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The site http://englishqna.blogspot.com seems to be reposting all our questions and answers. Now, I understand that the data is under a permissive license, but the attribution requirements don't seem to be met.

  • 7
    Incidentally, we’re not the only stackoverflow site being scraped this way: playing with the url quickly finds http://cookingqna.blogspot.com/ and http://mathqna.blogspot.com/. The former of these, like ours, is full of copied content and going strong; the latter stopped after a couple of questions. – PLL Nov 14 '11 at 19:37
  • Each post on that blog links back to ELU. Is that sufficient to count as attribution? – Marthaª Nov 15 '11 at 16:02
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    @Martha: No. The "attributed" cc licence includes any reuse or distribution must make clear to others the license terms of this work, and that any reuse must credit you for the original creation. A link back to ELU titled more discussion clearly comes nowhere near those requirements. – FumbleFingers Nov 16 '11 at 3:26
  • ...and I bet the guys in the math site kicked up a stink! – FumbleFingers Nov 16 '11 at 3:27
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    If anyone's interested, the relevant part of the Creative Commons License's formal legal wording is that any copy must include 4 b (i) - the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied – FumbleFingers Nov 16 '11 at 4:13
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    I just got a reply removing 3 more posts...but there are still a lot on the site. – simchona Nov 22 '11 at 4:37
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    I've just had my third email from the Google blogger team (all auto-generated, I suspect), and they still haven't removed even the one example post I complained about, let alone closed the blog. I'm staggered to think Google are prepared to stall on this one. My opinion of the company is starting to nosedive. – FumbleFingers Nov 23 '11 at 2:31
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    I've just had my fourth email, confirming removal of ONE post. I suppose the google removals team will eventually close the blog - since I'm now as much annoyed with them as with the blogger, I'll quite happily keep my email thread to them going with more misappropriations until google realise they're wasting effort prevaricating. – FumbleFingers Nov 24 '11 at 16:23
  • The blog looks like a lot of work for how much traffic it gets. There are no comments anywhere! – Daniel Dec 8 '11 at 19:59
  • I found some of my stuff there, and filed an official complaint. – TRiG Dec 27 '11 at 22:10
  • Well, I filed a complaint too and a day or two later the blog was gone! Coincidence? – z7sg Ѫ Jan 21 '12 at 0:44
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Good news, http://englishqna.blogspot.com has been removed.

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Is http://englishqna.blogspot.com violating EL&U copyright?

Yes and no. It's violating the copyright of EL&U users, but neither EL&U nor SE hold copyright of the content.

The problem is doing something about it, since SE doesn't have the power to act on behalf of its users. The copyright owner (i.e. the OP) of each post would have to file a DMCA complaint about his/her posts with Google, but there is no way to combine these complaints or make them simplier in any way (because in theory, people could have relicensed their posts).

So basically, you can file a DMCA complaint with Google if and only if you were the original person to write the post.

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As @waiwai says, it appears to infringe our copyright as contributors and copyright holders. Unfortunately, following the “report abuse” link doesn’t offer any option short of submitting a full legal copyright infringement request, under penalty of perjury and so on. But as I understand it (caveat: IANAL!) we have a clear-cut enough case here to be safe submitting our claims; so I dug out a few of my posts there, and under the “describe the infringing content” section, used the following:

The entire content of this blog seems to be scraped, without attribution, from questions and answers posted at english.stackexchange.com, which are licensed (by default) under CC-wiki with attribution required. The posts linked are several of my contributions; the other content was originally contributed at english.stackexchange.com by many users, and appears to have been reposted here without any attribution, authorisation, or added value. The issue is being discussed at meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/2152.

I’d encourage others to do something similar (feel free to reuse/adapt that wording) — hopefully if enough of us do, it’ll get acted on.


To find a few of my own posts there, I looked down the list of answers from my user profile, and searched for distinctive words from their titles on the blog.


(Honestly, I don’t care that much about this individual example… it’s not exactly hurting me personally. But as I understand it, things like this are part of a business model that runs by scraping vast amounts of content, at very small profit margins but at virtually no cost to the scraper, the cost being that life gets a bit worse for anyone looking for information online. And if just a small proportion of the infringees can report them, those tiny profit margins go away and the web gets a bit cleaner and tidier.)

  • YOu can also search for your username plus the name of the blog. They pulled everything from EL&U – simchona Nov 14 '11 at 22:10
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    Thanks for doing the donkey work with that descriptive section. I felt the least I could do was go through a few clicks to submit my "report abuse" claim with your text. It's not that I think my pearls of wisdom are valuable as such, but it really is a damned cheek! – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '11 at 23:23
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    This is the part that gets me so upset: the cost being that life gets a bit worse for anyone looking for information online Yes, it is that! Exactly! I don't have any personal or financial incentive to complain about this. But in aggregate, it WILL dilute value to all. – Ellie Kesselman Dec 15 '11 at 19:24
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An update: I clicked on the "Report Abuse" button on the blog -- it takes you to this page. I chose "Copyright/Piracy issues", and filled out the form, asserting that I'm the copyright owner, and that I understand the legal consequences of making false claims. It takes you here. I gave links of five blog posts on that blog that contained copies of my questions and answers, without attribution, along with links to the corresponding posts here. Two days later (today), I got an email saying that those posts have been removed under the DMCA... and indeed they have.

This is good, but unfortunately, the rest of the posts on the blog continue to exist. But perhaps if a handful of people separately file copyright complaints for their content, the blog will be suspended for good.

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    I have done the same, and have just been informed that the post has been removed. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 18 '11 at 18:33
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This is appalling. It is flagrant web scraping. It is very different from (what seems legitimate to me) sites that re-use and cite StackExchange content e.g. http://developmentprofessionals.org/ but do not do so EXCLUSIVELY. I found the development professionals site at random, but from casual observation, noted the variety of content, including original entries as well as entries reproduced from English SE, Yahoo! Answers, The World Bank etc.

Why is there no distinction made between re-use and wholesale website copying!

I mean, if it is allowed in these instances, IT SETS PRECEDENT! If these sites are allowed to continue with these practices, then anyone else can act similarly, without fear of retribution or being told to cease-and-desist. The only barrier would be personal ethics, but that is off-topic.

Reproduction of SE content in its entirety, with no additional content will become an implicitly allowed behavior. Is this a matter for MetaStackExchange, to deal with in some centralized way, and with the benefit of counsel? This is misuse of users' content, but it has a larger scope, relevant to SE's owners and investors.

  • It's certainly not the first SE scraper, and won't be the last... – Hugo Dec 15 '11 at 22:36
  • Well they should do something about it! It isn't nice! But you are right. I re-read this and shuddered. Too many capital letters and bold over use. – Ellie Kesselman Dec 15 '11 at 22:55
  • Copy from one is stealing. Copy from many then it's research. This should send a message to all scrappers out there. Steal from others too. – user4951 Jun 1 '12 at 3:57
  • @JimThio Copy from many certainly makes it more difficult to address, as you can see from this Q&A. Interesting how it requires collaboration by each individual who has been copied. In some ways it makes sense i.e. with the benefit of retaining Creative Commons license over one's content here on SE, one also retains the burden of enforcing the CC license. Re message to all scrapers (scrappers? wow! an idea for an EL&U question!) yes, it does test the limits of what can and can't be done. You are correct. – Ellie Kesselman Jun 1 '12 at 4:51
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I've added a help ticket to the Blogger help forum to get this stopped.

I've put it down as feedback, but I might have chosen the wrong place :S

  • Thank you!!! And thank you for referring me to this entry here on MetaEnglish SE. – Ellie Kesselman Dec 15 '11 at 19:59
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    So SE says they can't do anything, and Blogger says they can't do anything unless SE does something? Gah. – simchona Dec 15 '11 at 20:44
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I've had my content removed from the blog by using Google's DMCA takedown service. As I said to Google,

This is licensed under CC BY-SA, but has been reproduced without proper attribution.

If everyone whose material has been similarly scraped puts in similar requests, Google will get tired of dealing with them and will probably remove the entire blog. I can't see that blog being very useful to anyone anyway, so it'll be no loss to the Internet.

0

I have just discovered this discussion redirected from this new question, so I went to have a look at the scraper and saw this line Check more discussion of this question under each Q&A, has it just been introduced after complaints were filed to redirect towards EL&U or has it been there all along?

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    That link has always been there, but the issue (I think) is that a link back isn't attribution. – simchona Jan 2 '12 at 21:59
  • @simchona:Of course I do agree with that - I was just wondering about it. And attribution is needed. If ever some of my content appears I will do as waiwai suggests. – Laure Jan 3 '12 at 7:11
  • @Laure: Not hard to find: here's your top answer copied on their site without attribution. – Hugo Jan 5 '12 at 10:13
  • @Hugo: thanks for finding it (did find it,don't know if there are any more) will report abuse. Seems I need a signature digital signature so I'll have to sort that out first. – Laure Jan 5 '12 at 16:42
  • @Laure Your digital signature consists of you writing your name in the form. Signature isn't used for authentication here, it's a form of endorsement. – Gilles Jan 5 '12 at 20:55
  • @Gilles: I did try at first, but I got a nasty red line telling me my signature was absent. So I gathered they meant a proper digital signature. Will try again. Thanks. – Laure Jan 6 '12 at 7:00
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I just Googled "we DON'T have a ball game" as per @Tom Au's answer to What is the meaning of the expression “we have a ball game”?, posted three hours ago.

Imagine my surprise, gentle reader, when I discovered this among the dozen of so hits returned!

I know we have some seriously savvy techies here (maybe some legal eagles too). Does anyone have any idea what if anything can be done about "http://b.vniup.com/"? So far as I can see, the entire site consists of (probably illegally) scraped content, and I personally can't even see how you could find out who to complain to, let alone how.

  • They are acting illegally; if they want to use SE content they must say that that is where it is from, link to it, give credit to users, etc. If you search Meta Stack Overflow, you will find lots o' helpful information. – user11550 Jan 15 '12 at 0:22
  • @Mahnax: I know much/most of it is definitely illegal, because everything I could see appeared to be from stackexchange, which is governed by creative commons. I only said "probably" in case there might be some content there that isn't thus covered. Per my comments against this very question, I've nagged google blogger to remove my own content, but in the case of b.vniup.com I can't even see how to find out who's behind the site, in order to complain. – FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 0:31
  • I see.......... – user11550 Jan 15 '12 at 0:45
  • Here's the whois for vniup.com, with contact details for both registering and registered parties. Both are in Vietnam. – Hugo Jan 16 '12 at 7:41

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