Follow that Story: TeleRead Slays the Blognix Beast!

BlognixSome of you may remember a post we ran last Wednesday, May 1, about a ridiculous website calling itself Blognix, and which had seemingly cloned TeleRead’s entire site—content, design and all. Well, I suppose I was remiss in mentioning that just two days later, and without too much of a hassle, frankly, the head of NAPCO’s IT department succeeded in squashing Blognix like the sad and pitiful little project it was.

Incredibly though, Blognix morphed like an amoeba almost immediately after ridding itself of its bogus TeleRead cloak; it’s now cloning a website called Cheap Tech For Me. Take a look for yourself: Blognix here; Cheap Tech here.

Of course, since I only became aware of our cloned site when a good samaritan emailed me out of the blue and brought it to my attention, I figured that passing along the favor to the next stolen site would be the least I could do. But after searching nearly every last pixel of the Cheap Tech site, I came up blank; there didn’t seem to be contact information of any sort listed on the site anywhere.

I mentioned this to a colleague, who suggested that Cheap Tech For Me may in fact be a clone itself, which would at least explain the total lack of contact info, not to mention bylines. No Facebook or Twitter accounts seem to exist for it, either. (Could it be that Blognix is now cloning a clone?)

At any rate, I did find a Dutch consumer electronics e-retailer known as Cheap Tech. And oddly enough, an event that’s being referred to as a “Blognix” is currently being planned in Birmingham, in the UK; it’s a picnic for bloggers.

In all seriousness though, I’ve got it give it to these oddball cloners: It’s not a bad little scam.

8 Comments on Follow that Story: TeleRead Slays the Blognix Beast!

  1. Is “click fraud” the motivation behind this? I’d suppose that the folks paying per click would want to know but, then again, maybe not.

  2. Hi Frank: Yes, the way these people make money is from Google Adsense – at least that’s my understanding. I guess when you’re cloning dozens of different sites at a time, that money can add up. Why isn’t Google interested in policing this sort of thing? I really don’t know. It could be that it’s just not worth the hassle, since a new site is almost guaranteed to pop up once an old one is put to bed. Tough to say.

  3. A lot of people who own websites have had similar problems. It would be very helpful to the public if you could tell them just how “… without too much of a hassle, frankly, the head of NAPCO’s IT department succeeded in squashing Blognix”. I’ve been asked how to do this a number of times and I have never been able to give the questioner an answer.

  4. Welcome to the wonderful world of “Whack a Mole” that so many of us in publishing have to deal with.

    Pirate and clone sites like this make a great deal of money via ad revenue. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars for larger sites in just a month. So, no, it’s not some free spirit or “f*ck the Man” type who does this. It’s a cold-blooded thief making lots of money off others’ work.

    And, I really hope Teleread writers remember this experience the next time they want to weigh in on the side of “copyright is evil” minions who hang around here.

  5. A tip for those who deal with this.

    Contact the advertisers and Google Ads to let them know they are sponsoring a pirate or clone site. Cutting off the income is the only true way to kill these sites.

  6. Paul – in response to how to do this, it varies by how it was done and by who. You will have to do some research to the point of finding the real source. In some cases it is easy since the offending site is hosted under a simple server setup and you can just ping the url and get an IP address. In this case, however, the site was hosted behind an Internet pass-through which is a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service for websites to make their sites faster and accessible by the closest point to the user.

    You have to pressure the CDN to let you know where the actual site is hosted. In a lot of cases, they will not tell you. If you file enough abuse complaints, they will help you. With hosting companies, it is like playing darts, if they will entertain you and help. Reputable hosting companies will take your abuse complaint seriously and try to help. Most will tell you that you need a court order for them to take a site down.

    Sites that sit behind CDN’s or other masked means do it for a reason. They know the CDN will protect them in that there is never a real IP address to find them. If you ping the url, it will return an IP address in a group of others meant to serve out the quickest response to you depending on where you initiate the ping from. In this case as well, the hosting provider said they did not own the site because “we pinged the url and it resolves to x and that is not our server, so we are in the clear”. They did not do their own homework and see what was going on with the CDN and appeared to not have the technical knowledge to see it at first. After it was pointed out to them based on actual findings and a list of like sites on one of their servers with names and what was going on, they seemed to take action.

    It is also of note, as others have said here that you take action with Google AdSense or other entity that is serving the Ads. Make sure you provide them with enough information for them to act accordingly. Let them know the offending site, your site, what you have seen happen and that you are the site owner of the stolen property.

    This just deters them for a short period of time and makes them move on to other sites to scrape. As seen in this case, within 30-45 minutes the bot had attacked another site and moved on. You would hope that Google AdSense or others would be wise to something like this, as they are good at detecting fraud on clicks and the like.

    I wish I had a definitive guide to going through every process, but they all differ.

  7. Thomas, thanks very much for taking the time to do that. It’s very much appreciated.

  8. @Thomas
    Hi:
    Thanks for your detailed response. This info is very helpful to know.
    In fact , it would probably make a good ebook. Details the various steps/strategies of how to back-track to the source, add links for the various places to file ‘abuse’ complaints with Google/others, and a section on how to write a DMCA violation notice letter and you have something that is valueable & sellable.

    Ping me at my website if you are interested in exploring this further… :)

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