Monday, July 13, 2009

DMCA and plagiarism

I broke the law and the law won.

A lot of you noticed that Cyclelicious was down for about three hours earlier today. The reason? A DCMA takedown request for the "Bicycle Taxonomy" page.

I had some licensed copy and artwork on my site that belongs to a website design company. I didn't know it belonged to them, but it is still plagiarism. American hosting providers are required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to take down sites with infringing content.

My feelings were hurt because I know some of the guys involved with this company, including, it turns out, the author of the article. I sent my DMCA response to my host provider with a note that I would remove the offending content, and also contacted my friends at the software company.

The product from this software company is website design software for bike shops to help bike shops create somewhat unique content. This software includes a large library of articles that the bike shop can use.

My friends recently discovered there are a huge number of websites that use their content without permission. A large number of stores are building entire websites based on content they steal from their legitimate retailers. They used to try to work things out with offending sites by sending letters, but nobody ever responded and it proved ineffective. Playing nice, apparently, means you lose out. They now use an automated service that searches for their content online and sends out takedown requests when it finds the plagiarized content.

Since the people at this service want to get paid for their efforts and so their paying customers get value out of their product, they work to keep their copyrighted information limited to whoever pays for it. It was one of their articles that made its way onto my website, hence the takedown. Mea culpa!


  1. That's pretty interesting. I read the cached article you posted on Twitter and thought it was really awesome and funny. The weird thing is that I probably wouldn't have ever found it and read it if you hadn't had this trouble.

  2. ... 'take your hands off the keyboard...put them over your head & back slowly away from the computer, you scofflaw !!!'...

    ...i put up posters w/ a stick-figure crayon drawing i did of you saying "wanted: for plagiarism" in all the local bike shops...

    ...not quite as effective as the fotos of the bike thief in san francisco but, hey, ya do what 'cha can do...