If Someone Steals Your Content Is It Legal To Hack Them?

Plagiarism is a hot topic in the infosec community right now – search for correlan.be and infosecinstitute.com to see what I mean. I myself have also experienced it in a far more common manner – lazy people looking to make some easy cash have often used tools to scape my content and place it on their own web site. So what can you, and what should you, do if someone steals your content?

content theft

Revenge is a dish best served cold

That is a famous Shakespeare line that a lot of people can relate to. It is human nature to want to both defend yourself and get even when someone does you wrong. We cannot help it. We are born that way. While some people are able to walk away and ignore their darker impulses, other people cannot and they want to get revenge on the people who have wronged them.

When you are active on the web by either making money or having it as a hobby, you tend to really care about the content that you create. A small portion of the web actually makes content. Even though it seems like these days most people are a content maker that is simply not true. Most people do not bother and they just enjoy consuming others peoples’ content. At most they might make a very long comment to their favorite blog. Or they will comment on Facebook once a day to other people on their time line.

But for the people who do make actual content, they take the time to make sure that people are actually going to enjoy it. Whatever the style of content, they want to make sure that it fits to their audience. So this is why, if someone steals their content and uses it as their own, they get very upset. They want to make sure that the masses know that they were the ones who created the content first and not the person who stole it. This is why sometimes they might go too far in trying to protect their name. I will talk about that later on in the article. But for right now let’s focus on why people steal someone else’s content.

Why steal other people’s content?

There are two reasons why someone would steal another person’s content. They would steal it because it is profitable or they want to be able to enhance their own reputation. In the beginning of the web we used to see more of the second reason but now we are starting to see more of the first reason as being the main culprit. I will talk about the second reason first.

Enhancing your reputation

On the web, whoever can be the most creative is king. People tend to flock to others who make interesting content. On the web that can mean a great many things. For example, the person can be a great artist and is able to manipulate Photoshop well. These types of people make interesting and thought provoking graphics that are important to the web. Or the person can be great at creating video. The video format is very important to the web now. People really enjoy watching an interesting video when they are online.

These days the content that really draws the most people to the web is the written word. People are drawn to good writers on the web for several reasons. One, the person may be able to create interesting stories that you want to read about. Or two, the person has a lot of information that you can use in your daily life. They might not be a great writer but the posts that they create are very informative.

So if you are someone who is not very good at any of this then to make yourself look good you steal from others. Now people come to you and you become important on the web. But it being the web, there is a good chance that you will get caught.

For pay

Great content of the type I talked about earlier attracts people from all over the web. If you need people to visit your web site then make sure that you create great content. Some people are not able to do that. So they steal the content from other people and place it on their web site. So now they are making money by people coming to their web site through the use of advertising. Some people even go as far as selling the content that they have stolen.

Revenge

So when you find out that someone is stealing your content, as I said earlier, it can cause you to become very angry. Not only have they taken your work but they may have taken away any potential income from that work as well. This can cause you to want to take revenge such as hacking their web site. This is not a good idea. Just because someone has done you wrong, you cannot commit an illegal act back to them. It is just better to get the authorities involved in some capacity, be that lawyers, search engines or the offender’s web host.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. I have a friend who has had photos taken an placed on another website an the person that did it claimed they were theirs.
    I would think it happens a lot more than what is known about, esp with written things.
    I prefer the original owner gets credit so i just post the links to interesting things maybe with a short snipit added to the link just to get interest in looking at the page.

    • Yeah, I think it happens far too often. Years back, for instance, I had a history site site that got copied in it’s entirety so many times that it led to me giving up on it completely. If only I knew then what I know now…

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