Fatal wine waiters

December 20th, 2007 at 18:59 UTC by Richard Clayton

I’ve written before about “made for adware” (MFA) websites — those parts of the web that are created solely to host lots of (mainly Google) ads, and thereby make their creators loads of money.

Well, this one “hallwebhosting.com” is a little different. I first came across it a few months back when it was clearly still under development, but it seems to have settled down now — so that it’s worth looking at exactly what they’re doing.

The problem that such sites have is that they need to create lots of content really quickly, get indexed by Google so that people can find them, and then wait for the clicks (and the money) to roll in. The people behind hallwebhosting have had a cute idea for this — they take existing content from other sites and do word substitutions on sentences to produce what they clearly intend to be identical in meaning (so the site will figure in web search results), but different enough that the indexing spider won’t treat it as identical text.

So, for example, this section from Wikipedia’s page on Windows Server 2003:

Released on April 24, 2003, Windows Server 2003 (which carries the version number 5.2) is the follow-up to Windows 2000 Server, incorporating compatibility and other features from Windows XP. Unlike Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003’s default installation has none of the server components enabled, to reduce the attack surface of new machines. Windows Server 2003 includes compatibility modes to allow older applications to run with greater stability.

becomes:

Released on April 24, 2003, Windows Server 2003 (which carries the form quantity 5.2) is the follow-up to Windows 2000 Server, incorporating compatibility and other skin from Windows XP. Unlike Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003’s evasion installation has none of the attendant workings enabled, to cut the molest outward of new machines. Windows Server 2003 includes compatibility modes to allow big applications to gush with larger stability.

I first noticed this site because they rendered a Wikipedia article about my NTP DDoS work, entitled “NTP server misuse and abuse” into “NTP wine waiter knock about and abuse” … the contents of which almost makes sense:

“In October 2002, one of the first known hand baggage of phase wine waiter knock about resulted in troubles for a mess wine waiter at Trinity College, Dublin”

for doubtless a fine old university has wine waiters to spare, and a mess for them to work in.

Opinions around here differ as to whether this is machine translation (as in all those old stories about “Out of sight, out of mind” being translated to Russian and then back as “Invisible idiot”) or imaginative use of a thesaurus where “wine waiter” is a hyponym of “server”.

So fas as I can see, this is all potentially lawful — Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License so if there was an acknowledgement of the original article’s authors then all would be fine. But there isn’t — so in fact, all is not fine!

However, even if this (perhaps) oversight was corrected, some articles are clearly copyright infringements.

For example, this article from shellaccounts.biz entitled Professional Web Site Hosting Checklist appears to be entirely covered by copyright, yet it has been rendered into this amusement:

In harmony to create sure you get what you’ve been looking for from a qualified confusion put hosting server, here are a few stuff you should take into tally before deciding on a confusion hosting provider.

where you’ll see that “site” has become “put”, “web” has become “confusion” (!) and later on “requirements” becomes “food” which leads to further hilarity.

However, beyond the laughter, this is pretty clearly yet another ham-fisted attempt to clutter up the web with dross in the hopes of making money. This time it’s not Google adwords, but banner ads, and other franchised links, but it’s still essentially “MFA”. These types of site will continue until advertisers get more savvy about the websites that they don’t wish to be associated with — at which point the flow of money will cease and the sites will disappear.

To finish by being lighthearted again, the funniest page (so far) is the reworking of the Wikipedia article on “Terminal Servers” … since servers once again becomes “wine waiters”, but “terminal” naturally enough, becomes “fatal”. The image is clear.

Entry filed under: Security economics

6 comments Add your own

  • 1. Nicholas Weaver  |  December 20th, 2007 at 21:00 UTC

    Very cool!

    One other thing that is interesting is that there is at least one company which provides FULL LEGITIMATE articles for such spam sites, where people PAY to have their articles included!

    And people using this site are willing to pay the cost to do blog spam through Blogger’s CAPTCHA! So someone was willing to spend approximately $.01 to put an add spam on my blog pointing to their URLS!

    My writeup on it is
    http://nweaver.blogspot.com/2007/12/comment-spam-is-worth-real-money_1124.html

    The other interesting question is since google adds are pay per CLICK, you have to be at least remotely revelant. What is the payment on theses adds?

  • 2. Alf  |  December 21st, 2007 at 09:12 UTC

    Now, their website even links to this write up!
    Or shall I say (with the help of wordnet):
    Immediately, their entanglement piece of land level connects to this news.

  • 3. Clive Robinson  |  December 22nd, 2007 at 07:24 UTC

    @ Richard,

    You say,

    “some articles are clearly copyright infringements”

    and then,

    “appears to be entirely covered by copyright, yet it has been rendered into”

    It has clearly been modified, if it is more than 30% (the rule used in fashion industry) then the copyright is broken.

    However if you consider it a re-arangment as in the musical sense then “the peice” has to retain sufficient of the original to be recognisable to an audience therefore very minor variations count as seperate derivative works.

    You also refere to “this amusement” well satire is a form of amusment I could easily see somebody claiming (if pushed) that it is satire and the bar on that is a lot lower than 30%.

    So although I agree with you that ethicaly thay have “passed off” I doubt that you would get a judge to agree on a single page (multiple pages however might be different as intent might be established).

  • 4. Richard Clayton  |  December 22nd, 2007 at 09:50 UTC

    @Clive

    Applying rules from the fashion industry is complete nonsense… as would be applying rules that apply specifically to poetry or lyrics (where a few lines will get you in trouble). It’s also unwise to apply US guidelines in the UK or vice versa.

    However, I stick to my view that the (semi?)automated translation of the piece from English into Gibberish by consistent replacement of terms is not sufficient to make a new work. Hence the original copyright remains. In the case of the GFDL material this isn’t an issue, but for the other article I mentioned (and many more, see the site) the text, in my view, clearly infringes.

    As to amusement, I’m sorry you didn’t laugh, try some more of the site! I particularly like “If you’re short of money for coins and you need a steadfast labyrinth hosting expert, look overseas!”

  • 5. Clive Robinson  |  December 30th, 2007 at 20:01 UTC

    @ Richard,

    I did indead find some of it amusing in an odd sort of way (much like spoonerisums etc).

    The point I was trying to get across is that although I agree with you that it is “passing off” etc getting a judge to agree may well be difficult.

    The “rules etc” I used are those that have been derived from cases that have been up before both a judge and a “tribunal of fact” and have made it into the rule of thumb for “copyright” and “passing off” that is losely based on case law.

    The real problem is that this is an almost entirly new take on “copyright” and “passing off” that effectivly has no (reliable?) case law yet. Me’ learned bretherin tend to be a conservative bunch at the best of times and often look to previous judgments in (what they consioder to be) related cases. Which is why you often get some very strange outcomes on “bleading edge” cases.

    Which gives rise to the other problem of dealing with such new types of “infringment”, by the time “me learned bretherin” catch up with the (potential) ofenders they have (usually) moved on to a newer form of offence and so like the “Red Queens Race” the game goes on….

    And before anybody askes no I have no idea on how to correct the problem and I would be deeply suspicious of anybody who did propose a solution (due to the “law of unforcean consiquences”).

  • 6. genevainformation  |  January 9th, 2008 at 23:05 UTC

    It’s art. The whole thing is not a cheap attempt to gain attention but an art project allowing people like you..and me..and the others who read here..to reflect about the gap between virtual and non-virtual reality. A real and honest approach to make the window with the real life again one of the better ones. Yes. Sure. It must be bright, because you can’t be that far on the non-bright scale, can you?

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