Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Shows How Completely Incompetent They Are When It Comes to the Internet

02/16/2010 @ 12:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler59 COMMENTS

motorcyclist

UPDATE 3: Because of our article Motorcyclist Online has further refined their “Buzz” section. Of course they’ve also removed Asphalt & Rubber from their feed. We’re not expecting an apology from them at this point.

UPDATE 2: A small victory, Motorcyclist Online has changed their format to only copy the first 50 words of our text…still no link love though, and still actually copying the wrong text from us.

UPDATE: It looks like Motorcyclist Online is actually copying this story as well. Sweet irony!

I got a strange email today…which isn’t that strange in of itself, because I get strange emails on a regular basis, but the email contained a link to Motorcyclist Online, the internet version of Motorcyclist Magazine, which is owned by Source Interlink Media.

Clicking onto the link I see an article that was written this morning, published in its full text. “That’s funny” I think to myself, because we certainly never gave Motorcyclist permission to use our articles…clicking further I see we’re not the only online motorcycle site whose content is being copied onto the online pages of Motorcyclist Online…we’re just the latest addition to this blatant act of plagiarism and IP theft.

If you dive into our twitter account, you’ll see that we’ve been calling people out lately who have been copying our content. It takes maybe an hour to write a post here, but only seconds for someone to copy it. And while we’re working on a solution to stop this, in the meantime social pressure seems to be the best remedy to stop this sort of behavior. Usually the sites that copy us have only a loose understanding of copyright law.

Some think that since they cited us as the source, it absolves them from plagiarism and legal liability (it doesn’t…trust me). However, in the case of Motorcyclist Online and Motorcyclist Magazine, this is the first time I’ve seen a professional organization openly commit copyright infringement, word theft, and generally be a cancer on the online motorcycle community in such an heinous fashion.

Copyright Infringement and Intellectual Property Theft

This whole issue revolves around Motorcyclist‘s “Buzz” portion of the site, which is setup similar to a news aggregator. Before I go further, it’s worth mentioning that new aggregators themselves operate on the fringes of IP law, taking the copyrighted works of others, and using that work in a derivative manner, i.e. publishing the first 200 characters of the work.

This practice goes more or less unpunished however because news aggregators often play an important service to content publishers: they send readers and traffic back to the publishing site. For an added bonus, aggregators also “follow” the links of the publisher, which gives sites like Asphalt & Rubber a boost in search engine standings and pagerank.

But in the case of Motorcyclist Online none of these things are occurring, which means everyone they are copying the content of, (sites like Asphalt & Rubber, PlugBike, Crash.net, Ultimate Motorcycling, etc) are getting left out in the dark both when it comes to traffic and pagerank. We lose, they gain, but we did all the work.

Motorcyclist‘s “Buzz” section presents itself like a news aggregator, but clicking on the title of the article doesn’t take you to the publisher’s site. Instead, it takes you to another page on Motorcyclist‘s website where they copy word for word our content, and the online content of other publishers.

Sure, we get a “source” link, but that’s still a “nofollow” and like I’ve mentioned before does nothing to mitigate the copyright theft that is occurring. In fairness, it should be mentioned that the “Full Story” links do appear to link back to the source, but after reading every word of our article, why would a viewer click through to see the source? Maybe they think readers want to read the article a second time? Thanks Motorcyclist for that carrot.

Print Doesn’t Understand Web, And It Shows

To an online publisher like us, it’s pretty easy to spot someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing with the “interwebz”. We’re often the ones called “amateurs” but in the case of Motorcyclist‘s “Buzz” the roles have clearly been reversed. Normally, aggregators and other sites copy our content via our RSS feed. This is because RSS technology was designed with syndication in mind (although it often is still abused, and used in illegal manners).

With Motorcyclist‘s “Buzz”, at least for out posts, it looks like Motorcyclist Online has gone through the trouble of actually spidering our site to copy the content, as our content from the red sliding “popular” bar is showing up before the actual text of the article. Devoid of any page breaks whatsoever, the result is a mess of words without order, which only furthers to tarnish the Asphalt & Rubber brand image. Thanks again Motorcyclist Online.

It’s scary to think what the conversations at Source Interlink Media must have sounded like to allow this sub-section of their site to come into creation. Dwindling circulation numbers and decreasing ad rates certainly don’t help things, but the larger hurdle is for a print organization to shift how it operates and to think digitally. As we’ve seen of the years, this isn’t a transition that is occurring smoothly, and today is another example of that.

We’re surprised none of their legal staff chimed in during the pitch for this feature (or maybe they did, but were overruled?). Print magazines are ten times more zealous about their IP protection than any other industry, their words after all are what they are selling. Journalists not only take pride in the smithing of their syllables, but even get territorial about the stories they cover, thinking that “this story was mine, how dare you cover it as well!”

This would be considered heresey if it was a print-on-print crime (imagine opening Motorcyclist and seeing the words “From Ultimate Motorcycling” printed before a copy of that work), but apparently when its online-on-online IP theft its an acceptable act according to Motorcyclist Online and the folks at Source Interlink Media.

Help Us Out!

We’re the David to their Goliath, and need your help to stop the theft of our content, and the content of others. We will of course look into our legal remedies, but the better resource we have is you the reader. Digg this, retweet this, put it on facebook, and email it your friends. Let Motorcylist know that everyone is watching them steal from other news outlets.

Comment:

  1. Everyone is ripping off everyone in this economy. It’s a sad state of affairs. Sue the living sh#$ out of them!!!

  2. Absolutely unacceptable. Netizens ought by rights call them out and let them know they cannot run an online business based on the theft of content from other sites.

    We’re retweeting this story, and posted it on our facebook page.

    These aren’t the only dirtballs.Bikerholic.com (@BikerHolic) has done this, too. And we’ve called them on it.

  3. BikePilot says:

    Truly shameful regardless of whether its out of shear incompetence or disregard for property rights. Not only do the print mags do a poor job online, but I’ve noticed a distinct decline in the quality of writing and accuracy of content in their printed works as well.

  4. Harumph says:

    I had Toyota rip off one of my photos of their own museum and pass it around to blogs. I couldn’t figure out exactly who stole it so I just convinced the blogs to change the credit line. It is sometimes futile to try and get to the bottom of these things.

  5. RT @HellForLeather: @Asphalt_Rubber Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites http://bit.ly/djp09o #motorcycle

  6. Jenny Gun says:

    This got a laugh in the office:

    http://bit.ly/a3ewHU

    maybe we should “nofollow” that link?

  7. Already a Top 5,000 post on Topsy, and 22 RT’s. Thanks everyone for sharing this. I’m putting a Digg button up top too to help spread the word.

  8. Not cool! RT @Asphalt_Rubber Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Including A&R – http://bit.ly/djp09o

  9. RT @FieryPinkGirl Not cool! RT @Asphalt_Rubber Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites, incl A&R http://bit.ly/djp09o

  10. akatsuki says:

    You had me until this: “new aggregators themselves operate on the fringes of IP law, taking the copyrighted works of others, and using that work in a derivative manner”

    Apparently you guys don’t care about fair use. While what Motorcyclist is doing goes beyond fair use and should be rightfully punished under traditional notions of copyright, using this to push/suggest an agenda of an even more draconian copyright and restriction of consumer rightstells me where you stand in relation to the readers of your site.

  11. Rev. Millertime says:

    Shared on both Facebook and Twitter!

  12. Akatsuki,

    Check your fair use criteria, it’s very easy for an aggregator to cross over this boundary, which Motorcyclist has done so with their “Buzz” section.

    Saying we aren’t for fair use exceptions is a complete misstatement of our beliefs. I’ve personally argued and published on fair use in copyright law before, and I personally think aggregators are a positive force in the online world when done properly.

    You don’t see us making a stink about alltop or fast3r.com because these sites benefit us in the use of our content.

  13. akatsuki says:

    I think it was the phrasing specifically. What they are doing isn’t new aggregating per se, they are wholesale copying.

  14. Akatsuki,

    Yes, well they were…it seems now they’ve figured out how to make their site more like an aggregator. They’re still putting “nofollow” on all the outbound links, which is a shame…but pretty S.O.P. for the print mags online sites.

    At least they’re not doing an MCN where they go onto blogs and drop their URL’s of the same story in the comments so they can syphon readers and get more Goolge Pagerank.

  15. ZRocket says:

    This is exactly what fast3r is doing and by driving traffic to AnR they are technically doing the same service to your site by driving traffic your way. Why not embrace the publicity and enjoy the views? I clicked on the full story link and ended up here. What’s the problem, again? They gave you credit up front with your logo and everything. Did you ever think they were just trying to show their viewers the world of motorcycling? There must be a conspiracy!

  16. No, what Motorcyclist did is very different than what fast3r is doing. Motorcyclist was taking out entire story and republishing it on their site, giving us a link to our story at the end of their copy. Why would someone read our story on Motorcyclist and then click over here and read it again?

    Fast3r takes the first 50 words or so, of a story and then invites a reader to read the rest of that story on our site. We have no problems with this, it helps them and it helps us. Win/win. Thankfully because of today’s article, and the buzz created by our readers, this is the methodology that Motorcyclist is employing now. However, they still have a long way to go in understand internet publishing, i.e. nofollows, rss, and general web standards like css and html.

  17. Brammofan says:

    I agree with you, Jensen. If they steal the text and manage to include a link, at least they are including an attribution. It’s when they forego even the link… that’s just plain plagiarism. As for its inability to understand what the internet is about, isn’t that obvious? Everytime you load their site, that damn popover comes up. Annoying, insulting, and unsophisticated.

  18. This is why ‘old media’ is dying. Faceless, careless, clueless. Dugg.

    Fortunately Cycle World, especially Matthew Miles, is making an effort to make themselves the exception. So I won’t write them all off.

  19. Looks like someone over there woke up. http://bit.ly/a3ewHU now leads to a 404 error.

  20. @Reyzie says:

    I never frequent Motorcyclist’s “Buzz” or any other part of their site, (they lost me when they made Catterson (sp?) editor-in-chief,) but looking tonight, it appears they ARE citing sources. Is that something they started today after Asphalt & Rubber exposed them?

  21. Davin Black says:

    “Some think that since they cited us as the source, it absolves them from **plagerism** and legal liability (it doesn’t…trust me, I’m an IP lawyer). ”

    But does it absolve them from plagiarism ? :-p

    Seriously though: I’m glad I found A&R a few months ago, and had it immediately added to my RSS feeds; otherwise, I might’ve still been Googling “motorcycle news” to stay updated, and wind up helping out Motorcyclist at the expense of all of your awesome work. Kudos to whoever

  22. Davin Black says:

    - tipped you guys off (responses via iPhone are difficult lol).

  23. Jenny Gun says:

    Thanks Davin, I cee you foundh hour lattest effort in fighting plagersimsam…spelleing mistakes. ;)

    Seriously though, and this happened not too long ago, there’s nothing better than catching someone using our work. Having them deny it. And then pointing out all the words they magically spelled wrong just like we did. The best one to date was the guy who ripped off our article, and accused us of ripping it from another site…when in the article in question (both on our site and his) said “we here at Asphalt & Rubber”.

  24. Dan Lo says:

    RT @Asphalt_Rubber Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Including A&R – http://bit.ly/djp09o #motorcycle

  25. Tsk, tsk, tsk… RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites http://bit.ly/djp09o #media #copyrights

  26. @Asphalt_Rubber Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Including A&R – http://bit.ly/djp09o #motorcycle

  27. Gaelle says:

    RT @FieryPinkGirl: Not cool! RT @Asphalt_Rubber Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Inc… http://bit.ly/djp09o

  28. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Including A&R – http://bit.ly/djp09o #motorcycle

  29. RT @HellForLeather: @Asphalt_Rubber Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites http://bit.ly/djp09o #motorcycle

  30. Added a Digg button to help spread the word about Motorcyclist stealing online content. Digg it up and pass it on plz! http://bit.ly/djp09o

  31. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Shows How Completely Incompetant http://bit.ly/djp09o

  32. TeeJay says:

    I don’t get it. You share on facebook, you provide RSS feed, then you claim someone displays your feed. What”s the point. Sounds like storm in a teacup…

  33. @TechCrunch this might interest you: Print Publication Caught Stealing Content from Bloggers – http://bit.ly/djp09o

  34. Brammofan says:

    Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – http://bit.ly/c22QBs

  35. Source Interlink proves once again it's the devil: http://bit.ly/bBF735

  36. Davin Black says:

    @ Jenny: keyp up teh gud werk lol

    @TeeJay: I won’t lie – I had to Google “Storm in a teacup”….never heard the reference.

    Regarding your question, Motorcyclist copied A&R articles, word-for-word, and put them on their site – effectively claiming said articles as their original work. As Jensen pointed out (did you read the article…?), that’s not legal. Without giving credit to A&R while also publishing entire articles, they steal A&R’s web traffic using work that they didn’t produce.

  37. heavy-duty says:

    I disagree wit what Motorcyclist Online is doing; not giving credit where credit is due but it’s not like AR doesn’t plagiarize info off of the internet to write their stories. That’s what the Internet is, a huge library of data for everyone to share. The fact that AR has tweeted about everyone who’s “stolen” material tells me they’re also checking out competition to see what they are posting. It’s all a game. I wouldn’t stress over it; I’d just suck it up and be flattered someones copying you.

  38. heavy-duty,

    Plagiarism is the taking of another’s work, and passing it off as your own….that’s very different from covering the same story as another publisher. Of course we read what other people write! That’s good journalism! But we don’t copy their words and pass them off as our own, which is what you’re accusing us of doing.

    For the record, every site that we’ve tweeted about as “stealing” from us, were sites that we were tipped off about. I take umbrage in being lumped in with these sort of sites that either just re-publish press releases, or copy wholesale sites like ours.

  39. I believe the appropriate meme is FAIL http://bit.ly/bBF735

  40. Shorty says:

    Since Catterson took over, I feel Motorcyclist has decreased it’s effectiveness and appeal.
    A shame really, but garnered a little pity in poor choice of direction and staff.
    Now It appears he and his crew’s quest for edgy word smithing has gone from subjective drivel to out-right PIRACY! Not only is it criminal it’s down right Pathetic.

    Although it maybe flattering to be copied, unlike what we/I am writing on now, an open forum, The plagiarism was on a site intended for profit. I, we typing here are not recieving any advertising fee’s or compensation of anykind. Pleasure is pleasure, but bussiness is bussiness.

    Maybe Motorcyclist is suffering, just trying to survive? Maybe it’s just another case of poor judgement. Maybe It seems like an underhanded way for Motorcyclist to conduct bussiness, but don’t they all do-it, it’s just the internet right?
    Maybe, maybe, maybe are just excuses.
    What it appears to be is a blatant Rip-off!

    The author and or owner of said intellectual property gets ripped-off, the advertisers get ripped-off, the readers get ripped-off…
    No one likes getting ripped-off,
    Rip-Offs suck.

  41. RT @brammofan: Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – http://bit.ly/c22QBs

  42. TeeJay says:

    @Davin Black:
    I’ve checked the Motorcyclist’s buzz before posting a reply: it was not operating like it was written in this article. For me it seems to be a regular RSS aggregator. I’d rather say the web-programmer (or the one who ordered the work) was a noob and made mistake – rather then saying it was intensional theft… People tend to think “…and there was the web/computer”, and not consider how much work is behind it.

    “Storm in a teacup” is a British/Aussie term and a fine song from RHCP. :)

  43. Shorty says:

    It appears Motorcyclist has made an adjustment to “Buzz.” Perhaps the the little problem was a bit bigger than a Storm in a tea cup. Even bigger than a Tempest in a Teapot. haha

  44. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: @TechCrunch this might interest you: Print Publication Caught Stealing Content from Bloggers – http://bit.ly/djp09o

  45. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Including A&R – http://bit.ly/djp09o #motorcycle

  46. RT @MotoPress: RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Including A&R – http://bit.ly/djp09o #motorcycle

  47. This is retarded, how did they think they weren’t going to get busted? I retweeted this to my followers, for what that’s worth.

  48. Rolf says:

    Lame but expected. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Print Publication Caught Stealing Content from Bloggers – http://bit.ly/djp09o

  49. Seriously? says:

    So, you surf the internet looking for motorcycle related news stories that have already been written and covered by other organizations. Then you take those articles, read through them and then re-write the same story but in your own words? And this is what you call an “original story” written by A&R?

    In most cases that I can see from the articles you so proudly display on your website you were not actually at the event to cover the events as they happened. Sure you do write some of your own articles without pointing to a source for your thoughts and for that I give you credit. But the rest of the articles you post are nothing more than the same story rehashed from another website or news source. The idea for the story is not technically original if you had to get the idea from another source without a first hand eye witness account.

    Give me a break!

  50. @Seriously

    Nigel,

    You’ve got some interesting conceptions on what an original work is, and I’ll just leave my comments at that. I especially liked the part where you copied our article on your site (bikerholic.com), and defended the action by saying someone emailed our post to you. Whether that’s the case or not, you still took another person’s work, put it on your site, and passed it off as your own. Basically, you’re saying you plagiarized a plagiarist. I’m not sure that’s making your case any better.

    An interesting point though, A&R was the only American publication at EICMA this year (from what we could see in the press room, and on the show floor), and besides MCN the only English speaking publication…yet every major site seemed to cover the launch of the Multistrada 1200, MV F4, etc. How could that be? The entire industry must be devoid of any original work!!!

    Anyways, I know I didn’t publicly accept your apology, and would like to do so now. We all make mistakes (I know I have), and I thought it was pretty classy that you admitted to it. This post makes me think you might have been a little disingenuous with that apology, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and accept it warmly once again.

    Regards,
    Jensen Beeler

    PS. next time don’t bother with the proxy server when you post, they’re not as anonymous as you think.

  51. Davin Black says:

    This site just gets better and better XD

  52. Shorty says:

    Wow, some body part licking sycophant seriously had a nerve struck.

  53. Bikerholic says:

    Firstly, I didn’t use a proxy and ‘Seriously’ isn’t me, I didn’t write that comment. It was already there. The response I tried to post is displayed on Bikerholic.

    Secondly, you have a problem with your site script – It wouldn’t allow me to post. Instead it kept coming up with a cookies and javascript error when I hit the send button.

    What would be the point of using a proxy, then adding all my details to the post?

  54. Brammofan says:

    @jenny ” Having them deny it. And then pointing out all the words they magically spelled wrong just like we did.” Of course! Now I see that the spelling and grammar errors aren’t errors at all. They are all just a part of your ingenious plan to snare plagiarists. Brilliant!

    @Bikerholic: We want to believe you, but remember that two of the biggest hurdles of bikerholism are admitting to yourself that you are a bikerholic, and that you are powerless over your addiction. (Google “12 steps” for more guidance). There are many readers on this blog who share your affliction and maybe one of them would agree to be your sponsor. But first you have to ask for help. Good luck.

  55. Jenny Gun says:

    @Brammofan: Random factoid for today: I was told the other day intentional typos are called “canary traps”.

  56. As reader of both MM (magazine only) and A & R, I feel that using words like “completely incompetent” and “theft” displays insecurity and lack of confidence. Most of us know they are biased (suck) and their site is a sidebar advertisement to their magazine business.

    I try to always remember [when I am writing] that folks see deeper into my words (almost personally) rather than just the content of the article. Yes there are deep thinkers other than us out there!

    Be proud that they “stole” your stuff! They are still way more magazine focused than web based. You folks at A&R have a niche on the web that can never be filled by the “man”

    Stand proud and stop playing the victim. I would have based the article content on: “Look at us! We rule school! the big guys read us and cribbed us!” Positive-positive not negative my writer brother!! ALWAYS! just my 2 cents

    Jeff

  57. pwr says:

    You know, I don’t in any way support what they did–and I have a background in Z law, so I do understand your grievance–but it seems to me that there were two ways to handle this. One is the way you did it: confrontationally, with little room left for them to even apologize. Did you even contact them before you blogged this? Did you consider the other way, leaving maybe just a LITTLE room for benefit of the doubt and asking them to reformat their aggregator so it might funnel traffic a little bit more efficiently to your site?

    One thing I have learned in the thirty-five years I’ve been riding: motorcycling is not a very large world, at least in this country. At a certain level, you keep bumping into the same people, year after year, all over the place–Daytona, Indianapolis, Pickerington, Milan, etc. Take a deep breath and count to ten before you burn your next bridge.

  58. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Motorcyclist Magazine Steals From Online Motorcycle News Sites – Shows How Completely Incompetent http://bit.ly/djp09o