Everyone is upset about Bitacle. That much is understood.
No one likes the fact that they are scraping content, providing only weak attribution and then surrounding it with ads, in violation of both copyright law and (most) Creative Commons Licenses.
The noise has produced a lot of attention to the issue, but not a lot or results to date. As of this writing, Bitacle is still scraping content for commercial purposes without permission.
Though education and information are well and good, the time has come to act and act in a coordinated manner. If the aggrieved bloggers work together and act in lockstep, we can stop Bitacle.
However, it will take some work.
What Won’t Work
Before we get into what can work, we have to look at what will never work. There are several steps others have taken that have not produced any results. Here’s why:
- Legal Threats: Several sites have talked about or threatened legal action against Bitacle. This is sadly a waste of time. Bitacle is located in Spain, at least according to their Whois information (information that could be false) and any suit would have to be filed on their turf. Unless you’re a major corporation and have significant resources, such a suit is almost impossible and the threats are transparent. Bitacle will see through that easily.
- Reports to Google Adsense: Simply clicking the “Ads by Google” link will do no good. Not only has Bitacle changed the language of their Google Ads to make that harder, but Google will not respond to copyright notices sent in via that method. They have legal and business reasons for doing that.
- DMCA Notices/Host Contacts: Though it might be possible to contact Bitacle’s host, which appears to be a Spanish site, a reply is unlikely unless you write the letter and Spanish and have an understanding of what their law is on these matters. Though, as a part of the EU, there is an obligation to remove infringing material, specifics seem to vary from country to country at this time.
If you look at that list, the situation seems to be pretty hopeless. However, it is far from that. There are at least two constructive steps that those who have been infringed can take.
What Can Work
The goal of the situation is not so much to remove the works directly but to force Bitacle to give up scraping. Through direct removal is always preferred, mended ways can be just as effective.
Here is what everyone who is being scraped by Bitacle should do as soon as possible:
- DMCA Adsense:Though the DMCA doesn’t make a direct reference to Advertising networks, Adsense does accept DMCA notices. Though you have to fax or mail in a physically signed copy, it can be done. See below for a stock DMCA notice.
- DMCA Google/MSN/Yahoo: Sploggers want the attention of the search engines. Filing a DMCA notice with Google, Yahoo and MSN can negate that effect. Though you can only file notices for your own content, if enough are received there’s a good chance that the entire domain will be banned from the search engines.On that note, it shouldn’t take too many, just more than what any legitimate site would receive.
Those two steps will eliminate the benefit of Bitacle using scraped content and force them to change their ways or be put out of business. While it is not as neat as a regular DMCA notice, it can be very effective.
To aid in this process I am providing my personal stock DMCA notice (text file) for use. The notice is a hodgepodge of various DMCA notices, including the ones I link to in my Contacting The Host section of the site and has been vetted by at least three lawyers. It is also accepted by Google so long as the handwritten signature is applied.
Also note that, when filing with the Google search engine, you need to offer search queries with each link. You can do that by making the query a unique phrase in your post in quotes. Be sure to follow the directions on the link above and, if you want to email you notice to the Google search engine team, not Adsense, follow the directions on my site.
Also note that you have to name each work individually by title, infringing link (with query for Google search) and original link. If there are too many works, do a notice with ten to twenty links and then repeat until you get all of them removed.
The goal is to get enough people to report enough links, that the search engines and Adsense drop Bitacle altogether, forcing them to retreat.
Because it’s obvious that simple verbal pressure will not change anything and that Bitacle has decided to turn completely to the dark side in dealing with these matters.
We have to act with one hand in order to resolve this for good.
In a moment of irony, the one person who I know that will definitely not be filing such a notice is me. Bitacle has not, yet, scraped any of my content. Whether it’s an act of self-preservation or just sheer luck, not one post of mine has wound up on their site.
All I can do is help provide guidance and hope that others follow through on it. The matter is truly in your hands. I trust that everyone will do what it takes to bring this to an end.
Disclaimer: Remember, I am not a lawyer and this is NOT legal advice.