Somebody’s selling Google ads for your PR blog (and it’s not you)

Summary: Excerpts of postings from PR blogs are republished, with new permalinks, on pages featuring Google ads. Do their authors know about and approve this practice?

More: Please check this address:

It’s called "PR Commentary – Public relations, PR and publicity comments and information to help you get more publicity," and its banner reads "Don Crowther’s".

At first glance, the blog seems to be just a feed aggregator. But it’s more than that. An aggregator will use the RSS feeds of a number of blogs to display titles of postings (linking back to originals) and short text excerpts. PR Commentary creates another permalink for each posting, and for some of them it just reproduces their entire content. And it’s adding ads to each of them.

So, let’s say that Tom Murphy just published his musings, titled Blogging about PR blogs blogging about blogging, on PR Opinions; they are mirrored, on a different permalink, by PR Commentary. The only difference between the two postings is that the page hosted by PR Commentary has five Google Ads (three on the side, and two at the bottom of the page), all PR-related.

At the bottom of each page there is a line saying "Copyright 2005 by 101PublicRelations." No authors are indicated for postings, although they are providing a link back to the original.

Need more examples?

And so on.

The pages hosting monthly archives are featuring nine Google ads each: four at the top and five on the right side menu. The archives are going back as far as August 31, 2004.

From August to November, only Greg Brooks‘s and Don Crowther’s blog were "aggregated." Starting from December, Kevin Dugan’s Strategic PR and Ben Silverman’s PR Fuel were added. Postings from the following blogs were added in January:

… and there might be more, but I ran out of patience in trying to identify them.

A notable "new entry" in February: Jay Rosen’s PressThink.

What is striking is that all these authors (except for one) don’t have ads on their weblogs. I highly doubt that they know of or approve of the use of their postings for making money with Google Ads.

Am I wrong?


  1. I see this site on my traffic logs, and have stopped by, but assumed it was simply an aggregator. But even then, not a very good one. It seems to show it’s lack of credibility simply by its busy (ad-ridden) design.

    We’re lucky this is the first example we’ve seen. A friend writes a blog on poker and has had many attempts at people scraping his content for their benefit.

    What are our options for recourse?

  2. Thanks, Constantin. I’m glad to know someone is watching my back. That blog-detective class you took down in Florida clearly paid off :) I have two thoughts here – are we all missing an opportunity to make ad money on our blogs – do we sell out by monetizing the content? – how does the CC License play here? Talk to you soon!

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  4. Thanks, Constantin.

    I’ve seen the site in my referrer logs, so I’ve assumed that it is driving traffic back to my site. As Steve says, I don’t mind the extra distribution, but I suppose I should be more upset about the abuse of content.

    I didn’t say theft, because I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to establish a Creative Commons licence, but it is mildly offensive.

    I suppose I could block the site’s IP, so it couldn’t scrape.

  5. Kevin, Colin – the simplest thing to do would be to contact the owner of the site, and ask him to delete all the postings that are mirroring your postings, and to eliminate your weblog from his aggregator. The contact info are here.

    Matthew, I got you covered :) I don’t think that having 4-5 Google Ads on YOUR blog means you’re selling out. With as little time as (I suppose) you have for blogging, I don’t think you’ll waste a second thinking on what to write in order to improve the SEO of your blog, so that your ads will bring more money. About the CC license: you have a Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivs 2.0 license on your blog; the "aggregator" I mentioned doesn’t give you credit as an author (it doesn’ respect the "attribution"), and it makes money (or at least has the mean of making money) off your content, so it doesn’t look like being a "noncommercial" use of your writing.

  6. Thanks for this, Constantin.

    Good point re Creative Commons. My first thought was re that. The license I have on my blog includes the phrase “Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.” It seems to me that this blog is using everyone’s work for commercial purposes, entirely without any permission.

    I suppose I might feel less pissed off about it if the guy who writes the blog had asked. But I guess he wouldn’t do that if he intended to repurpose the content and package it all up the way he has, and present it all as part of his commercial offering.

    So what’s to be done about it? Well, writing to him as you suggest is probably the only thing other than getting a lawyer involved. And will writing make any difference? Hard to tell. But I had a situation in January where a blog in Asia was republishing much of my posts and making it look like it was their stuff. So I wrote to them, and they stopped doing it. So it’s worth a go.

    If that doesn’t work, then the only comfort is the thought that his stealing and repurposing of content at least provides some additional exposure. One thing I noticed is that he at least includes a link to the original posts. It’s just that I really don’t like the idea that’s this guy is making money out of something he had no part in creating.

  7. Neville, I think he will respond to your call; after all, has a long, careful crafted page dedicated to terms of use.

    As for the “additional exposure” – I’m not sure that it’s beneficial. Will your writing benefit from being associated with such a website? Is it good that your postings are mirrored by it on permalinks (others than your blog’s) that are showing in Google and in blog search engines?

    As far as I’m concerned, I’ll look to find out more information about “fair use” and about what the Creative Commons licenses really mean. I’m not sure anymore that I want to give to everybody the right to “copy, distribute, display, and perform the work.” And that applies to the content of my RSS feed, too.

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  9. Thanks Constantin. I had a good think about this after leaving my comment, so I wrote what I think on my blog (and I see the trackback to your post worked).

    No, in my view, going along with what they’re doing is not worth the extra exposure.

  10. Update: The title of the blog has been changed, from PR Commentary to PR Blog Watch. And a note was added on the right side of the page:

    We provide a public service to the Public Relations and Marketing communities by aggregating the best PR-related blog postings into a single, easy to read format.
    Want to get more publicity by having your PR-related blog listed here? Want to change your listing? Click here to let us know.

  11. Hello everyone,

    I’m just wondering what you all think about the following re-publishing practice:

    Article title (with link to original article)
    First 100-200 words of article
    Article source (with link to source)

    a) no archives
    b) no full-text articles

    Also, how do you see this in comparison to:
    a) Search engines (they do the same, in a way)
    b) Other online content aggregators (such as PubSub,, Moreover etc.)
    c) Web-based RSS aggregators, such as Bloglines (because, in technical terms, there isn’t much difference)

    Thank you for your comments,

    Rok Hrastnik

  12. Seems to me the dollars involved are too small to worry about at this point. I don’t think it hurts the credibility of any of the bloggers whose work is borrowed. And it provides additional exposure.

  13. Thanks, Constantin.

    I don’t mind the extra distribution and I’ve heard some others are happy to have coveted content to be distributed. But, it looks like everyone 101 Public Relations is simply a money making aggregator.

    I think you can block the site’s IP.

  14. This is Don, owner of

    First, I wish to thank Constantin and those who have made comments on this post – your words have helped us to recognize several things that needed revision on this, the beta version of our site. We have made a number of changes over the last several days, and have several more in the works right now that will be implemented before we come out of beta.

    Those who saw our site before will see that a number of those changes have already been implemented.

    There are two additional key elements that we are in the process of changing:
    1. Not asking permission to include a blog in the aggregation
    2. Not providing attribution

    We have just sent out emails to each of the sites currently being aggregated, asking their permission to include their posts in our aggregation. Those who deny that permission will have their posts removed from the site. If anyone who should have, didn’t receive that email, please let me know through our contact us page on the site

    Our programmer has now identified and is currently in the process of adding attribution in two places to the posts (including a copyright notice stating that this post is the property of the original poster), further increasing the positive publicity that those whose posts are included in the aggregation will receive.

    We also appreciate the many others who have requested that we add their blog to our aggregator as a result of this discussion. They have recognized some of the advantages of being featured on this site, including:

    – You get more publicity for your blog
    PR Blog Watch, in spite of the fact that it is still in its beta version, is rapidly becoming one of the most popular services on the net. PR practitioners and marketers like it because it saves them time and aggregates the best posts into one location. The result is that you get more publicity and a larger audience for your blog than you would normally receive.

    – You get more traffic to your blog
    Popular posts on PR Blog Watch often result in literally hundreds of incremental visitors coming to your site, reading your posts, and becoming one of your raving fans. And, since we only run the content you include in your RSS feed, if you structure your feed to provide less than the full content of your posts, readers are naturally drawn to click our “read more” button, pulling them into your site to finish reading the post.

    – You get additional links into not only your blog but to each individual post
    This will help you improve your search engine rankings.

    – You are recognized by the public as one of the top PR bloggers
    By having your blog listed on PR Blog Watch, you join a unique group of the top PR-related bloggers. It’s tough to get that kind of publicity anywhere else.

    – This service is totally free
    Because we are advertiser supported, there is no charge for having your feed included in PR Blog Watch.

    Again, we appreciate the commentary that we have seen on this program – it has helped us tremendously in creating a service that will better benefit both the PR community and the bloggers we are aggregating.

    Finally, we invite other PR Bloggers to consider the advantages and disadvantages of adding their feed to our aggregator. If you decide to do so, we’ll review your blog, and, if appropriate, add it to our aggregation. You can find instructions to apply on the site.

    Thanks for all of your feedback!

  15. Don, I’m glad that you decided to change the way you’re using the blogs’ RSS feeds on your website.

    In the future, please don’t use the comments on this blog to promote your "services", like you did in the previous comment with your "aggregator".

    But, since you have already written about the presumed advantages of being "featured" on your website, let’s look at them.

    You say that PR Blog Watch is "rapidly becoming one of the most popular services on the net" – but you don’t offer any proof to back up this statement.

    You say that:

    Popular posts on PR Blog Watch often result in literally hundreds of incremental visitors coming to your site, reading your posts, and becoming one of your raving fans.

    But, again, you provide no proof. I wonder why.

    You say:

    You get additional links into not only your blog but to each individual post. This will help you improve your search engine rankings."

    I might be wrong, but I think that having two different permalinks with the same title and content will decrease the search engine rankings for postings.

    [by being featured on my webite] "You are recognized by the public as one of the top PR bloggers".

    So just because someone’s RSS feed is aggregated by your website, that makes the person a top PR blogger? I think you’re underestimating people’s intelligence.

    One last thing: you might want to make changes also to the following sites administered by you, where you’re adding Google Ads to content republished from Yahoo! News RSS search feeds:

    The Terms of use for Yahoo! News RSS feeds are stating that:

    The feeds are provided free of charge for use by individuals and non-profit organizations for personal, non-commercial uses. We ask that you provide attribution to Yahoo! News in connection with your use of the feeds.

    If you provide this attribution in text, please use: "Yahoo! News." If you provide this attribution with a graphic, please use the Yahoo! News logo that we have included in the feed itself. […]

    We are also including the provider of each individual news story in the feed alongside each headline. Please do not alter this for display. We want our news partners to be attributed for their work.

    Yahoo! might be much more protective with its legal rights that PR bloggers are. And I’m not sure they’ll buy the "you’ll get much more traffic" and "you’ll become a top news source by being aggregated here" type of argument.

  16. Well, I’ve received one of his letters, and am weighing my options.

    I’m most uncomfortable about the neighbourhood of google ads around my content.

    But didn’t Constantin set up a Blogdigger page that accomplished much the same function early last year?

  17. In addition, there’s the PR Perspective aggregator ( which aggregates only the headlines from many PR blogs, with direct links to the blogs on the originating blog. That site also is heavily ad supported.

    With this one, though, I don’t have much issue as the owner is IEntry Inc, who owns Web Pro News and who re-publishes much of my blog content (and that of many others in Constantin’s list of 18 bloggers), and with whom I do have an agreement for them to do so.

    But it all does beg the questions – a lot of PR bloggers are getting a lot of attention from blog aggregators. Is it because PR bloggers write some very interesting things? Or have interesting opinions? Or are just great fodder for content? Or all of the above?

  18. Thanks for exposing this and forcing action.. I don’t like what this guy Crowther is doing and I told him so in my reply to the note he sent me requesting permission. I denied permission.

    I had noticed my posts showing up at his site. I had not noticed that it generates any traffic back to PressThink. Why would it? Everything is right there.

    Phrases like “rapidly becoming one of the most popular services on the net” were just plucked from the air, I’m sure. They have no referent, and no truth content. But they do tell what kind of person you are dealing with.

  19. I have posted this comment on Micro Persuasion andam posting it here as I believe this is an important issue that needs some public attention.

    I’m glad these issues are being discussed now. After seeing more and more ‘linkfarm’ type use of RSS feeds a solid protocol needs to be put in place to educate webmasters. Remember RSS is still relatively new and many webmasters are not aware of the issues.

    There is even software available to buy (I won’t name it here) that is specifically developed to ‘farm’ RSS feeds for the sole purpose of being used as Goolge fodder. Many who buy this sort of software are not going to be aware of the issues and probably not understand what RSS is.

  20. The issue of copyright infringement is an ongoing challenge. I have two blogs that I’ve tested to get familiar with them and decide whether or not I wanted to continue the effort and add one to my websites.

    The benefit of those blogs is the exposure I get from other markets–not my usual visitors.

    So, my approach is to provide blog and press release content with the knowledge that they will be used for additional exposure and content associated with my professional status. I assume they are going to turn up on sites and viewed by a different audience from what my site attracts and sites that reap commercial benefit around their compilation.

    I’ve experienced copyright infringement on my other content that I DON”T want distributed. Copyright statements and links for reprint permissions are posted on each page containing such content.

    In some cases the sites reprinting them without permission have removed them. In other cases I have to weigh the time, dollars, and effort to enforce it. Reputable sites always cooperate and since putting up the links for permissions I do get requests regularly.

    So, I’m not sure there is the one answer for everyone. Good to be aware of the issue and to make others think about it.

  21. I think RSS usage is one of the hottest issues right now, there are discussions of different sites how RSS feeds should be used and what is the right way to display the information placed inside them.

    Let’s say someone else uses your content and has Adsense at the same time on their site. But what about Googlebot, it will most likely crawl your site and add it to their database. If a user searches for a word that is linked to his site, not only will his posts appear in the search results, but Google will make some $ off the ads they sell. Isn’t that almost the same thing?

    Basically, I agree if you use someone else content you need to give them full credit, that includes as you say link to the original source, copyright message, if available, no full text articles (even though I don’t see the point to put your full content in RSS, the main goal to every site is to get visitors isn’t that right?)

    And lastly I would like to mention that I have a RSS directory, RSSHut, which includes, for right now only news sites, and even though I use Adsense you cannot see the content of RSS feed if you don’t have an account, which is free. I haven’t had any problems for now … who knows, tomorrow someone from Yahoo or CNN can send me a letter remove our feeds or we’ll sue you a** :)

    P.S. I have sent emails to CNN, Yahoo, and Wired and haven’t had any response, so I guess they just don’t care.

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