Why Is Google Paying Websites To Rip Me Off?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
why is google paying websites to rip me off

Here’s a simple truth. Virtually everything that I write online about cars gets ripped off. Whether I publish it here, at Cars In Depth, over at The Truth About Cars, or Left Lane News, I can go to sleep at night safe in the knowledge that I’m getting ripped off by other websites, usually single topic content aggregators. When the site operators are nice, they just excerpt the first paragraph and link back to the originating site. While that’s still a copyright violation (it’s not “fair use” because the excerpt isn’t used for the purpose of commentary or criticism), at least the original publisher gets some traffic out of the situation. Other site operators just go ahead and steal the entire post.

Take just about any post on TTAC, select and copy a complete sentence, drop that phrase in Google and you’ll probably find a plethora of purloining publishers. This site, copied Steve Lang’s post about repossessing cars verbatim. Another site, Edwards420.com, does nothing but publish content from TTAC, probably from our RSS feed.

It’s so commonplace that those of us who write for the site have a ho hum attitude about it because there really isn’t much that we can do about it.

Unfortunately, the only reason this can go on is because of Google and their AdSense and AdChoice programs. Were it not for Google paying those sites for ads that Google AdSense runs on those sites, they wouldn’t have a reason to exist and rip us off. AdSense specifically is based on site content, and those sites’ content is stolen. The theft is actually on two levels. First, there’s the basic copyright thievery. Then there’s the traffic and ad revenue we don’t get because readers find our content somewhere else. Google is the “fence” that pays for the stolen goods. To keep this in an automotive vein, Google is the chop shop that pays the car thief to steal your car.

Also, Google isn’t just paying websites to rip off high traffic sites like TTAC, which gets millions of pageviews every month. I’ve found content from my own site, Cars In Depth, all over the place, and CID gets a tiny fraction of TTAC’s traffic. The fact that Google is paying people who rip me off is all the more aggravating because AdSense keeps turning CID down. The bots that Google uses to evaluate AdSense applications aren’t very smart and apparently can’t navigate the site. Google won’t pay me any ad revenue for my original content but they’ll pay someone else to rip me off.

This doesn’t just harm the writers and publishers. It ultimately harms you, the reader, because if enough traffic and ad revenue is hijacked, the sites that you go to for original content may not thrive.

This is little more than a rant because, as I said, there’s nothing we can do about it. Google is about as unresponsive a company as exists today. If you think that the Detroit automakers were convinced of their own infallibility, the Big 3 were meek and humble compared to the magnitude of Google’s hubris.

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  • J Sutherland J Sutherland on Oct 16, 2011

    Ronnie-thanks for opening up this debate even though you've faced some heat. This was a very informative and open discussion for me and the byproduct of any good discussion is education. Thanks as well to some of the posters for being part of the educational process. Some of our stuff ends up on other sites too and this really shed some much appreciated light on the subject. Thanks again guys for this excellent debate. This is when a forum shines-that's rare.

  • LessRantingPls LessRantingPls on Oct 16, 2011

    I registered to comment on this. As a minor content creator myself, I'd hate if someone copied my stuff and made money on it- It's damn hard to make money; it's harder when you see someone else stealing your stuff and making money on it! A suggestion for TTAC: there is an opportunity to reduce content stealing. Most full content thieves are likely siphoning articles as they appear. Therefore, it is automated, and TTAC could utilize a wordpress plugin that can recognize blacklisted slurpbots and change the article while it is being served to the bot. The article could be changed to remove all vowels, insert "this article stolen from TTAC" every few sentences, etc. How to recognize and blacklist slurpbots? You need an automated task that Googles for each [new] article's text; stores the thief's site name and IP in a database; then checks the TTAC site logs for that article, and attempts to locate the slurper. Once located, blacklist the IP or bot. It's not a perfect idea, but you might embarrass a site with a cleverly changed article that is gibberish but still is good English.

  • V16 I'm sure most people could find 155,365 reasons to choose another luxury brand SUV and pocket the difference.
  • ChristianWimmer I don’t want this autonomous driving garbage technology in any car.My main fear is this. Once this technology is perfected, freedom-hating eco hysterical governments (crap hole Germany, UK and the European Union in general) will attempt to ban private car ownership because “you don’t need to own a car anymore since the car can come to you, drop you off and then proceed to service the next customer”... no thanks. Having your own car is FREEDOM.Go away, autonomous driving. I also enjoy the act of driving a car. I want to drive, not be driven.
  • Mike-NB2 The solution is obvious here. Everyone should be raised in an Irish Catholic family and then all it takes is a sideways glance from mom and you're atoning for that sin for the rest of your life. My mother has been dead for decades and I still want to apologize to her. Catholic guilt is a real thing. 😁
  • Wjtinfwb A good car. I don't find Accord's as appealing as they were a decade or two ago, not that they've gotten worse, but the competition has gotten better. It would be my choice if I had to pay for it myself and maintain it for 10 years and 150k miles. They'd be very reliable and no doubt inexpensive miles, but probably a pretty boring 10 years.
  • Lou_BC "augmented reality" Isn't that a mamoplasty?