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That Blog Be Yankin’: Plagiarism-y Developments Halt Dissertation Series

July 13, 2011

UPDATE: See comments for details. Short version: the offending page is down, it seems.

Hey folks, just to let you know that this “dissertation writing service” (Google Cache of the page)website has reposted the entirety of my last post in the series that I have been writing on my dissertation. This looks to be a form of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) spam, and it’s a problem for a number of reasons: 1) I was never contacted to ask permission (and I certainly wouldn’t have given any to this site); 2) it quotes the entirety of the original work, which is in violation of “fair use” (US IP law) and most other legal guidelines for acceptable use of intellectual property without permission; and 3) since it’s a “dissertation writing service“ website, the framing of this post (me writing about the preparation of my dissertation) in this context gives the impression that either I paid for their services to prepare my dissertation or I’m trying to sell my dissertation to them—either interpretation could harm my future career as an academic and could thus be a form of libel.

In any case, this means I’m going to be putting a halt to the dissertation-in-blog-post series, until I can figure out what to do about this. In the meanwhile, I’ll add occasional updates in the comments below; sometime later, I might write a whole blog post on this experience. If you have any expertise or advice to share about this sort of situation, you’re welcome to contact me through the comments below or by e-mail. Sorry for the interruption, folks!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    July 13, 2011 22:54

    Yikes! How did you find out? (Also, what a shame—I was really enjoying the series.)

    • July 13, 2011 23:43

      Interestingly enough, I found out by looking in the comment spam filter in WordPress. I found an incoming Pingback link that led to the copied blog post on that website (SEO spam websites often use trackbacks/pingbacks, because it creates incoming links from those sites that can up their page rankings in Google). The pingback provided their IP address, which allowed me to do some searches in WHOIS and trace things back to an ISP in Lansing, MI, called Liquid Web, Inc. ( I just sent a takedown letter to them as well as the contact address for the website itself.

  2. July 14, 2011 00:29

    Wow, so I sent a strongly-worded letter to the apparent site-owner as well as I immediately received an automated response from Liquid Web, Inc., and then in approximately half an hour I got a form letter response acknowledging my complaint. At about the same time, the entire domain for stopped responding to page requests. Since the entire website was filled with reproduced content from elsewhere on the web, I’m guessing that the ISP admins got one look at the site, saw DMCA LAWSUIT BONANZA in flashing lights, and just decided to suspend the whole thing while they investigate it.

    More info as this develops, but I’m tentatively optimistic to see such a quick response from the ISP.

    • July 14, 2011 00:38

      Dammit, spoke too soon. is down, but the sub-domain is still up, and the offending post is still up. Alright, let’s see where this goes…

  3. Thomas permalink
    July 14, 2011 03:32

    One thing you can do is to only publish a summary of your posts to your RSS feed.You change this setting under the “Reading Settings” in the admin panel. The site that has stolen your content is most likely using some kind of automated scraper software which gets its content from RSS feeds like yours. I know it is not optimal for readers of your blog but if you want a fix for now then the above might do it. I was enjoying the series and would like to see it continued!

    • July 14, 2011 09:06

      Thanks for the suggestion, Thomas! I’ve already made the change. This will be a bit annoying for those people who read my blog through an RSS feed, but but hopefully it’ll help prevent my writing from being yanked so easily. I’ve contacted a few other people whose work appears on the website and told them about it, too.

  4. Mall permalink
    July 14, 2011 08:15

    But how will I prepare for your defense?

  5. July 14, 2011 08:43

    Thank you, again, for telling me about this!! –Susie

  6. July 14, 2011 10:00

    Update! I got an email response from what appears to be the site manager, saying, “Oops, sorry! We deleted it now.” The author also admitted that the website gets its content by scraping RSS feeds, so Thomas was right about their modus operandi. In any case, the offending post seems to have been deleted, although I’ll be checking in periodically to see if the text reappears.

    I’ll post something more substantial later, with an overview of how I went about this and a copy of the letter I sent.

  7. November 2, 2011 08:42

    Told you so! I wouldn’t be free sourcing this is you want also to own it. This is the paradox of the commons. Why don’t you put a creative commons usage direction on it?


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