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  1. #1
    Affiliate Network Rep Louis's Avatar
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    Copied Content - Where do we draw the line?
    Hi Everyone,

    A while back, we started manually reviewing every affiliate application that came into the network, in an effort to keep out affiliates that were using false information on their accounts (since this has proven to be an early indicator of sketchy behavior).

    One of the recent trends I've noticed is affiliates applying with sites that are actually a carbon copy of another site, down to the privacy policy and site map. The affiliate details will be correct, and the affiliate does actually own the domain, but they've completely ripped off someone elses' business model and design. Often they've just done a find and replace with all the instances of the mention of the original URL (once you see these enough, they become easy to spot, and you can usually catch them by googling some of the content in the about us or the privacy policy).

    My question to the forum is, should these types of sites be allowed to promote in the network?

    We've been rejecting their applications under the principle that this is copyright infringement, but if I may play devil's advocate, everyone borrows to some extent or another on the web, so perhaps we're drawing an artificial distinction.

    Is there some amount of copied content that is permissible?

    Curious to know your thoughts.
    Louis Deering | Affiliate Manager / Network Rep.
    [URL=http://www.shareresults.com/index.php]Share Results - Affiliate Programs For Selective eCommerce Merchants[/URL]
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  2. #2
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    You have to draw the line somewhere, otherwise you're either allowing everything or allowing nothing and neither of those approaches is fair and reasonable.

    Lawyers get paid a lot of money to twiddle the details on these issues but I don't think it's terribly difficult to discern the difference between a rewrite and wholesale theft of content.

  3. #3
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    Louis - they've completely ripped off someone elses' business model and design
    You're not drawing an artificial distinction. If you were able to see it was a copy of an other website, it means it was obvious.
    The answer is clear, a copied website (in part or full) should not be allowed in a network. You have to think of the original creator of the site, believe me he (she) will appreciate your action.

  4. #4
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    You have to think of the original creator of the site
    Spot on.. I only wish every merchant/network was this diligent. I've spent more hours than I can count trying to eliminate/ban scrapers, and I'm sure I haven't found the half of it. I'm in this business trying to earn revenue on my OWN original content. Ideas & words that belong to me.. for which there is no artificial distinction.

    Content theft is a huge problem, and you should be applauded for your approach!

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Louis - Are you referring to publishers that have a bunch of articles on the site, ripped from elsewhere? Are these also publishers who get paid via PayPal or direct deposit, and not to the address on file? Does the address on file and on the whois (in the case of a non-private registration) actually exist?

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    I don't think they should be allowed and wouldn't approve them either. I see a lot of sites who use articles from other sites (like article submission sites) without credit to the author. If the article site requires this, I don't approve them. They're pretty easy to spot anymore. If the affiliate is clearly doing something wrong, why would you want to work with them?
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  7. #7
    Affiliate Network Rep Louis's Avatar
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    Hi Joshua,

    I'm referring to publishers who actually have copied the entire layout of a site, including it's themes, content, and design. Though it varies from case to case, many of the times these sites use real contact information, but almost every time they use paypal.

    What I've been generally doing is sending an email to both the "copier" and to the owner of the copied site suggesting that they discuss the issue, since I'm sure most publishers would prefer to know this type of behavior is going on. However, since we've already kicked them out of the network, it's hard to go much further towards getting them to pull down the site.

    TO ALL - Glad to hear you agree with me about protecting the owner of the real site!

    Copying an article or maybe a navigation bar is one thing -- stealing an entire business model is another.
    Louis Deering | Affiliate Manager / Network Rep.
    [URL=http://www.shareresults.com/index.php]Share Results - Affiliate Programs For Selective eCommerce Merchants[/URL]
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  8. #8
    Full Member Greywolf's Avatar
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    I admire your efforts and agree that site ripoff is bad business practice. But this type of thing also happens all of the time in the bricks and mortar world. Just think walmart and k-mart. Names have similar theme, stores sell mostly same stuff, similar layout, pricing strategy, etc. Walmart is killing them though because they execute better.

    Yes it sucks if you are being ripped off, but if you can out execute them I think you'll still win.

    Trivia: who came first, K-Mart or Wal-Mart?

  9. #9
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    But this type of thing also happens all of the time in the bricks and mortar world
    I get what you're saying, but this is quite a different situation. It still costs money to build B&M stores with the same layout, to stock the shelves with the same products.

    All it takes is one programmer to rip off my ENTIRE site - and it costs next to nothing. Very different situation.

    Someone can steal my site/updated content daily. It's theft, not strategy.

  10. #10
    Full Member Greywolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teezone
    I get what you're saying, but this is quite a different situation. It still costs money to build B&M stores with the same layout, to stock the shelves with the same products.

    All it takes is one programmer to rip off my ENTIRE site - and it costs next to nothing. Very different situation.

    Someone can steal my site/updated content daily. It's theft, not strategy.
    point taken

  11. #11
    Affiliate Network Rep Louis's Avatar
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    Does anyone know what Google's stance is with regards to this type of copied content?

    Can it damage the ranking of the original site owner?
    Louis Deering | Affiliate Manager / Network Rep.
    [URL=http://www.shareresults.com/index.php]Share Results - Affiliate Programs For Selective eCommerce Merchants[/URL]
    [email=louis@shareresults.com][I]Ask about our software solutions[/I][/email]

  12. #12
    Member niche's Avatar
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    I have seen one of my websites copied on two other site. I mean word for word and it is annoying
    Should you ban these people from your network?

    i think yes
    If they are unscrupulous enough to copy someone else's website I dread to think how low they will stoop when promoting your products
    [URL="http://www.affiliatemarketingintro.com"]Affiliate Marketing Basics[/URL]

  13. #13
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    Louis - Does anyone know what Google's stance is with regards to this type of copied content?
    If we were in a perfect world Google would penalize the duplicate content and leave the original alone. That's what Google would like to do but it's not always true. Quite often, both sites are penalized.

  14. #14
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    I have renewed faith in google after reporting a nasty scraper to them (the type that redirects umpteen domains back to their own; they were an affiliate of some of my stores too).

    When I searched for my sitemap, you could clearly see it in their search results. I submitted a request under Webmaster Tools ("Report spam in our index"), in less than a week, the domain was GONE from google. This post reminded me to check - the domain is still gone (with 0 backlinks), and Alexa shows they went from 500,000 down to 2,000,000.

    If you are being copied & concerned about the rankings, get in touch with google. It worked for me.

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Georgie Peri's Avatar
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    Exclamation
    If its the same person, with multiple domains & similar content

    I think thats ok ..


    ~~~

    If its someone copying someone elses site word for word, I think thats horrid and shouldnt be allowed at all !

  16. #16
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magi
    If its the same person, with multiple domains & similar content

    I think thats ok ..


    ~~~


    If its someone copying someone elses site word for word, I think thats horrid and shouldnt be allowed at all !
    It's not only horrid, it's a blatant criminal act. Because copyright infringement is criminal, an affiliate that scrapes/copies another site not be allowed in any program.
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  17. #17
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    I actually had this happen a couple weeks ago. I happened to know the "original" designer and sent that affiliate an email letting them know of the plagarized site and asked what he wanted me to do and make sure he was aware of it.

    He had used the original site in an online affiliate tutorial seminar that he had done on buildling a site and was okay with me accepting the copycat site, so with his permission I did. I was on the fence about it, but since he was okay with it I went ahead. It will be interesting to watch which site actually drives more traffic, if any from the copy cat site.

    You might contact the original site owner and see how they want you to proceed. I know the one I contacted was greatful that I was watching out for that kind of stuff and would take the time to contact him.

  18. #18
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    This is sort of like "A thief shows up to work at my company. Do I hire them?" Not unless you want thieves working for you.

    Hats off to you for going to the extra effort in detecting them. Now, go one small extra step, and send an email to the rightful owners of the content so they can file DMCAs and take other action. That would be a great service to us all. Someone emailed me once about some blatant copying by someone pedaling my free content as their own "ebook" on ebay. I complained to ebay and shortly afterward ebay discontinued ebooks as allowed products. My complaint probably helped a little. Taking action against wrong acts is always a good thing.
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  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    It is such a nuisance when this happens, as if we don't have enough time trying to work on our sites that we still have to chase after these copycat criminals. I hate them. I specifically have a copyright on each page with a special note also NOT to copy or reproduce. Na-ah. They still do it. Pics and content. I go after them. I have used lawyers, contacted ISPs, waved the DMCA, contacted ebay, Google, etc. It helps but such a hassle.

    One person also copied pics from my site for their ebook and Ebay had them take them down right away. They still sold ebooks for a while but had to constantly keep a watch. Another one I had to use a lawyer and that website is now 404-ed. I am thinking about buying that domain. Ahhh... how sweet revenge is. lol.

  20. #20
    Full Member TerriFalcone's Avatar
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    The only thing a merchant can do is reject them. If they had been accepted and then discovered you can also give them negative feedback. Merchants have neither the time or money to bring them to justice and frankly the person they stole the design and content from doesn't have a much better shot. The only thing we can do is be on the look-out and make sure that they do not profit from that behavior...at least not with OUR program.
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  21. #21
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    If someone is copying someone else's site exactly, they're unlikely to draw a lot of traffic, as the site will be viewed by the search engines as duplicate content.

    That being the case, the likely won't make a lot of sales.

    I occasionally buy products with resale rights that come with pre-built Web pages. I always change the content just so the search engines won't think it's the same page that everyone else has.

    Bottom line: Anyone who copies someone else's site is lazy and won't sell your product, anyway. I wouldn't bother with them.

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  22. #22
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greywolf
    ...

    Trivia: who came first, K-Mart or Wal-Mart?
    Good one! Depending on where you look, most sites say both started in 1962 (July 2, 1962 for K-Mart and unknown for Wal-Mart). However, PBS.org has an article that says K-Mart was founded in 1899...

    Tell us the answer, Greywolf!

    As for copy-cats - can them, ban them, report them if you are able...

  23. #23
    Affiliate Network Rep Louis's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input here everyone!

    We'll stick with what we've been doing:

    If it's clearly a rip off of another site, we ban the publisher and, if we can find contact for the owner, send them a message alerting them to the copied content. From there it's up to them.

    We also always let the original publisher know why they were kicked out as well.. who knows, maybe they'll learn from their mistake

    Coincidentally, I actually have had some of the original publishers join because of this!!
    Louis Deering | Affiliate Manager / Network Rep.
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  24. #24
    Full Member Greywolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence
    Good one! Depending on where you look, most sites say both started in 1962 (July 2, 1962 for K-Mart and unknown for Wal-Mart). However, PBS.org has an article that says K-Mart was founded in 1899...

    Tell us the answer, Greywolf!

    As for copy-cats - can them, ban them, report them if you are able...
    you're right, both of the names were hatched in 1962, but "Walton's" was started in the mid 50s, and renamed Wal-mart in 1962.

    I'm actually amazed that K-mart doesn't try and copy Walmart more. The K-mart in my town is like a morgue; very depressing to go there. Walmart is too crowded; making money hand over fist.

    I REALLY like Target, but Walmart is kicking their butt too. I can't figure that one out.

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