Skweezer – when copy theft becomes a business model

I was surprised to find this morning when reviewing stats for my Sexdotcom.info site that a site called Skweezer.net has appeared.

I was even more surprised when I followed links through and found that this website has grabbed a large chunk of the content on my site and stored it on its own servers. This is what is commonly called copyright infringement, a more polite way of saying theft.

So I started doing a quick bit of researching on Skweezer.net and found, incredibly, that people are nominating this company for awards.

What Skweezer does is this: runs its software over a website and reformats it so it can be easily viewed on a PDA or mobile device. It stores and caches this information and then relies on people inputting URLs into its website to give them the PDA-version. But its version has ads on the top and bottom of the page – which is where it makes its money.

Except of course, there is nothing wrong with my Sexdotcom.info site when viewed on a PDA. I know because I have just checked it on my PDA and my mobile phone. It’s not perfect, but it is very easily navigated and all the text is clear, as are all links. In fact, having viewed the Skweezer version, I think that my version is actually better.

And that brings us to the unfortunate reality that Skweezer is in fact stealing the original content I have produced on my site and is making money off the back of advertising by purporting to offer a service that isn’t actually needed.

I have blocked the company from accessing my site through their IP address (I’m not the only one) and they’ll be getting a letter from me.

Update:
Okay, I’ve done a bit more research and it would seem that it’s not only me that is thinks it a little unreasonable that a company takes all your content and use it itself to make money. I found this irate man posting from January 2005. It would appear that Skweezer started out by stealing blog content, and has now expanded to stealing website content.

Let me make this clear: I have spent years, literally, learning about a topic, interviewing the people, learning about the law, following the twists and turns, meeting the people, talking to them, grasping the complexities. And then I have written about it, and published it. And a company has decided it will take that material and make money from it, even though it hasn’t a clue what those words actually mean.

It is copyright infringement and fortunately that argument was won several hundred years ago. Skweezer is not long for this world. Someone is going to sue the hell out of it.
/Update

Update 2:
The company has a blog. A blog which it has shifted to avoid a lot of aggressive comments last year, from http://greenlightwireless.net/blog/ to http://blog.greenlightwireless.net/. Although, having sent a response to a recent blog post, it would seem that the reason there are no comments on any of the posts is because the company doesn’t *allow* comments to its post. You can *send* a response but it then enters a company black hole. I don’t know why I’m surprised.
/Update

The one interesting thing about this though is that there is clearly a market out there for making websites simply accessible on mobile devices – something that the new .mobi top-level domain is hoping it can corner the market on.

  1. I couldn’t find your email address anywhere on this site, so I’m having to leave this message here.

    I tried to view the images at http://www.kierenmccarthy.co.uk/2006/03/21/internet-explorer-7-tearing-my-hair-out/

    …and got this:

    Error 404 – Not Found

    Search bar and other tools go here! If you’re reading this, it needs to be implemented, remind me!

    Consider this a reminder 🙂

  2. Fixed. The images got lost on old posts when I jumped ship from Blogware to WordPress.

    Incidentially, Explorer 7 still doesn’t work on my machine. I regret the day I ever installed the beta, my machine hasn’t been the same since.

    Kieren

  3. Just to play devils advocate: Google harvests tons of data from all the sites it can crawl, and provides the _service_ of helping you _find_ the data. It places an advertisement for this service.

    squeezer provides a _service_ of helping you _show_ the data. it places an advertisement for this service.

    if anything, skweezer should adhere to robots.txt.

    As a site operator, it is in your best interest to get as many people viewing your content as possible. People who view your content on their phone will probably view it on their computer.

  4. The implication being that Google is right? Google is not right – check out the Belgium newspapers lawsuit against it for Google News, and Google having to sign an agreement with other media organisations to gain permission to include their copyrighted material on its site.

    This argument that hits and page impressions enable you to turn a blind eye to copy theft – and then the strange leap of logic that if you turn a blind eye it is therefore somehow accepted – is now hopelessly outdated.

    It worked in the early days of the Net but now people go to a lot of trouble to build up their own revenue-raising approaches from their original content. In this modern Net world, taking content from other peoples sites and hosting it on your own for profit is just not allowable.

    The fact is that my site is perfectly viewable using a mobile device – so Skweezer is not even offering a service I do not.

    Kieren

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