Content thieves: I want to punch you in the face

Ian Lurie

Lucky for all of us, I’m a pathetic weakling.
Still, I am blogging angry. Furniture-throwing, people-punching, burn-your-business-to-the-ground and then watch you weep over the ashes angry.
Your typical plagiarism I can deal with. I booby-trap pages and send pissy e-mails. I’m OK with all of this. Most of these people are stupid – they’re using scrapers, etc. without bothering to learn how they work.
But ‘professional marketers’ who brazenly steal content for their own company sites are different. They’re evil. They’re not qualified marketers and they know it. To fool unwitting potential customers, they steal someone else’s copywriting.
So, scumbags, from now on you’re going to get new treatment: I’m going to out you and your lazy, incompetent, dishonest businesses for the entire world to see.

How this started

I thought I’d search for a sentence on one page of my company web site. I saw this result, and my jaw dropped:
I started to look at some of these sites. There’s some amazing stuff, like:
The press release where a marketing agency stole the first sentence of our home page:
Who could be so careless? Apparently, Flex360. Wonder what they’ll do when they market your business… (Flex360 has removed the plagiarized content – thank you!)
Then there’s the idiot who plagiarized our services page and put it in his LinkedIn profile:
If you employ a guy named Kamran Ashfaq, check your wallet. He may have stolen from you, too. He’s too stupid to even delete my company’s name when he steals, but play it safe.
Hype Internet Marketing was more efficient, basically creating their entire home page with our writing:
If you use Hype Internet Marketing, you might want to search a few sentences of copy from your own site and make sure they didn’t steal that, too. Or, just fire them and hire an agency that doesn’t use plagiarism as a marketing strategy.
The Alternative Solutions site is so ugly they should’ve copied our design, too:
Servo Marketing apparently thought stealing our writing and surrounding it with their own crap would make it OK:
My favorite, though, is Strawberry Jam Marketing, who even with runaway plagiarism, could only manage a 1-page web site:
It’s an endless list. If I pick any starting sentence, anywhere on my site, there’s a parade of worthless marketing wannabes copying it in an effort to dupe a few paying clients before they go out of business.

There is no excuse

Don’t protest how you hired a writer and you didn’t know they were stealing. You frakking idiot, you are responsible for their work. You take one sentence from their writing, put it in quotes, and search for that on Google. Instant plagiarism test.
Don’t tell me how ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’. That’s sort of like saying ‘beating you to death and stealing your shoes shows I respect your fashion sense’.
Plus: You are (supposedly) a marketer!. Flex360, Servo Marketing, all the rest of you, you all mention copywriting and marketing messaging or some such as part of your services. How can you do that when you can’t even develop your own?
There is no excuse for this crap.

If you’ve hired these firms/people….

…think very carefully about whether you should continue to work with them. When they had a choice between honest work and outright theft, they chose theft. Doesn’t mean they’ll steal content for your site.
It does mean that ethically they’re pretty shaky. Do you want them selling your products? Would you hire a child care provider who steals? How about a doctor who faked his medical degree? Or a lawyer who’s a shoplifter? Didn’t think so. And this is no different.
It also means, frankly, that they are, at best, grossly negligent. Really, did they think no one would catch them? Or did they not know to check their writers’ work? Either way, they’re not too bright.

So, now what?

What do we do now? I don’t know. Maybe I just keep outing agencies that steal. I can do it for months. It’ll be a fun weekly post.
Or maybe, you get a clue, check your content, stop making excuses, and write your own goddamned copy.

Related rants and therapy

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Ian, I’m trembling. I used your 10 questions to ask a social media expert as a basis for what *I* would do as a social media expert. I assure you it was all linked and cited.
    But, Well, THEY are all losers!

  2. No kidding, Ian! We bloggers have to stand together against this and put an end to it!
    The worst part is that there are companies out there every day writing and marketing software to steal our hard work. They actually publish programs that trawl the web for articles based on whatever keywords you supply and lift them, even rearranging them and replacing words with synonyms in some cases.
    These companies need to be shut down, but it’s hard to do since most of them aren’t from the countries we’re working out of.
    The people using our work we CAN do something about, though.

  3. Oh man I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to see these jerks try to defend themselves in the comments on this post.
    I remember way back when a scummy competitor stole some of our copy and how incredibly frustrating it was; I hope these guys go down in flames!

  4. @Chris no need to tremble. First, citation is the lifeblood of all of us bloggers, so I’m thrilled when folks use my stuff and link back to me. Second, I write the blog for that very purpose.
    It’s when morons steal the content, don’t cite or link back AND use it to fool others into thinking the morons are qualified that I get angry.

  5. Amazing.
    Have you notified Google?
    Its almost worth setting up a new domain – and optimising the hell out of it to get it ranking above the real flex site!

  6. Hi Ian!
    I do have one question: Is one sentence enough?
    (and I don’t mean when even your name is there!)
    But coming from the 10,000 monkeys on typewriters side.
    As an example, the industry I am in is training and e-Learning.
    And when you work in this industry, a frequent topic is that training has to be performed in ways that meet the learning needs of us humans.
    And in the Biz, we generally call this “starting from first principles”
    My point being, if I take any couple of the 80,000 words in the English language and then include the “starting from first principles” part
    I would bet a paycheck that I would get a hit on that from somewhere!
    Simply because there is only so many ways a phrase can be worded!
    Best regards

  7. @Elliot Usually I’d say no. But in all of the cases in my post, there were multiple instances of theft – I just pointed out the funniest ones. Also, sometimes it’s just too painfully clear.

  8. UNBELIEVABLE! I cannot believe how many actual instances you found Ian. I would also like to hit these punk ass content jackers with a left hook and knock some sense into them. Thanks for taking the time to actually find real examples of these perpetrators. Their time will be short lived.

  9. I agree that agencies should be wiser than to copy copy. Furthermore, be careful to check any so called “fresh content” that clients give you to load into their web sites (coming from a web design firm perspective).

  10. Hi there Ian, take a look at this:
    It’s a Dutch translation of your article ’10 questions to evaluate an SEO’. I know he didn’t ask you, no credits to you or anything. The basterd. When I commented and told him he shouldn’t steal and pretend it’s his content he just deleted the comment…
    Knowing I once asked you if you agreed with me translating some of your articles to Dutch…. take him to court!! Or at least punch him!!

  11. Your website has been one of my favorite finds in my research on a how to hire SEOs ebook for a client…and I’m glad I’ve stuck around. Good for you for not holding back. These fools deserve to be called out.

  12. I write several blogs and when I found my personal pet favorite had been raided I was livid. And a colleague gave me that”imitation is the sincerest blah blah blah. Two people I want to punch now. Great post, calling them out by name.

  13. Websites steal my product copy all the time. Legal won’t do anything about it, because the websites are peddling our products via the stolen copy, so it’s all good. Still ticks me off, though. I’m not talking about little mom-and-pop affiliates, either…these are fairly well-known sites in our category. They can’t afford a writer? Grrrr.

  14. I vote for a weekly post outing the thefts. But for those dumb enough to keep your company name in the stolen copy I say we go slap them silly. We can call it an SEO road trip.

  15. Ian, I definitly feel your pain. Integrity is something that people have seemed to have forgotten about. People would rather give up their creativity and settle for stealing someone else’s. Shocking. For instance, I recently shipped some cars to Finland using Auto Shipping Network;very professional individuals, after using another shiping company that had “no integity” to say the least. If you ever need a car shipped overseas, look up Keep up the good work Ian.

  16. Horrible loosers, they are! That’s the problem with the internet, they can use everything you have worked for and what can you do. You’re doing the right thing by putting them in your post! At least it is a warning!

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