I recently caught, using google alerts, yet another plagiarist who had stolen things I had written online. Although articles I write about tea are the primary target for plagiarism by spammers, this time, the spammer had taken the text from a review I had written on Amazon.com. I looked up the domain host of the website, which was a .TK domain, and emailed both their copyright and abuse departments, with the following message:
Dear Abuse / Copyright Departments:
The following site is a spam blog:
[REMOVED FOR PRIVACY]
It is stealing content from amazon.com reviews and discussions. I
found some of my content stolen:
[REMOVED FOR PRIVACY]
Please shut this site down. Thanks.
I received a reply the same day, less than three hours later:
Dot TK is the exclusive registry for the
Country Code Top Level Domain for the island
of Tokelau (also known as "ccTLD").
Dot TK (.TK) registers domain names globally,
through our services Free Domain and Paid Domain.
As your email alerts us to
unacceptable content by a holder of a Dot TK domain, I
have researched the case. The user is in
fact a Free Domain registrant, therefore
because of the violation, the domain has
been cancelled and the registrant has been
removed from our database.
Thank you for your assistance & I apologise for any
offense or inconvenience caused.
With Kind Regards,
Dot TK Support
I was impressed by the quick response from the Dot TK Support team, and I have left this experience feeling empowered, which is why I am writing this post to encourage others to pursue and crack down on spammers. It only takes minutes or seconds to look up a host and send a brief email to the copyright and/or abuse departments of the relevant company. There are different companies one can target:
- The domain host
- The web host, if it is different from the domain host
- Any ad host, if the site is serving ads (I.e. Google AdSense)
- Search engines, if the site is ranking high in search results and drawing traffic away from more legitimate sites.
No company wants to support unethical or spammy practices. I also have had luck shutting down a number of other spam blogs, including ones that have stolen my articles about tea. I have had luck in some cases with the domain hosts, like in this case, the web host, especially when it is a free blogging platform like wordpress.com, and I have also succeeded at getting Google Adsense terminated on sites where I did not get anywhere sending complaints to the domain or web host. I have also seen sites removed from Google's search results after I have submitted spam reports to Google search. I chose this example because it was powerful and encouraging, but in the past months, I have seen dozens of spam blogs shut down or excluded from various rankings and services, shortly following my complaints.
Although spam blogs and plagiarists can seem like an insurmountable problem, as spammers can set up a new site in minutes and use automated programs to scrape content and modify the text so it is harder to detect as being from the original source, it also only takes minutes to shut spammers down. When someone's hosting account, advertising account, or other accounts are terminated, it is a permanent setback, often affecting all of the spammer's websites, not just the one you targetted. Pursuing plagiarists and spammers is one activity that is worth the investment of time it takes.