Syndication and Theft

Matt Gemmell has a truly fantastic article about dealing with republication requests — something that is a must read for anyone who makes and sells things on the web (even if that is just a blog) because if you get a popular post two things will happen: You will get those annoying emails Matt references. […]

Matt Gemmell has a truly fantastic article about dealing with republication requests — something that is a must read for anyone who makes and sells things on the web (even if that is just a blog) because if you get a popular post two things will happen:

  1. You will get those annoying emails Matt references.
  2. Someone will outright steal your content and post it on their site.

I’ve had both happen a lot. The best way to deal with number one is to have fun, the best way to deal with number two is to be forceful.

On the first I typically respond: Yes, the fee is $5,000 payable to me in advance. Let me know if you need me to fill out a W9. That ends the conversation right there, even if I put $5 as the price the conversation would be over. The thing is, people don’t see monetary value so they think you are greedy no matter what. And if they don’t think you are greedy, at least they know your price.

For the second, once I find out about it (usually because they have an ‘attribution’ link back to my site hidden somewhere) I send off a terse email. Usually saying: “Whether intentional or not, you’ve stolen my work. You need to remove it immediately, and if you do not remove it I will pursue full legal action, starting with a cease and desist from my attorney. This matter is urgent.”

That scares off most people, and (surprisingly) slimy sites like Business Insider will quickly comply, but work to secure rights to your post. Just be firm and tell them to fuck off. Here’s the thing, you need an attorney that you can call. Not on retainer, but you need to know one so you can toss out a Google-able name. And it takes a bit because attorney’s need to do “conflict” checks first. (You are looking for a copyright attorney, by the way.)

More Fun

Even more fun is the most common email I get: link share requests.

Here’s an actual email:

Hello, My name is [redacted] and I represent a number of leading online companies that function in various fields: gaming, sports, international flower delivery and finance. I had visited your site http://brooksreview.net recently and was impressed by its content. I believe that it could be suitable for a number of my clients. I would like to offer that we purchase textual or banner advertisements from you to host your site. If this would be of interest to you please contact me by return email, and we can begin discussing details. Hope to hear from you soon.

I get these about once a week, more when I am heavily linked to. Here’s how I respond, in almost every case:

For flower ads the price is $100,000 a month, all other ad types are a $150,000 a month.

I respond like this, because — honestly — if they paid me those rates I’d do it in a heartbeat.1 But the thing is, I set a price, now this person can either meet it or fuck off. Either way, I don’t care. Is it spam? Yeah, mostly, but who cares. Because sometimes you get this response:

These price are for banner, I assume? I would like to know your prices for a sponsored post.

That’s really the response from my above response and it’s awesome. Just for shits and giggles I responded:

Sponsored post is $25,000.

Because, after all, why not? (No response to that last one unfortunately.)


  1. I used to, as people on Twitter way back know, respond with a “It’s $15million for a lifetime ad.” But times are tough, I get that.