Grant Shapps' HowToCorp annoys Google

Redistributing online property.

New Statesman
Photograph: Getty Images

According to the Guardian, Grant Shapps, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, has been helping people rip off web content for profit.

He and his wife Belinda (well, technically, just Belinda) run a company called HowToCorp, a self-hailed peddler of “the web’s favourite online toolkits”. The company specialises in selling online self-help packages, and can enable you to “Achieve the Swing in Golf”, “Find Happiness”, “Create and Make a Presentation”, or “Bounce Back from the Recession”.

However, one of HowToCorp’s kits – Traffic Paymaster - has  bred controversy for selling a programme that boosts websites’ hits by “’spinning and scraping’ content from other sites to attract advertising from Google”. While this goes against Google’s AdSense policy, it is not technically illegal.

Nonetheless, republishing other websites’ content to intercept their hits does cross into the grey are some call “theft”. (Let's revel in the irony of this post for a bit. But hey, at least we've taken due precautions to link where links are due... Thanks, Guardian.)

This is probably why the title bar of HowToCorp’s homepage reads “Sebastian Fox’s How To Corp” rather than “Grant Shapps’ How To Corp”.