The Web site in question is legalschnauzera.blogspot.com, with the addition of an "a" being the only difference between it and the title and address of my blog. "LegalSchnauzera" is filled with pop-up ads and pretty clearly appears to be a rogue Web site of some sort.
Riley is asking Judge Claud Neilson for a hearing--or to require my wife, Carol, and me to show cause concerning any involvement with "LegalSchnauzera." Carol removed certain items from Legal Schnauzer, plus my YouTube and Twitter accounts, in order to purge a contempt finding and gain my release after five months in the Shelby County Jail.
The answer to the primary question at hand is simple--neither Carol nor I have ever had any involvement with "LegalSchnauzera" or any Web site like it. We only learned of it upon receiving Riley's court documents on Saturday. In his March 26 release finding, Neilson noted Carol's "good faith efforts" to remove certain items from sites that were under our control. We have continued to act in good faith, but now a rogue blog of unknown origins has muddied the waters.
So where did "LegalSchnauzera" come from, and who is behind it? We don't know the answer to that question, but we certainly would like to find out.
I've never claimed to be an expert on abuse issues in the blogosphere, but some quick research shows that content theft has become a mounting problem. It's often called "scraping" or "splogging," and apparently can be easy to accomplish. Here is how one article on the Web describes the process:
Online content theft is, unfortunately, a common incident these days. As soon as a site becomes popular, it’s only a matter of time before someone reproduces it and tries to make a buck from it. One simply needs access to a RSS feed and an Google AdSense account in order to monetize from someone else’s work, and sadly, this happens all too often.
A quick visit to "LegalSchnauzera" shows that it is awash in ads. If you click on an article, it tends to call up an ad. In some cases, ads are superimposed so that an article cannot be read. It appears that the articles are there only as a vehicle to attract ad revenue.
Why did someone choose my articles as such a vehicle? I have no idea, but after spending five months in jail, this seems like another gross violation of my fundamental rights as a citizen. In terms of taste, I don't want anyone thinking I might be involved with a site like "LegalSchnauzera." More importantly, Carol and I have dealt with the court in an upfront and honest way throughout--and we will continue to do so; we aren't into playing shell games via a Web site that appears to be anything but upfront and honest.
Reporter Kent Faulk picked up on the story at al.com, and I told him that it felt like my site had been "hijacked." The rogue site appears to have articles on more than 100 subjects we've covered at Legal Schnauzer, with a small portion of them about Rob Riley. Here is part of the al.com article:
In an email Saturday evening responding to questions from AL.com, Shuler stated he had received a copy of the filings by Rob Riley's attorneys Saturday afternoon and stated he was "baffled" and denied having anything to do with the other website.
"I've never heard of legalschnauzera.blogspot.com, and I have no involvement with it," Shuler wrote in the email. "I took my first glance at it a few minutes ago, and it appears that someone has taken many of my posts and adopted them as their own. The author claims to be someone named Poonam Verma, and I have no idea who that is--or if it is even a real person.
"I'm sure Mr. Riley is upset to discover this Web site, and so am I. It looks as if my site has been hijacked," Shuler wrote. "I've never dealt with this sort of problem before, so I'm not an expert on it, but I think the key thing is to contact the hosting site and let them know that someone is using their service in a fraudulent way. I'm looking into doing that right now.
"I will be glad to help Rob Riley and his associates in any way that I can to straighten this out," Shuler wrote. "I'm concerned that this has happened, and I hope I can help get to the bottom of it."
I plan to file a formal response with the court shortly.