Internet Copyright infringement
and web page cloaking
Tech Tips by Donald Burleson
As I'm sure you know, it's illegal for anyone to use
deceptive business practices, and there are a variety of
laws to protect the victims of web page theft.
Copyscape web site
an easy place to find people who have stolen and
re-published your web content. A Google search is
another great way to spot content theft.
There are some of the law
that I found that address the theft of intellectual
property and copyright infringement.
Here is my
review of the US copyright laws and their remedies.
US Federal Trade
Commission Guidelines on deceptive business practices.
The FTC is very clear on this requirement:
"Connections between an endorser and the company
that are unclear or unexpected to a customer also
must be disclosed, whether they have to do with a
financial arrangement for a favorable endorsement, a
position with the company, or stock ownership."
Deceptive business practices, are defined
by the FTC:
"An ad is deceptive if it contains a statement -
or omits information - that:
- is likely to mislead
consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances;
- is "material" - that is,
important to a consumer's decision to buy or use the
Dastardly web hosting
I have a small web
hosting company and we will not hesitate to "boot" anyone who
steals or cheats, but sadly, there are exceptions, and nasty web
hosting companies who have no trouble aiding and abetting
My most recent theft (of hundreds of my web pages) was not
addressed by the web hosting company, even after several e-mails
and telephone proof of the content theft, as required by law.
against facilitating a crime
The DMCA is quite
clear that a web host is only free of liability while they are
unaware that they are facilitating a crime, and failure to act
may have criminal penalties. The US has
felony laws prohibiting aiding and abetting criminal
activities, but it is not clear whether these laws extend to
aiding cyber criminals, computer fraud, and computer forgery.
According to the FindLaw entry on criminal aiding and abetting a
criminal (emphasis added):
"A criminal charge
of aiding and abetting or accessory can usually be brought
against anyone who helps in the commission of a crime,
though legal distinctions vary by state.
A person charged
with aiding and abetting or accessory is usually not
present when the crime itself is committed, but he or
she has knowledge of the crime before or after the fact,
and may assist in its commission through advice..."
enforcement is generally reluctant to step-in (many are not
proficient on "that thar Internet Thang"), and it can be
impossible to have your stolen content removed from the web.
The bad guys know this, and many of the hosting companies are
more concerned with making money than doing the right thing.
Inside deceptive page
If you do the Google
site:www.oraclsource.net burleson, you see 250 stolen pages
on the domain. If you click them, you are re-directed to
their home page, to buy their illicit crap. It's called
page cloaking, and it's a form of cheating, outlawed by all of
the major search engines. The problem is, that the
Googlebot never sees the deceptive redirects and cloaking and
th4ey rely of reports from their users. You can report
page cloaking and deceptive redirects to Google
Google results page, showing that when you look in their
site in the Google search and the word Garmany, you see their
results. Take note of the URL that it shows, which is the the
URL that you get when you click on the link:
When we click on it, it redirects us to their main advertising
So, how do we wee one
thing, and Google another? the answer is the browser
information which is sent as part of a TCP/IP packet.
Here we change my User Agent to
Googlebot, which makes their site believe I am Google:
And suddenly, the whole page looks different! Now we have a ton
of links going to spidered content from all kinds of sites all
over the internet. Your sites used to be part of this spidered
content, but it appears that they have desisted from
that...probably because you complained to their host. Here is
what it looks like when it thinks I'm the Googlebot:
Note the URL in the top is the TRUE URL, it doesn't redirect me
if it thinks I'm Google. While Google will be removing
your site from their cache as soon as he's reindexed, it's still
not right what he's doing, and he could easily do it again.
This is just a brief foray into the
unsavory world of Internet content theft. If you are
fortunate enough to have a friend in law enforcement there are
plenty of laws to punish violators, but the risks are small and
the rewards great for those who choose to steal the works of