Bite Me, Bitacle!

Stop Bitacle.orgI wish I knew how to say that in Spanish because I’d like to say it to the people at Bitacle.org. In case you haven’t encountered it yet, Bitacle is a Spanish website that copies your blog posts wholesale, inserts Google ads, and republishes them on their website. They also provide a comment box and a feed of your content from their server (which is no doubt rife with ads as well) so that readers will never have to visit your blog (though they can if they click on the post title). They call this a service. I call this… well, nevermind what I call it, but it is known as a splog or a scraper, though it sort of transcends both in its sophistication and profitability. Let’s just say it’s the newest internet parasite on the block.

Naturally I complained, and received a response (canned, as it turns out) in Spanish. Ha! It just so happens I know enough Spanish to respond to their B.S. The last e-mail I got told me that it’s a question of whether the glass is half empty or half full, that this is the information age, and that the world just keeps on turning. I have to give them credit for not pretending to be professionals, like, say, the phone company always does when it is stealing from you.

Their excuse for why they are allowed to use my (and everyone else’s) copyrighted material to make money from Google ads is that I publish a feed. That’s like saying that if I publish a book then they have the right to reprint the whole thing with ads inserted into the text (quick, tell Google Book Search!). I’m not buying it.

So, what to do? WordPress people apparently have a way to block Bitacle from their blog. How nice for them. It seems all the rest of us can do is complain. I’ve complained to Typepad (my host), Google AdSense, Google Gmail (since Bitacle uses Gmail (if there are any spambots out there, the addresses are bitacle@gmail.com, info@bitacle.org, and seo@bitacle.org)), as well as the Public Interest Registry (they’re in charge of .org domains, which are supposed to be for non-profits).

Some people have taken it further and submitted formal legal complaints, or written bandwidth-sucking (using Bitacle graphics) anti-Bitacle posts, which were, or course, promptly scraped and published on Bitacle. Heh. I myself left a few, uh, helpful suggestions in the comment section of “my” posts on Bitacle. One blogger has even created a blog to centralize the campaign against them called StopBitacle.org.

There is one more thing we can do to stop Bitacle from cashing in on our content: stop publishing full-post feeds. Obviously this is an unsatisfactory solution, but after thinking about it for a while I’ve decided to try it. When it comes down to it, I don’t blog so that people can anonymously read my posts from their aggregator and never visit my blog or (gasp!) leave a comment. I blog to engage in a conversation, not to lecture to a passive audience. I have over 40 subscribers in Bloglines (big whoop, I know), but who are they? I haven’t a clue. I only get a handful of non-google hits a day. If I publish only excerpts and the mystery readers unsubscribe in disgust, what difference does that make? I’d rather have 5 regular commenters than 50 lurkers.

One of the nifty things about Typepad is that I can write my own feed excerpt, separate from the blog post, so you might see something in your aggregator that looks like “In which Sylvia rhapsodizes tediously about Wagner.” Perhaps if I have some fun with it you all will forgive me for making you come here to read my posts. If not, let me know!

UPDATE: I can’t seem to access my material on Bitacle any more. I don’t know if they’ve locked out my IP address or if a miracle occurred and they removed my content. Would someone out there please go to http://en.bitacle.org/blogs/viewblog/h8ihh0ls0/42 and tell me what is there? Thanks!

UPDATE II: Well well, it seems Bitacle has done something right for a change. I just looked at my posts and they have taken out all the advertising that they inserted into the text. There is still advertising above and below, but no advertising within the posts. ¡Es un milagro! It’s a miracle! Actually, they just got caught in a lie, since they claimed to just post feeds exactly as they come, when they in fact were cutting them up and re-publishing them with advertising included in the text. They are still caught in a lie, though, because they have removed the links from image links, so once again they are “editing” the feed. Strangely enough, the haven’t posted the feed for this post yet…

UPDATE III: I think we’ve got them on the ropes now. Today I noticed that they have removed images from my posts and other posts I checked. That’s great because it means they’re not draining my bandwidth any more. They also seem to have stopped republishing my feed. I don’t know if that’s because of my complaints or because they don’t like excerpts (they seem to prey only on full-post feeds). They still have 43 of my posts archived on their site, but I think it’s safe to say that the bloggers have won this battle!

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13 comments on “Bite Me, Bitacle!

  1. cam says:

    I found one of my posts on a similar splogger site recently. At first I couldn't believe it. Then, I was angry, especially since most of the other posts were reflective of political viewpoints that are opposite of my own. I'm not sure why they picked up my stuff, but they found it. They seem to have dropped me after a few posts, but the idea that someone would do this is astounding!
    Can't you publish only the first few lines of your post? I find that when a blogger does that, it allows me the opportunity to scan the first several words and then decide if I want to read it now or flag for later. I like that option. Though, a description of your blog as you suggested could work similarly too.

  2. Sylvia says:

    Yes, I can publish any size excerpt, as well as a custom excerpt (which I did for this post).
    A while back I was being scraped by a certain bookblogs.org, but after I complained they very kindly removed my stuff, and it seems they are completely defunct now.

  3. sylvia says:

    Si no eres más tontorrón es que naces.
    Jilipollas

  4. hi. i looked. bitacle published “the curse of the ring.”

  5. Todd says:

    Not only did it have “Curse of the Ring?”, it tried to keep me at the site. I had to click my back button multiple times to get back to your site.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Grrr. I can see the posts now and they have deleted all my comments that said they stole my content! Thanks for looking!

  7. valerie says:

    Hmmm, it does seem that Bitacle has made a few changes in the last couple of days. At the bottom of posts now it says that articles are the copyright of their respective authors. You know what? It IS my copyright and I want my stuff removed! Amazing that you got a reply from them, too, I still have not gotten anything…

  8. Milan says:

    LiveJournal was scraping blog posts of mine, and I found information on how to ban their crawler using htaccess. Does anyone know how to do this for bitacle?

  9. Sylvia says:

    Yes, go to http://stopbitacleorg.wordpress.com to find the htaccess stuff.
    Valerie, you might try using Babel Fish to send an e-mail in Spanish. Their English isn't very good, as you've probably noticed.

  10. Stefanie says:

    Thanks for the info Sylvia! I just changed my site feed settings so just a snippet of the post goes out. Stupid internet carnivores! Or would they be blogovores?

  11. Sylvia says:

    “Blogovores” –Perfect!

  12. Sylvia, thanks for your comment on my blog. Stop Bitacle! (and then quarter them)
    But let me say this… stealing YOUR content shows Bitacle has remarkably good taste! I'm your new biggest fan.
    Allan

  13. Sylvia says:

    You're too kind! Thanks, Allan. 🙂

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