Official Skate Site is official content thief!

Content theives

In addition to the other hassles of running a semi popular web site, some lowlife is taking content wholesale from Skate and Annoy and reposting it without credit in order to populate a web site with skateboard related Google ads and dupe people into helping him/her make money. It’s a blog template that hasn’t been updated and still has “Company Name” and “Company slogan” as placeholders. It’s kind of flattering to find out some dirtbag thinks your content will help him make money. They are using our RSS feed and randomly sticking in the words “skate”, “video” or “DVD” to get search engine hits from people looking for skate videos. Now there are other scumbags that pull RSS content and pretend it’s theirs as well, but most of them pull bits and pieces from a multitude of sites instead of just copying everything from one site. So I apologize to our RSS feed readers (apparently, there are some legit ones) for the general funkiness of our feed in the last few days. I’ve been trying to combat the content thieves. If you are so inclined, you can find out how after the jump.

The web has quite a few stories of people ripping off RSS feeds and reposting wholesale. They often start with a highly indignant post about how the author contacted the web site and got no reply. I contacted the registrar of Official Skate Site, and of course, got no reply as well. The records are probably filled out falsely to begin with, so Wardell Gates probably isn’t a real person anyway.

I did a quick search on how to combat RSS thieves, and eventually came across a plugin called sig2feed that lets you add a signature to your RSS feed with a link to your site or whatever. I employed it with this:

© SKATE and ANNOY – DIE RSS CONTENT THIEVES!
 

Which is nice, except it might offend people who are legitimately reading the via RSS feed. Also, this particular thief has disabled the links and as you can see, randomly inserts key words. Also, if the post is long, the copyright notice gets cut off.

RSS THIEF

It would be cool if the plugin had the option to insert the signature at the beginning of the post.

Another thing this guy was doing was calling my images directly from his web server. Every time he gets a visitor, it gets charged against Skate and Annoy’s bandwidth. This was easy enough to fix. You can turn off images, which is what I accidentally did for a while, to the irritation of a few of our readers. Then I remembered some simple server configuration you could use to refuse such requests, or more humorously, automatically replace them with another, which is what I did for Official Skate Site:

RSS thieves

This worked for a while, but I think he’s got the images turned off now. Another thing I’ve tried is harassing the offending sites with “knock it off!” comments, but they soon wise up to that and block them. Official Skate Site seems to run a day or two behind live content, so it will be amusing to see if it is 100% automated. If it is, this post will get picked up, which will be amusing, but won’t solve anything. To add insult to injury, I’m now getting Google alerts about the offending sites with my own content highlighted!

Short of turning off my RSS feed for a week, I’m not sure what to try next. If anyone has any ideas, that would be swell.

12 Comments

  1. It’s a never ending battle man.

  2. Mitch Wahkhan on October 26, 2007 - Reply

    Your content is being syndicated to the internet, free for anyone to repurpose. I would almost bet that your feed can be found intact on any blog search site on the web. You can waste your time, energy and the chance of losing any readership you might already have, or you could just let it slide and enjoy the extra links these sites are generating for you.

    I do think it is interesting that you have linked twice to the Official Skate Site, not only using keyword rich anchor tags, but also not utilizing nofollow, thus helping those sites become better indexed, as well as receive link juice from your site. For someone with so many complaints, you seem to be doing a great job helping the spammers.

    Maybe you should use your extra time to read up on SEO?

  3. Yeah, all those extra links are sure swell. I’m sure I’m getting a quality audience there… I had a feeling someone would bring up the linking to the sites ripping us off, but a couple links aren’t going to make that guy any money.

    Anyway, It’s all worth it just so I can post this:

    http://officialskatesite.com/videos-skate/official-skate-site-is-skateboard-video-skating-video-clips-official-content-thief.html

  4. You’re basically the Perez Hilton of skating, Randy.

  5. Sadly… yes. But I think he’s actually making money. I’ve even used him as a source.

  6. Danimalcki on October 26, 2007 - Reply

    yeah kilwag, you should just accept people stealing from your site, you should also accept all spam because its there whether you like it or not, you should also let tigard search your bags because they want to, why bother fighting these jerks? (sarcasm)

  7. dude you don’t know how to code. It’s

  8. This sucks, Kilwag. I have seen this happen with my RSS feed on one of my non-skateboarding sites. I wish there was a way to deny and RSS feed by IP address or something.

    People will spend an aweful lot of effort to rip off content. Why don’t they use that effort and create their own stuff?

    If he keeps leeching your images your should pull a bait-and-switch and hit him with some Goatse or something. 😀 I love the page where he is stealing your post about how he is a scumbag. too funny.

  9. you can configure your website to not allow hotlinking. it’s theft, plain and simple. if your images are in http://www.coolsite.com/images, make an text file with info from the link below:

    http://www.icyphoenix.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2412

    save it as an .htaccess file and upload it to your images directory. make the ‘nohotlink’ photo something like tubgirl or nasty.

  10. Yup. Just change the name of your image and replace it with a nice message to his readers. That way it will post up instead of the image he’s hot linking to.

    Something like, “If you want to really see these images come to skateandannoy.com”

  11. I’d like to exchange links with your site thanks Mike

    http://www.friscoskateboards.com

  12. Goon Filter on November 4, 2007 - Reply

    Wow. An online skate junk merchant wants to push and sells his wears through a free link to his crappy site via SnA. What a great idea.

    What’s up with the Frisco name and logo being based out of Scottsdale, Arizona? Beat it kook!

    http://www.whois.net/whois_new.cgi?d=friscoskateboards&tld=com

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