Reed College Seeks to Stop Copycat Web Site

A Reed College professor made an unusual discovery in October when searching for himself on Google. A Web site for an unaccredited college called the University of Redwood appeared to have repurposed much of the material from Reed’s Web site. For example, the list of faculty Web sites on Redwood’s site is identical to the list of faculty Web sites on Reed’s site.

Officials at the Portland, Ore., college say their investigation into the Web site leads them to suspect that its purpose could be to solicit application fees from foreign students seeking to study in the United States. The site’s authors could not be reached for comment.

But the site says, on an “About Redwood” page, that it is a liberal-arts college founded in 1908 (the same year Reed was founded) that offers “a world class intellectually rigorous academic program” and has a “huge team of 135 faculty members.” It says it is named after “the Oregon pioneers Simeon and Amanda Redwood.” (Reed is named for the Oregon pioneers Simeon and Amanda Reed.)

“Social life at Redwood,” the site says, “is promising, it has a lot of opportunity for students and teachers to involve in music, theatre, lectures, movies, and sports through which one can continue with personal interest and get an opportunity to socialize.”

After the site was discovered in October, Reed officials sent a notice of copyright violation to the company that hosts the site, following policies specified by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The company, Wild West Domains, a subsidiary of Go Daddy, took the site down within a few days. But Reed officials discovered that it was back up again in January, and Martin Ringle, Reed’s chief technology officer, says college officials will most likely send another takedown notice soon.

The Web-domain company says it disabled the website in November, but reinstated it after the offending material was removed. The company says it has not heard from Reed since.

The University of Redwood site lists a Torrance, Calif., address that is a box at the mail-forwarding service Shipito. That company says it has not been contacted by Reed but suspended the Redwood account pending an investigation. The company did not say when or why the account had been suspended or who controls it.

Mr. Ringle says he is not sure why the creators for the University of Redwood site targeted Reed. “We can only speculate that they thought our site was nice,” he says.

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