By on June 1, 2013

Carsqa-Head

“Carsqa.com is a bunch of rotten thieves – and we admit it,” wrote carsqa.com editor Chuck Kerkarian yesterday. However, this surprising confession did not stop his publication from committing further egregious acts of intellectual property robbery. The written admission of guilt was followed by an article stolen by carsqua’s Alex Johanssen from Murilee Martin at  caranddriver.com, and another one purloined from Alex Dykes at TTAC. Even after admitting guilt, Carsqua’s Chuck Kerkarian steals a Chevrolet Impala 2.5 review from Caranddriver, and a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI vs. Hybrid comparo from Mike Solowiow from TTAC. (I wouldn’t steal from an F16 driver, but that’s just me.)

To make the robbery complete, Carsqa asserts copyright for the stolen stories.

Google-Carsqa

The robots that make those auto-auto sites, better known as para-sites, know no shame. An astounding 1880 hits were produced by an EXACT Google search for “Carsqa.com is a bunch of rotten thieves – and we admit it,” the headline of yesterday’s story at TTAC, and soon thereafter the title of an identical story at carsqa and thousands more.

Carsqa has been singled out by us, but it definitely is not alone. I will not be surprised if there will be a new story in carsqa and many others, headlinedCarsqa.com Admits Flagrant Intellectual Property Violations, Commits Some More.”

P.S.: Yesterday, I wrote that there are amazingly few ads on these para-sites. This remains to be true. With a few exceptions. One of them being Amazon.com, apparently an advertiser on the Carsqa para-site. Being one of the world’s largest retailers of books and digital content, Amazon should have a vested interest in the protection of intellectual property, and it may want to review the practice of advertising on para-sites.

Likewise, we encourage all producers of handmade original content to poison the well that feeds the parasites.

 

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32 Comments on “Carsqa.com Admits Flagrant Intellectual Property Violations, Commits Some More...”


  • avatar
    niky

    Will a screenshot confession hold up in court?

    As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of thievery.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    Since you know their bots are scouring TTAC it would seem to be a simple process to create *ahem* content that was not visible to your subscribers but would find itself re-posted on Casqa.

    If you catch my drift…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I agree. Years ago when the site f****company was still around, the site owner was having issues with his /images directory getting crawled – he solved that by putting some, errr, interesting pictures on there. The user community would never know they were there unless they crawled the site.

  • avatar
    AFX

    I once bought an 8×10 glossy photo of an historical scene from the 1800′s off of Ebay. After I got it I found out it was simply a downloaded and printed out picture from the Library Of Congress’s website, and since it was so old the copyright didn’t apply anymore and the photo was in the public domain. The best part of it was the the guy I bought it from actually attached his own copyright sticker on the back of the print. So the guy was making money off of downloading free non-copyrighted photos, printing them and selling them on Ebay, and claiming a copyright himself. This is how the minds of these people operate.

    • 0 avatar
      philipbarrett

      There was a popular ebay scam for a while that involved selling a photo of the listed object not the actual object itself. The ads were very cleverly worded and a lot of people fell for it.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I have no problem paying for a print of a copyright-free photo if it’s a good print at a reasonable price, and not posing as a copyrighted photo.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Users should avoid these sort of sites because they are the sort of sites for fear of spam, spyware and what ever else they think they can make money on.

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    By any chance, is the Carsqa.com website domain based in China ;}

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Their “articles” are just the intro parts that you have on the front page, as well as the intros from other articles from cardanddriver and others. Then in the end of the intro part, they have “Original Article:” and a link back to your sites. They are driving traffic to your sites, get it?

    Windmills are scary

    • 0 avatar

      What you’re saying is that it’s okay for them to steal from us as long as they tell folks, ultimately, from where they stole their content. Are you as cavalier with your own property?

      Can you say for sure that the advertising revenue they bleed off by using our original content is exceeded by that generated by the number of people who visit our site after the two clicks it takes them to get to the original article on TTAC? They pass off our work as theirs and while they do eventually link to TTAC, they make readers click through an additional page to get to that link. You inaccurately described how they link to TTAC, perhaps you did so to make them look less culpable. At the end of the intro, it says “continue reading” or something similar, which links to another page at their site with the same excerpt.

      They don’t even bother to use an original headline to give them the fig leaf of complying with the commentary aspects of the fair use exemption in copyright law. I don’t have a problem with news aggregator sites, per se, I’ve run a couple myself about the Chinese and Indian auto industries, but at least I tried to have original headlines and direct links to the original publisher. I didn’t make up fictional reporters’ bylines and pass the content off as my own original work.

      Also, they didn’t just steal my story about Roger Penske not wanting to run GM. They also stole the copyrighted photograph that illustrated the content that they stole. They cropped the photo to remove the copyright notice for Cars In Depth. Where does your “they are driving traffic to your sites” apply when they’re removing “©CarsInDepth.com” from a photo?

      • 0 avatar
        EdAlvarez

        The description of what Carsqa does sounds a lot like what you yourselves do in Twitter.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I wouldn’t even say that they’re providing links out of courtesy. What their bots are doing is literally copying the contents that are on TTAC’s homepage, including the jump-links that say “Continue Reading” and their respective URLS…which of course link back to the full TTAC stories.

      • 0 avatar
        eamiller

        Copyright infringement isn’t “stealing”. Their copying of your content does not remove your content. Stop using that word as a proxy for copyright infringement.

        Also any additional traffic to your site is a benefit to you. This isn’t a zero-sum game given that the people who do click through might not have otherwise gone to TTAC. You, yourself admitted that Google largely downranks these sites with its algorithm.

        At the end of the day, it comes off as if TTAC is desperately trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

        However, I do approve of the crafty way that TTAC is attempting to socially shame them, but my above statement still applies.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Stump master, another thing I have noticed that their are dozens of these sites which are actually harvesting your ISP address and forwarding emails which appear to be from websites that reflect your interests whether it be cars,gardening ,porn or ebay searches even. It is a bot type attack by some very smart marketing soft ware. By sending you emails purporting to be from legitimate sites about your interests (they even use your correct name!) they can circumvent malware and junkmail detectors. I tend to look at all sender addresses in my mail and those that i dont recognize or use an odd heading get dumped in the junk sender file. They are not like a virus which is designed to wreck your soft ware but are just trying to sell you crap you dont need. Thus,they dont need adverts on their sites, they are getting paid a percentage for each hit the others get when the gullible look at the “new” car enthusiast site. A curse on all their shitty houses.

  • avatar
    graham

    Thanks for the whine. Is Google next on your hit list?

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Google provides ad revenue and directly links hits. Sites like these compete with the originals and rob you of clicks and ad revenue.

      For those of us who struggle to create original content and get paid pennies on the dollar to do it, having your own work supplanted in search engines by cloned content downright sucks.

      No website content is truly free. We have to pay the bills somehow. If you want to keep reading “free” content, we’ve got to keep getting advertisers.

  • avatar
    Commando

    The World Wide Web is just one humongous feeding trough and the most aggressive porker who can muscle his way up to the front and stay there the longest is top hog. I remember when TTAC was in its infancy (along with the gazillion other new internet fad called ‘blogs’) and was considered parasites from the print media. Five years from now, auto (fill in topic here) blogs will themselves be old news as auto auto (fill in topic here) blogs suck off of them
    And so it goes…

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      If TTAC was cribbing articles from Car and Driver and attributing them to imaginary authors, you’d have a point. But they weren’t.

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        Good golly. Who would steal *anything* from C&D after say, the late 80s (being very generous)?

        C&D would have to improve orders of magnitude to be worth cribbing by a flailing blogger. Or MT. Were Carlos Sheen a car writer, he’d be over-qualified to write for C&D for the last two decades.

  • avatar

    This just in:

    Frank Lampley of Carsqa writes: “Carsqa.com Admits Flagrant Intellectual Property Violations, Commits Some More.”

    I’d say this is an expression of intent.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Remember Napster? It is hard for the law or any regulators to know what to do at first when a basic delivery technology changes radically. Initial response is usually for enforcement to back off until the economics of the new situation clarifies. This may take a few years.

    Remember, that copyright and patent laws do what is usually a bad thing (create a legal monopoly) for the sake of doing a good thing (encourage innovation). It’s always a tough balancing act even in a static technological circumstance. I speak advisedly as (for a few years long ago) Chief Economist of a state public service commission.

    Your expose approach strikes me a just about the right response for now. Please don’t resort to vigilante vandalism – regulators, who are essentially a specialized criminal justice system, gotta maintain basic law and order as job one.

    The outcome may take some years to emerge, but it is going to be very beneficial to you. Ideally, you will get some compensation when they run your stuff (if just only that they have to carry your adverts or maybe make a small monetary payment to you online). You can then also boast a larger readership to your advertisers. I can benefit from having a readers digest of on the subject articles available.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      We are already way past Napster level when it comes to blogs and journalistic websites. The model is already relatively mature. Cross-linking, citing websites, paying royalties for reprints (either monetary, or in terms of advertising)… that ALREADY happens. Blogs and sites regularly reference each other, with short intro articles linking to the original. I’ve had stuff reprinted by permission or printed in exchange for promotional links.

      What sites like the above do is pure and simple piracy.

      Funnily enough… I’ve found stuff I’ve written for the Asian market similarly cribbed and reprinted whole on US websites. And the stuff is veeeery obscure. For a site like my former site, that struggled to hit 10,000 unique hits a month, that kind of thing would seriously eat into our ad revenues.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        Napster is the prototype. I once downloaded about 250 versions of “The House of the Rising Sun” from them. It seems that as an uncopyrighted folk song ‘House’ became filler for everybody’s record album back in the day. The best-known was in English by the Animals. Also Santa Esmeralda and a few others did some marvelous versions. It was recorded even in my meager collection in 10 languages. I cannot even begin to tell you glory and the horror that ensued when the musicians of the world turned loose their chops on a really good tune like ‘House’. At least I did manage to get it some of it recorded.

        You are defining the problems and promise of piracy as we speak. But, the big gap between revenue and cost that existed under the old technology is gone forever. The new gap is narrower. If anyone expects any government to defend their old monopoly profit margins on the use of their intellectual property, they better consult their bankruptcy lawyer.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Google itself is the biggest intellectual property pirate in the world. The best example is Google’s Youtube. At least 90% of the content on Youtube is posted by somebody other than the copyright holder without permission by the owner. Google sells ads on these videos. Google hides behind the DMCA claiming that it abides by takedown notices. That’s technically true, but when you have tens of millions of persons uploading to Google, there’s no way that the copyright owners can keep up with the pirates. Whereas services like Pandora and SiriusXM pay song royalties per song and have restrictions on playing individual songs on demand, With exceptions, Google does not pay song royalties and you can go to Youtube and play just about any individual song that you can think of.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      Looks like Pandora and SiriusXM may not be successful business models in the end. I know they piss me off in the way they try to collect their completely insignificant 99 cent per play revenue. It’s like dealing with a juke box that insists on knowing your name and address and insists you remember your password. Plus, even 99 cents per play given today’s technology seems a little (or maybe a lot) rich.

      Everyone would love to enjoy the old profit margin while themselves using the new, lower cost technology. Ain’t gonna happen. Never has. Never will. Certainly not for the little guy.

      Copyrights and patents are a monopoly granted by the state and enforced by the state. Their purpose is to encourage innovation and a supply of good music and written stuff. For the rest of us, this is the only thing that matters.

    • 0 avatar

      FYI, if you post, say your homemade video on youtube and you use a copyrighted work as your background music, the systems fingerprint the audio and identify it as such. Depending on their deal with the copyright holder, Google may disable the audio portion (you probably have seen this) but allow the visuals to play back, OR (if the copyright holder is forward-looking) actually pay the copyright holder for the ads that generate revenue on the page.

      So, in many instances in youtube (at least for music), random people using and uploading your copyrighted content can put cash in your pocket.

      That’s not an answer to the totality of the problem, but I wanted to point out that “hiding behind the DMCA” is not the full extent of their activities.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      Conslaw, YouTube’s ContentID system automatically identifies copyrighted material (audio and video). This is actually far above what is required by the DMCA safe harbor provisions.

      Also, how the hell is YouTube magically supposed to identify copyright infringement when they didn’t create the original copyrighted material? Asking ISPs to be copyright cop is incredibly silly and an impossible task. The fact that Google has created ContentID is pretty amazing from a technological standpoint. However, because copyright law has a fair use provision (rightfully so), even ContentID is far too aggressive in removing legitimate content.

  • avatar
    Robert Gordon

    Interesting.

    Talking of plagiarism, how is the last chapter of the BMW ‘M’ Series story coming along:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/40-years-of-the-m-series-a-pictorial-history-chapter-1/

    Glass houses, stones that sort of thing…


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