I’m a tad annoyed. In fact, I am very annoyed. Very annoyed to discover that some people believe that it is right and proper to take text from my Exchange 2010 SP1: Inside Out book and use it in their web pages. This is just unfair and not at all professional. It’s not what you’d expect from reputable companies and it’s another nail in the prospect of writing new books about Microsoft technology (a topic that I cover in this blog).
The situation is as follows. I was advised by a very smart person that I should look at some pages where I might discover some interesting information. My first port of call was to Exiis Corporation, who are a Microsoft Certified Partner. This accreditation leads you to believe that Exiis might well comply with reasonable standards of business conduct but it appears that it’s OK to take text from published works and hide it in the source of their web pages. If you go to the Exiis page covering their Exchange 2010 services, you’ll see a page that looks similar to that used by many other services companies. [See below for an update: the offending page has now been removed]
But behind the scenes, if you look at the page’s source HTML, you find this interesting material:
This material is extracted from chapter 8 of my Exchange 2010 book. It is possible that this material is in the page source so that it would be indexed by search engines and therefore drive additional page views to the site.
But Exiis is at least subtle. The folks at programming4.us are much more blatant and insist on showing their copied material up front and central on pages such as “Exchange Server 2010: Day-to-Day DAG management“. I am sure that it was quick to steal my material but it’s also easily detected
Once again, it’s chapter 8 that provides the popular material, maybe because it’s extremely well-written and cogent. Or maybe it’s just because the people responsible for these sites won’t do the bloody hard work that is required to understand the technology and then explain it as simply and clearly as possible.
It would have been intelligent had Programming4.US tried to disguise the source of the material but they didn’t even do some fundamental cut and pasting to change terms like “DAG-Dublin” (which are probably only ever going to be used by an Irish author) to something more generic, such as “DAG1”. Duh!
To say that I am disappointed to discover this situation would be an understatement. I’m mad at companies that misuse my work. And I would welcome the help of any and all who read this article to avoid using the services of companies who steal copyrighted material and effectively function as parasites on the back of the technology community. I know that I shall take every opportunity that is presented in the future to damn these people to where they can do no damage. An Irishman riled is not a pretty sight!
Update (late Friday evening): The CEO of Exiis has been in contact with me. According to him, the problem is due to a “web part or search malfunction”. I don’t know if I understand this assertion because the text from the book is included in the HTML source of the page. Nevertheless, I am assured that the information is being eliminated from the page as I type. We shall see…
Update 2 (Saturday, 6am Ireland). Some progress is being made. Microsoft Legal has contacted the offending parties and asked for the material to be taken down from the web sites. I note that Exiis has replaced their pages with an “Under Construction” notice. Their CEO assures me that their SharePoint server has been flushed to remove any cached data. I still don’t understand how text extracted from the book ended up in the source HTML for pages though!
I notified the people at Programming.Us that they had misused some of my content and received the response shown below. Whereas Exiis at least immediately took proactive steps to remove the content, Programming.Us didn’t seem to be the least perturbed to have been found out. I do not know who these people are but I don’t think I would ever do business with a company that exhibits such questionable business ethics.
Update (Saturday, 4pm): The nice people from Programming4.us replied to me to tell me how they managed to get the material from my book that appeared on their site. I am taken aback by the sheer “I don’t care” kind of attitude in the response:
I paid for my contributors to write the article and send it back to me, but I did not expect was that they copy from books or from internet. ”
I’ve asked Programming4.US to provide me with the name of their contributors. I doubt that they will give me the name but it’s worth asking. Several notes that I have from other authors indicate that this site is replete with plagiarized information taken from books and articles and indeed, I’ve been pointed to another page that these fine people lifted from my Exchange 2010 book covering the topic of unique database names.
As a reader doesn’t have to pay for the material, the Programming4.US business model must be ad-based and they are using material stolen from others to drive page views. I doubt that the advertisers who appear on this site understand the kind of business ethics favored by Programming4.US, but I doubt that they do.
On the upside, I have been in further communication with the CEO of Exiis Corporation and I believe that they have taken the appropriate steps to erase any trace of the the material from their web site. There is some doubt as to how the material turned up in the HTML source but I can certainly understand that mistakes do happen and that things do go wrong at times, especially with technology. I hope that Exiis Corporation can now put this sorry episode behind them and no further occurrence is detected.
Update (Sunday, 10am): More from Programming4.US, who seem quite unabashed about the whole situation and cheerfully reveal more about the seamy underside of knowledge acquisition. Essentially, the people who provide content for the Programming4.US site find one of the (unfortunately) many sites that hold PDF copies of technical books and grab whatever they need from content developed by others.
I had a look at the site in question and found copies of just about every Exchange 2010 book that I know about. Most of the download sites pointed to by the entry for my book seem to have been forced to remove the PDF due to legal action, which is good, but the problem with sites like this is that they pop up, are used for illegal downloads, and then disappear again. Of course, no one can be sure that going to one of the download sites might not cause some kind of virus or other unwanted code to be passed to a PC, so that’s just another issue.
The coordinating site appears to be based in Russia and has a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Policy notice. I have followed the instructions contained in this notice and protested the availability of my book on the site. We shall see what they say.