Bitacle: A Plan for Action

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.

Update: PT reader Maria was very gracious and translated one of mynon-DMCA stock Web host contacts into Spanish (text file). This might be able to be used to contact Bitacle’s host, linked above

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.

Conclusions

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.

 

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14 Responses to Bitacle: A Plan for Action

  1. JB says:

    Randy,

    You can get them removed for violating OTHER Adsense TOS rules, but not for violating Copyright. If you can prove the site is spamming or created just for Adsense, you can get it cut that way. However, ALL COPYRIGHT COMPLAINTS must be sent in DMCA format.

  2. [...] PlagiarismToday: Bitacle: A Plan for Action [...]

  3. The part about reporting to Google AdSense is untrue. I’ve seen countless accounts terminated after I report them and ask others to do the same on the Destroy All Malware blog.

  4. JB says:

    Randy,

    You can get them removed for violating OTHER Adsense TOS rules, but not for violating Copyright. If you can prove the site is spamming or created just for Adsense, you can get it cut that way. However, ALL COPYRIGHT COMPLAINTS must be sent in DMCA format.

  5. [...] *UPDATE*: Plagiarism Today – Bitacle: A Plan for Action is a great step-by-step action plan for responding and fighting back against bitacle. Since bitacle is based in Spain, they have also provided a Spanish translation of the DMCA form letter to send to them in their own language. [...]

  6. [...] The IntarWub’s still buzzing about the bitacle thing and there’s quite some useful stuff on how to do something about sploggers to be found. Also, check out Lorelle’s take on the subject. Here’s a message from the true warriors against bitacle: In the meantime, I’m changing my feeds to summary excerpts, sorry about that.. And: los gente de bitacle son ijos de puta (I like to say these things in a language that people understand ) These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  7. [...] Plagiarism Today has some tips on what you can do (and what would and wouldn’t work in such a scenario). [...]

  8. [...] Find out why, and STOP BITACLE! PlagiarismToday ยป Bitacle: A Plan for Action Everyone is upset about Bitacle. That much is understood. [...]

  9. [...] I’m going to keep a lid on the rest of the detail regarding this notice. I don’t wish to tip my hand to Bitacle and enable them to take measures to guard against it. However, I outlined much of what I’m doing previously. [...]

  10. [...] No doubt some of you might think that by stopping blogging, I’m letting the ‘sploggers’, as they’re called, win. I don't feel that way. I’m not going to just lie down and take this – I may stop blogging but I’m going to fight to help ensure that this bullshit stops. I’ve already started doing what I can to make my voice heard and you can too, even if you aren’t personally affected by this. Andrea over at Little Bald Doctors has written a very informative post about this subject and has gotten some great advice in her comments section on how you can go about protecting your blog content and what you can do to make your voice heard. Blog Antagonist has also written excellent, informative posts on the subject and you can find even more information here and here. [...]

  11. [...] There are some things you can do to protect your content (lots of details here and here and here). One of the major things you can do is set your blog to only send a few lines of your content in your feed. Have you noticed that you can only read a line or two of my posts in bloglines? In WordPress, that’s controlled under Options -> Reading -> Syndication Feeds – set to Summary. This actually appears to be effective, since the main feeds of my new blog are not appearing in bitacle. They were getting the Comments feed, which I have disabled. [...]

  12. [...] Plagiarism Today – A Plan for Action [...]

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