2 years ago I shared about a blogger and follower/friend of mine, Ali Akbar, who purchased the domain, googleappsengine.com (he still owns it) in order to create an AppEngine-related blog (since Google apparently forgot to purchase the domain). Ali received a threatening Cease-and-Desist from Google shortly after asking him to immediately discontinue use of the domain and “Take immediate steps to transfer the Domain Name to Google”. It would appear that Google needs to take a dose of its own medicine though. To my surprise, I’ve realized recently that my articles from StayNAlive.com and other blogs are being shared, in their full text, on Buzz and having my ads stripped from them, without my permission.
For those unaware, there’s a “subscribe” button when you visit this blog that allows anyone to obtain the RSS of this blog and plug it into a Reader. For those of you reading this in a Reader, thank you, and you’re already aware of this. One thing I have done with those feeds if you haven’t noticed is at the bottom of each post in the RSS, I’ve added Google Adsense to my feeds so I can at least cover my costs of running this blog and make at least a few cents a day trying to re-coup costs of hosting and time spent writing posts. If you visit http://staynalive.com/feed in a browser like Chrome, you can look at the raw feed and see the ads at the bottom of each post. Or, if you’re reading this post in a traditional feed reader, look down at the bottom of this post and you’ll see the ad.
However, there’s a feature on Buzz that enables anyone reading my shared posts to expand the summarized content and view the entire post, right in Buzz. For one, I didn’t give Buzz permission to do this on shared posts, and second, Buzz is stripping out my ads, depriving me of that potential revenue rather than either displaying those ads, or redirecting the user back to my site where I can monetize that in some other form. This is blatant copyright infringement if you ask me! Now, if you expand my posts, since it’s integrated into Gmail, look over to the right – see those ads? Yup, I’m not getting a penny of that.
Google is now monetizing my content, and neglecting to ask for my permission in doing so, while removing what I had put in place to monetize my content. Starting today, I’m removing my blog from my Google Profile, as well as my Google Reader shares so that I don’t help further the copyright infringement on other blogs I share. The problem that still exists is that anyone who shares my content from Google Reader will also have my content available on Buzz in full format, and my ads stripped. There’s no way to stop it, and Google is encouraging this wrong practice.
To be clear, I’m fine with them either displaying the ads that I put there (and allowing me to monetize off the other ads that are on the page), or just summarizing the article and encouraging users to click through to my site. I’m not okay with Google scraping my content, stripping my ads, altering my content, and pushing it out for them to get 100% of the revenues off of something I spent time and money making.
Google, how is this not evil? Maybe I should use Google’s own Cease and Desist letter to get them to stop this practice. Or would that itself be copyright infringement?
Image courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment – “The Ant Bully”
UPDATE: The Google Buzz Team did contact me on Buzz (Ironically, considering the content of this post), and they say they’re going to have the ad scraping issue fixed by next week.