Flying Cork’s Reaction to Plagiarism, Part 1

If you haven’t yet read “Our Encounter with Plagiarism” please do so before reading the post below. This is the very true and bizarre conclusion to an actual series of events here at Flying Cork. For the sake of covering everyone’s ass, I will not call out anyone unduly or reward anyone with unearned SEO discovery. I’ve also changed the names of some of the companies involved (they are bold). This distinction is important because EVERYTHING else is true. Every word. All the names, numbers and weird little tidbits are real.

“What is going on here?!”

It was an early Monday morning when Sam asked me if the Interactive team had created a development site for flyingcorkmedia.com. She wanted to know if we were using thatsite as a test site? Perhaps, we had just forgotten to remove the Google Analytics code? She was seeing Twitter traffic that matched up to the imposter site. Heyyyy.

Good questions to ask, but she was asking a guy who started two days prior. I didn’t even know where the printer was. But tell me that someone has stolen our entire site and ripped off all the teams’ hard work?! I forgot about trying to get my email organized and insurance papers completed – this was much more fun! The buzz around the office was amazing to see. Especially the topic of all the fictitious names of our employees. I opened a browser to pull up thatsite… Yep. There it was.

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I looked at the code first to find out how it happened. Tim Snyder noticed it right away. Opening the homepage of thatsite, it was right there in the source code, easy for all to see. The person responsible for ripping off our teams’ code was too lazy and/or foolish enough to remove the proof right there in the code.

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First thing – find out who is responsible

Meanwhile, I went to one of my favorite resources, WhoIs. It is made for this kind of situation. A whois lookup allows you find out who owns, operates and pays for a domain. Many sites offer whois lookup. In this instance, I used the WhoIs Domain Tools and Network Solutions to cross-check the results. It’s the quickest way to get pointed in the right direction.

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The first piece of information I saw in the results was cause for concern. It appeared that a Mr. Odin Wellington had registered the domain on the 15th of November, 2013. That was only three weeks before, but Flying Cork was formed in 2010. Odd.

Register vs. Host

You may hear people say they “own” a domain, but that isn’t quite true. Domains are registered. People can claim the right to use them, but ultimately, the governing bodies of the internet own all domains and keep watch over disputes involving domains…. like this one.

Registering a domain and hosting a domain don’t have to be done with the same company. It is actually good practice to keep them separate so that you can easily move between hosts in the event:

  • your site needs have changed and your new agency recommends a better host

  • you get into a tiff with your web developer

  • your hosting company disappears off the face of the earth

Cheap web hosting sites pop up overnight all the time. Not paying attention to who you host with could leave you without a site and without control over your domain.

This is not war, this is the Internet… There are rules

There are steps you must follow when you find a site stealing your content and you want it to come down. The good news is there is an easy way to get it taken down. You can file a DMCA (Digital Media Copyright Act) takedown notice.

After lunch and out of curiosity, I made a “good faith” call to the person listed as the domain contact in whois. I was able to reach an individual by phone, at , who identified himself as “Roger Dowd”.

Mr. Dowd expressed some shock at the news. He said the site design and development was out-sourced. After asking him to view our site flyingcorkmedia.com, he claimed to have no idea what happened. He assured me that he would contact the vendor “when international business hours permitted.” I explained to him that this site needed to come down immediately. I offered him one day before the attorneys get involved. He asked for my email address and phone number. Little did I realize what I had unknowingly initiated. The silliness that would follow. Glad I did though. It makes for a funny story.

Ok, this story is long. So the boss asked me to break it up. So far, everyone is still wondering why all this happened. At least now we know the ‘who’ – that someone is responsible. But we’re just getting started. This story takes a turn toward the bizarre. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of Flying Cork’s reaction to plagiarism.