update: I’ve rewritten this post after realizing Mashable is not saying AC did anything illegal.
Mashable is falling just short of charging Associated Content, a well-funded content distribution portal, with plagiarism. Apparently an AC contributor has lifted a lot of Mashable articles verbatim and posted them at AC. Mashable argues that since AC claims to edit contributions they should have caught this.
As Mashable notes what makes this scraping and stealing more conspicuous is that AC is a relatively big online publishing player, not a junky run of the mill “made for adsense” site that would soon be delisted from Google and abandoned.
Of course, few sites screen contributors fairly carefully. In the rush to create profitable social communities, many sites are willing to turn a blind eye to who is posting what and from whom. Google’s getting better at delisting plagiarized content, but it’s still a big problem. The solution is fairly simple but so far few are willing to implement better screening of publishers and writers. Google adsense, for example, is often run on the lowliest of scraped content websites. Since Google has a record of payments to those publishers I find it hard to believe they are doing a careful job of deleting them from the system. I have not even heard Google claim that they do anything much to ban people from the Adsense program. With adsense as a prime monetizer of online content both legitimate and plagiarized, it would be nice to see Google blacklist abusers and pass this along to other advertising networks.
However based on my experiences as an advertiser Google is probably the best at following up and creating at least a minimal level of accountability for publishers. I bought cheap traffic from Enhance and the number of junk sites was very conspicuous in the logs. Conversion was close to zero and I discontinued the campaign.