Although hardly “the next dominant player” in providing content on the Internet, my blog (Soaring on Ridgelift) experiences the same challenges as the “big guys” • other people rip-off the content without permission and use it to generate their own revenue. I doubt that it generates much revenue for the bootleggers but I would like to know where the content is going, what gets looked at and get feedback via comments and email.

This is far from being a “first,” but a growing number of “scraper” sites take my content, aggregate it with other VC blogs and surround it with ads to try to make money. One particular scraper has a large number of lookalike sites aggregating content on different topics • all surrounded by ads. Not surprisingly, these sites have no “About,” corporate identity or ways to contact the site owner and use proxy registrars to obfuscate their identity.

I’ve deliberately not included any links to these sites for two reasons. First, even a handful of casual click-throughs reinforce the strategy used by the scrapers and second, because the difficulty of communicating with the site owners makes it hard to comply with the copyright holder’s obligations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (which makes the copyright holder responsibly for policing violations).

I found the first one of these several months ago and debated what to do. The bootleggers were violating my copyright and trying to use it to generate revenue for themselves. However, there were links back to my blog and I suspect they generated some regular readers of my blog. I looked at the terms and conditions of the advertisers affiliate programs and clearly, these scrappers were violating the relevant T’s & C’s.

As an experiment, I filed copyright complaints with two of the advertisers to see how they would respond. It has been close to a month since I filed the complaints. I got an automated message back from one advertiser (numbered by the way as 117,338,101!) instructing me to file the complaint in writing via US Mail and have yet to hear back from the other. The response I received said that assuming I filed the request in writing; they would take the matter up with the web site owner • which of course would have the same problem finding the owner as I had! Some remedy!

I am sure by now you can see what spawned the thought of “a billion pieces of content in a billion different locations” in one my recent posts! Reading the “Starfish and the Spider” highlighted the challenges of dealing with a leaderless and distributed opponent. Conclusion: if you can’t beat them… join them!

So that’s what I’ve done. I have decided to make it easier for folks to use my content in other ways and instead benefit from their re-distribution of my content. Over the last few months, I have been working with a company called Musestorm that provides a syndication platform for publishers to manage the distribution of their content across different channels. I added a MuseStorm widget to my blog that makes it very easy for people to incorporate my content on their sites. I get to control the look and feel, benefit from the analytics and… reserve the right to add my own advertising if I so wish.

If you want to re-distribute and re-purpose my content, even for your own commercial gain, you may do so providing you use the MuseStorm widget. All other rights reserved!