What Is Going On Over at the Internet?

computerOn Thursday, I drafted a blog post inspired by the recent death of 89-year-old former major league baseball player Larry Jansen. Jansen was an outstanding pitcher in National League in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, and was also the primary plaintiff in an early right of publicity case.  I have found that very few baseball fans or right of publicity scholars know about Jansen’s case, so I thought it would be appropriate, in light of his recent death, to post a short account of the case.

I realized that the public interest in this topic might be quite limited, so when I e-mailed it to the Blog editors on Thursday night, I suggested that they might just want to file this posting directly in the Law & Sports archive.

When I checked this morning, my submission had not yet been posted anywhere on the Faculty Blog.  I did not check again until around 6:30 p.m. CDT.  At that point, I noticed that the post had in fact been placed in the “recent posts” section of the blog.

Out of curiosity, I typed the article title into the Google search box to see if any IP or baseball history sites had set up links to the post.  What I found was truly bizarre.  I found my post, which is devoted to a 1953 intellectual property case that no one knows about, reproduced in whole or in part on several different blogs and webpages.

Only one seemed to be remotely related to the topic.  That was a website entitled Baseball Now where it was placed under the heading “Baseball News” and positioned next to a story about the death of Larry Jansen, the subject of my post.  I had never heard of Baseball Now, and I am not sure that a report of a 1953 court decision counts as “news,” but at least it makes sense that a baseball themed webpage desperate for material would be searching the Internet for stories it could pirate.  To its credit, the Baseball Now page copied only the first five lines of the article.  To read the entire article you had to click through two pages of the website before finally arriving at the MU Faculty Blog where, of course, both the name of the author and the source of the writing are identified.

The other hits turned out to be nothing short of bizarre.

One is Widgetbox, which copied the first part of the post under the heading of politics where it sits next to a post entitled “Same sex couples allowed divorce” which is about a legal case in Texas.  Both my post and the Texas one are underneath a link “Legal advice online.” I also noticed that the page listed a number of other recent posts from the MU Faculty Blog.

If the widget-seeker clicks on the “Legal advice online” link, he or she is taken to a different site called Trafficlegaladvice.com which promises “free legal advice for consumers.”  There, my post is reproduced in its entirety, but without any indication that I am the author or that it is taken from the MU Faculty Blog.  Well, at least the article should come in very handy for any consumer contemplating travelling back in time to 1953 and filing a lawsuit against a company placing photos of major league baseball players in popcorn boxes.

My Google search also found the title of my post on a site called Blogsworld Vox.  The post itself is not there, but attached to the title is a link to an alleged real estate site called The Home For Sale.com.  That site contains only the first paragraph of my article but it is accompanied by a link that would take the curious home purchaser to the MU Law School faculty blog.  I suppose that now that Larry Jansen is dead, his home will be soon coming on to the market.

Incredibly, my post also shows up on a website called Beantown Online:  All about Boston.  There is no reference to Boston whatsoever in my post.  Only the first paragraph is reproduced, and it shows up sandwiched between posts entitled “Plant Decors At Home: Your Own Heaven On Earth”  and “Audit: Mass. home health system leaves vulnerable at risk.”  The latter article does appear to be about Boston, more or less, and it also appears to have been lifted from the Boston Globe’s webpage.

In my story, I mention in passing that in 1946, Larry Jansen won 30 games as a pitcher for the minor league San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.  Apparently that was enough to get it picked up by http://sanfranciscotaxi.info which includes only part of the first paragraph of the post and omits the part about the San Francisco Seals entirely.  It does, however, provide the viewer with an 800 number which presumably can be used to call a taxi in San Francisco.

I am, however, most proud of the fact that my post was picked up by Linda Nelson Blogsworld.  Linda’s blog appears to pick up about fifty posts every hour from other blogs.  My post on Larry Jansen is limited to the first 10 lines and appears between “REOs in Kuna Idaho Keeping Market Afloat” and “8 Fatal Mistakes Made By Google Adwords Advertisers.”

Linda NelsonThe best part of Linda’s blog is her photo.

And all of this just in the first few hours after the post was entered on the Marquette Faculty Blog.  I can only imagine how widely it will be distributed 24 hours from now.

Seriously, can anyone explain to me what is going on here?  It is as though robots are being sent out across the Internet to randomly capture posts from other blogs and then bring them back to be posted on completely pointless websites–my apologies to www.baseballnow.com–that should fool no one with an IQ over 40.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Bruce E. Boyden

    It’s definitely the work of robots–it’s probably automatic reposting from our RSS feed. The question is why. It’s obviously not for human consumption, given that there’s no real theme and the posts themselves are so truncated as to make them unreadable. My initial guess would be as a cheap way to misdirect Google searchers in order to boost ad revenue; several of the sites you mention have ads on them. But not all, and I’m not sure what explains the sites with no ads (Linda Nelson and Bean Town).

    At least our blog comes up first in the search results!

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