Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Oh look, an education!

Written By: Tracy - Apr• 27•08

I’ve been writing articles for Firefox News for a couple months now.  Mostly, I’ve been doing so for the exposure it gives me.  The articles don’t take me long to write (Reviews, and I’m watching the shows anyway) and articles on the paranormal (which I typically have already researched while looking for fiction ideas).  

They don’t pay a huge ammount (when compared with some of the international publishers that I’ve worked for).  But a lot of people see my name, and the books that I’m trying to promote. Plus for me, it’s a small justification for the four and a half years of my life that went to a college degree in journalism that I’m not really using in any other way (oh there was a great investment of time and money). 

At any rate, on Saturday morning, I posted an article about James Dean and his cursed Porsche 550 Spyder (the article is here, if you want to read it) .  By that afternoon, I found my article, word-for-word on a site that was not firefox news. 

Since I come from a print writing background, It’s been my experience that If I have a book with, say, Yard Dog Press (great company by the way), I don’t expect to walk into Barnes and Noble and see the book repackaged and sold through Bubba’s Discount Duct Tape publishing.  Particularly if neither me or Yard Dog Press are recieving a dime from the work.  That’s what’s known in the publishing industry as illegal.  

I e-mailed the publisher of Firefox, and she let me know that we’d been victims of a Scraper.  

Sounds interesting.  What the heck is it?

Essentially, it’s an internet bottom feeder.  Basically, intenet news sites (and me, since I work for Firefox) get paid for the traffic that they generate through the site.  Which is good.  You read my article, I get paid.  Money flows to the writer.  

But what these guys do is put up a website, steal content (my work) put it on their site, and submit it to search engines.   

According to the publisher at Firefox News, this happens a lot.  (shutting these guys down is like playing whack-a-mole).  She does a weekly search looking for stolen content, complains to the scraper’s host.  The site gets shut down, and they either move offshore to avoid being shut down in the future, or they find a new server and do it again.  She said that once, a scraper stole everything.  The website content, the look, all of it.  And then they swapped out the ad content for their own. 

Internet piracy.  Arrrg.

I can’t begin to describe how angry that makes me.  I said earlier that the articles don’t take up too much of my time (when compared to a piece of short fiction, a novel, or the ammount of time I used to put into the articles that went to Fancy publications).  But I did put time and effort into them.  Especially the James Dean one.  A lot of the information was garbled like a game of telephone.  (This website said this.  That book said that.  What order did the accidents happen in?  What were his last words?  were they this or that?)  I spent a long time on that article trying to be as accurate as possible.  

And someone took all that hard work, copied it and put it on a different website.  They may as well have stolen a case of my novella, ripped off the cover, duct taped on a home made cover with crayola art that their five year old made, and then sold them for fifty cents at a swap meet.

So if you ever see my paranormal articles or tv reviews on a site that isn’t firefox, let me know.  Chances are it’s been stolen.

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  1. muses_circle says:

    This is one thing I despise about the Internet in general: it seems like people can steal things, willy nilly, without consequence. I see this all the time with people on my flist who makes graphics. It’s wrong and illegal and I wish someone would do something about it.

    • Tracy says:

      Well, there are laws against this sort of thing. But the way this works is thus: The infringer steals content. The injured publisher makes a complaint. The infringer takes down the content, opens up a new site and steals new content. Eventually, they move operations to a country that doesn’t enforce the laws and then they steal content with impunity.

      I suppose it’s a testamant to the popularity of sites like Firefox News that they have to constantly watch for scum like this.

  2. I understand exactly how you feel. I’ve had my work pirated a couple times. I guess that means we’re getting famous if our work is worth stealing?

    Peter Bradley

    your friendly neighborhood artist. ^_~

    Oh Hai!