Monday, June 21, 2010

Splog Happens

GeneaBloggers has alerted us to the newest splog attack in the following articles, SplogAlert - Violating Copyright and RootsFeed Update. Thank you Thomas, I was one of those who found my material and MORE on this site!

I was not familiar with, I did not authorized the use of my copyrighted work on their website, nor did I authorized the use of the name, footnoteMaven. I did, however, get them to remove my work and my name immediately and I will share with you how I accomplished that.

What is a splog? It is a spam blog or web site in the same vein as spam email. Splogs generally contain no original content. Their content is mainly links or "acquired" posts from legitimate blogs. also co-opts the names of the legitimate bloggers using a posted by notice at the end of the "acquired" post. (See below.) Searching for the legitimate bloggers' sites and names will direct you to's site. Their purpose is to game the search engines to inflate their page rank with the search enginges and generate ad revenue.

As a legitimate blogger, being associated with spam is damaging to your reputation. has some degree of insulation from our community as they use a privacy protection service. Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. provides its contact information while keeping the names, email, and physical address of private. As you can see, this privacy protection service is just down the street from me, I'm so ashamed. I called them and was instructed to send any inquiries to the email below.

Administrative Contact:
Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc.
Whois Agent (
Fax: +1.4259744730
PMB 368, 14150 NE 20th St - F1
Bellevue, WA 98007

When I became aware that my content was on this splog, there was no way to contact the owner of the site to request removal. In the GeneaBlogger's Update it appears that has added a contact form. But a contact form is a private communication between you and the still unknown site owner. I'm not saying don't use it. Please do! Inundate them with requests to remove your content. Take all of the advice contained in the GeneaBlogger's articles.

However, I did something that facilitated the removal of my content immediately. had added the ability to comment on my content on its opening page. So, I commented. An in your face comment. I told them they were not authorized to use my name in their posted by, my content on their site, or my copyrighted images. I told them to remove all immediately.

The comments are moderated, but they had to take the time to read mine and it certainly wasn't something they wanted appearing on their home page. They removed my content, a 404 error now appears. So even if you fill out the contact form, please comment. Make their life difficult. Get in their face. How successful can their site be with a ton of 404 error message pages?

I love the response received by one of our community and posted on GeneaBloggers. It read:

Your posts were removed from the site this past Saturday. Rootsfeed did not violate your copyright. At no time did we publish in its entirety any article from your website, nor did we ever take attribution for any article. We posted an excerpt from the article with a link back to your site, which is completely legal.


(Emphasis Added)

Never take legal advice from the owner of a splog, as they obviously have no understanding of what is or is not completely legal. I have a suggestion for, consult an attorney prior to declaring what is completely legal.

Let's take a look at their response and what considers to be "Fair Use" and what I consider to be infringement.

One of the rights accorded to me as the owner of copyrighted work "acquired and used by" is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce my work. As noted, I did not authorize the use of my name or copyrighted work to

Copyright is not without its limitations and the doctrine of fair use is one of the important limitations. Development of the doctrine of fair use is the result of a substantial number of court decisions that have been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, Section 107, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. merely posted an excerpt from a post on this blog. They included no criticism, comment, research or educational comment of their own. The information was not included in a scholarly article or any type of a news article. This was not a fair use.

Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes -'s purpose is commercial only. It is to increase page rank and ad revenue.
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work - this deals mainly with factual work as opposed to fictional. Here my post was clearly expressive rather than factual.
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole - The less you take, the more likely that your copying will be excused as a fair use. But here took the heart of my work, the portion where I set the stage.
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work - it could damage my page rank depriving me of income and damaging my reputation by association.
So let's look at's response again:

--At no time did we publish in its entirety any article from your website

There are no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

--nor did we ever take attribution for any article

Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

--link back to your site

See above. The original link back is a round robin taking you to another of the pages. Two clicks for the price of one.

--which is completely legal.

You be the judge. Completely legal, I think not.


Anonymous Tamura Jones said...

Last year, when @webringgenealogy / genealogywebspaces copied & pasted one of my pages, he and gave me lots of BS, until I contacted their host informing them that WebRing had not complied with my takedown notice yet, and I demanded that they do so. Only when I did that, did they take the stolen content down.

It seems to me that RootsFeed is in violation of Verve Hosting's Acceptable Use Policy:

June 21, 2010 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 22, 2010 at 5:11 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I went to check out Rootsfeed after seeing your article and Dick Eastman's and found this:

Not very professional on their part, but they were to begin with...

June 22, 2010 at 5:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 22, 2010 at 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 22, 2010 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger DearMYRTLE said...

I work through about 10 such "news aggregating" or fake genealogy blogging sites. They steal our genealogy blog content to supposedly legitimize the fact that they have tons of ads and click-throughs to genealogy sites and products.

COMMENTS have now been turned off, so THAT isn't a way to communicate. We shall see what happens when I use their CONTACT CGI script on the website to express my views to the owner of RootsFeed.

Who needs RootsFeed when we have Google, etc.?

June 22, 2010 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 22, 2010 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Cynthia Shenette said...

Dear footnoteMaven,

Thank you so much for your article on splogs. I'm a "newbie" to blogging and had never heard of the term. I am fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, all too aware of it now. After I read your article I decided to see if I had been splogged. To my surprise I had been splogged and more than once! In fact one splogger listed my postings from the entire month of June, without attaching my name or blog name to any of the entries! When I contacted the splogger to be removed from the offending site, he said, "btw, i ussualy put a source link if i use it." Well, I feel better now, not. Thanks again for your informative article.

June 23, 2010 at 5:38 AM  
Blogger Nikki - Notes of Life said... website now seems to be down, so it sounds like their hosting company may have taken the website down.

I've had people take entire posts at re-post them on their blog/website... and at one point somebody tried to sell my photos on Ebay (twice!). As I work in the web & print industry, I always threaten to contact their hosting company to get their website removed (as the posts no doubt violate their hosting terms anyway).

Which reminds me of a time when somebody copied my website design/layout and just changed their name (they'd left the images linking back, which is how I found them)... I didn't even bother attempting them, I simply contacted their hosting company and the website was taken down in a matter of hours.

Great article! :)

June 26, 2010 at 12:27 PM  

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