the situation, and took action. We hashtagged the discussion #blogtheft.

  • SAP mentor Jim Spath (@jspath55) quickly notified SAP legal and located the server in California through a traceroute. He has blogged about it (“Don’t You Step on My…”) and keeps pressing the matter in the SAP mentor forum.
  • SAP mentor Anne K Petterøe (@yojibee) contributed a contact to an intellectual properties lawyer described as especially vicious, blood-thirsty, and successful.
  • Jan Penninkhof (@jpenninkhof) had the idea to file a copyright violation complaint versus the site to Google ads. It might dry out the cash flow and also they should know who their contract partner – the mysterious owner of the web site – is.
  • I filed a complaint to Google AdSense (and so can you if they reproduced your stuff: https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=9894).
  • I contacted the aforementioned vicious, blood-thirsty IP lawyer and described the case to her in an email (but haven’t heard back from her yet).
  • Mark Yolton (@MarkYolton) and Chip Rodgers (@chiprodgers) from the SCN team have also contacted SAP legal and are behind the case.
  • I just found out through a Google search that http://technorati.com/ links to the pirate web site, and will notify them about the nature of the site.

(Disclaimer: Surely I have forgotten or missed other contributions to the case. That’s in the nature of twitter, which makes it hard to trace or reconstruct conversation threads. Sorry!)

What can you do?

If you have blogged or contributed to the wiki or forums, find out if you’re also being stolen from, and fight it tooth and nail.

  • Google your material – not by using your name, but by using rare and unique phrases from your work as search queries.
  • Contact the owners of any web site reproducing your material without consents, and demand that they take it down.
  • File complaints to their internet provider and any business partners – such as Google AdSense – you can identify.
  • If you find links pointing to the rogue site on other web sites (using the “link:” function in your Google search), notify them that they are linking to illegal content.
  • Try to get legal help from a lawyer.
  • If your material was originally published on SCN, notify the SCN team and join the #blogtheft discussion on twitter.

Next steps

Currently, all I can do is wait. We have got several irons in the fire: SAP legal, vicious IP lawyer, Google AdSense complaint. I hope that one of them will turn out to be the hammer that smacks down the #blogthieves.

Post Scriptum

If you see this blog anywhere else but on http://www.sdn.sap.com/, you’re seeing a pirated copy. Please appreciate the irony of the situation before notifying me. This blog was written by Thorsten Franz and published exclusively on SAP Community Network. 

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9 Comments

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  1. Jon Reed
    Thorsten, excellent work here. Great game plan for handling such situations. I will make sure this site continued to be monitored also…I don’t like this way of doing business online and am determined to fight it.

    – Jon

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  2. Julius von dem Bussche
    I can’t see these folks stopping short of copy&pasting your Post Scriptum as well without reading it or having a clue about the content…

    We had similar problems in the forums I moderate, and several tactics were applied: Blocking their links via the content filters, retro-flaming their contributions (this worked nicely) and deleting user ID’s found to be involved and not responding to warnings (guestification).

    At the end of the day it is commercial interests and advertizing behind it in my opinion, and the only way to deal with it is to shut them down.

    In the forums we reject a post or ten every day…

    Cheers,
    Julius

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  3. Carsten Kasper
    Hi Thorsten,

    very sad story indeed. I can not stand people making money out of others work.

    This is only another tip:
    You could “watermark” the graphics you use in your blog entries. Something like a big “Stolen from SDN.SAP.COM”. It will make people think when they read the stolen blog. Maybe change their mind to never come back to that site.

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  4. Jon Reed
    By the way, anyone who has Google Webmaster Tools running (which you should if you have your own web site), can file a duplicate content complaint directly with Google that goes to a real person. 🙂
    The direct link is: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport?hl=en

    But you must have webmaster tools to get access to that page. Needless to say I have done so for this site. Check the “duplicate content” checkbox on the form. These folks will go down one way or the other!

    (A number of SAP Mentors are working on addressing this site’s violations also in various ways…hopefully we’ll have good news to report before too long either from our side or from the actions SAP is looking into).

    – Jon

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  5. David Bann
    Good work here – Very proactive – I tried to visit the site and it seems to be down – Hopefully due to yours and others actions to combat the piracy…
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