Web 2.0 brought with it somewhat novel interpretations of the copyright. We are used to the fact that our stories show up in all kinds of places. As long as they are within the bounds of fair use, and as long as they link back to us, we don’t mind. We often pick up inspiration for stories elsewhere, but we try to always say where we found them, and we give ample links, the new currency of Web 2.0. Some people are less polite. Recently, matters took a turn to the weird.
(Note: Before you complain about headline or picture, read to the end.)
There are new auto sites out there that just grab anything we and other major car blogs write, and they put it on their site. Apparently in an attempt to fool Google, they then published these purloined stories under author names that have nothing to do with these stories, and which probably haven’t anything to do with existing people. Identity theft 2.0 appears to be fully automatic, as this article attempts to prove.
For this experiment, we picked one of the auto-auto sites at random. Our test specimen is carsqa.com, a site peddling “Automotive News & Advice.” Its owners wisely hide behind an anonymization service. Let’s do a little fact checking.
The story about “GM Pondering Silverado/Sierra Variants, Including Raptor Fighter” at carsqa.com is not from Alex Johanssen, it seems to be from Jens Meiners at Caranddriver.com.
Alex Johanssen also did not write “GM Pondering Silverado/Sierra Variants, Including Raptor Fighter” at carsqa.com, as he claims. The story appears to have been penned by Justin Berkowitz at Caranddriver.com, him a fugitive from TTAC.
Neither did Alex Johanssen write “The BMW X5: A Look Back,” as carsqa.com claims. I have it on very good authority that this story was written by Doug DeMuro at TTAC.
Johannsen’s virtual office-mate Brent Lofaro also did not write about “What Keis And Big Pickups Have In Common: A Galapagosization.” I think I know the actual author.
And of course, Frank Lampley of Carsqua,com did not write the terse Notice threatening that Carsqa.com reader will be banned if they don’t comply with a Carsqa.com administrative action. Carsqa’s robot took even that Notice from TTAC, assigned it to Frank Lampley as an author, and ran with it.
Now, let’s see whether they will run with this self-implicating story, and who of their authors will claim the story as his. The site even claims “Copyright Cars QA” for content that definitely is not theirs.
Apparently, these sites are created to make their owners rich. As an ad for the software promises: “Everything is Automatic! You just sit back, Relax & Make Money!”
We’ll do that. Let’s see what happens. Currently, their robot runs a little behind. As I type this, it has picked up Thomas Kreutzer’s Dark Days, changed the author to Chuck Kerkarian, and is most likely working on the rest.
(The trouble is, I rarely see any ads on these para-sites. Google seems to have a feel for them, and the only people who get rich are the folks who sell the software.)