Blogger says “it’s OK to steal, if they use RSS”

Mgreenly says, basically, that by putting a full-text RSS feed out there it’s like giving everyone a license to copy my content and use it however they want.

Ahh, so if it’s easy to copy it’s OK to steal?

American copyright law says “not true.”

And, I’m calling bull on this. It’s one thing to use it in an online news aggregator like Bloglines and its a whole nother thing to steal my content and put a different name on it and then spam everyone I link to with trackback spam.

This is content theft and its not OK. If you are advocating this is OK you simply don’t understand copyright law.

Comments

  1. Many Tech Media publishers syndicate my feed without ever asking or acknowledging it, but I now place ads in my feed, so take my feed please!

  2. Many Tech Media publishers syndicate my feed without ever asking or acknowledging it, but I now place ads in my feed, so take my feed please!

  3. Paul: I’d be OK with that but this particular guy is stealing many people’s content (who are now asking me to do something since they didn’t agree with their content getting ripped off) and this guy is doing trackback spam to everyone I link to which makes it look like I’m writing comments on this new URL. That’s over the line and pisses me off and I don’t monetize my content through ads, so I don’t get bubkiss for this.

  4. Paul: I’d be OK with that but this particular guy is stealing many people’s content (who are now asking me to do something since they didn’t agree with their content getting ripped off) and this guy is doing trackback spam to everyone I link to which makes it look like I’m writing comments on this new URL. That’s over the line and pisses me off and I don’t monetize my content through ads, so I don’t get bubkiss for this.

  5. First I’d like to say I was primarily playing devils advocate but…

    What exactly is the difference between this and Bloglines making money of other peoples content?

    You really should quit saying they didn’t provide attribution they did! Notice the tag line after the posts on http://www.crazyfactor.com/ where it says something like:

    Original post by Robert Scoble and software by Elliott Back

    Not to mention you previously wrote that the world was free to do with your content as it pleased. If you didn’t want them to you would only publish descriptions in RSS or revert back to HTML.

    http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/01/16.html#a9213

    Which leaves me with my unanswered question, what’s changed your mind since you wrote that?

    Why don’t the syndication standards provide a flag to indicate if redistribution is allowed?

  6. First I’d like to say I was primarily playing devils advocate but…

    What exactly is the difference between this and Bloglines making money of other peoples content?

    You really should quit saying they didn’t provide attribution they did! Notice the tag line after the posts on http://www.crazyfactor.com/ where it says something like:

    Original post by Robert Scoble and software by Elliott Back

    Not to mention you previously wrote that the world was free to do with your content as it pleased. If you didn’t want them to you would only publish descriptions in RSS or revert back to HTML.

    http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/01/16.html#a9213

    Which leaves me with my unanswered question, what’s changed your mind since you wrote that?

    Why don’t the syndication standards provide a flag to indicate if redistribution is allowed?

  7. Because this guy is also doing the same to other bloggers who DID NOT give the permission I did. Also, he’s using trackbacks to spam every site and make it look like I commented when I did not. Also, this site is just plain rude and goes over the line in almost every area and does NOT follow accepted “community practices.”

    It’s over the line, pure and simple.

  8. Because this guy is also doing the same to other bloggers who DID NOT give the permission I did. Also, he’s using trackbacks to spam every site and make it look like I commented when I did not. Also, this site is just plain rude and goes over the line in almost every area and does NOT follow accepted “community practices.”

    It’s over the line, pure and simple.

  9. I’ve been trying Digg and there young enterprising bloggers mine my links and information and create there own posts, submit them a half hour after me, vote early and often and pass me…..they never trackback or link but still cash in on Google ads.

  10. I’ve been trying Digg and there young enterprising bloggers mine my links and information and create there own posts, submit them a half hour after me, vote early and often and pass me…..they never trackback or link but still cash in on Google ads.

  11. You are correct that courts have held that scraping RSS is a violation of copyright law. What is less known is that it, potentially, violates a series of other laws including trespass of chattles (property), breach of contract and even the computer fraud and abuse act.

    As I’ve pointed out on my site, copyright law is a big problem for scrapers, but most recent scraping cases have hinged on these other matters.

    There is simply no way that this kind of scraping is legal or ethical without prior permission.

    Sad to say for some spammers out there…

  12. You are correct that courts have held that scraping RSS is a violation of copyright law. What is less known is that it, potentially, violates a series of other laws including trespass of chattles (property), breach of contract and even the computer fraud and abuse act.

    As I’ve pointed out on my site, copyright law is a big problem for scrapers, but most recent scraping cases have hinged on these other matters.

    There is simply no way that this kind of scraping is legal or ethical without prior permission.

    Sad to say for some spammers out there…

  13. Apologies for being slightly off topic here, but to Michael: You need to fix your comment script – it won’t allow any comments at all to be posted. Constantly complains that “Blog can’t be blank” when it isn’t :)

    Back on topic, as I tried to post on his site, there’s a bit of a difference between a single user looking at RSS and someone reposting it and then spamming trackbacks all over.

  14. Apologies for being slightly off topic here, but to Michael: You need to fix your comment script – it won’t allow any comments at all to be posted. Constantly complains that “Blog can’t be blank” when it isn’t :)

    Back on topic, as I tried to post on his site, there’s a bit of a difference between a single user looking at RSS and someone reposting it and then spamming trackbacks all over.

  15. Why not put more responsibility on the feed reader makers, feed delivery services, WordPress and other folks to do more about security of text data?

    You lock your door of your house in most places, why isn’t the same done with the feeds, etc?

  16. Why not put more responsibility on the feed reader makers, feed delivery services, WordPress and other folks to do more about security of text data?

    You lock your door of your house in most places, why isn’t the same done with the feeds, etc?

  17. generally speaking republishing an extract would be fair use, republishing the full content is a breach of copyright under the DMCA.

    But onto the other comments, there is some hypocrisy and double standard though when it comes to scrapping/ using RSS feeds. Bloglines and others do republish full feeds, so essentially they could be breaching the law as well. It does seem to me (playing devils advocate a little bit) that it’s a matter of taking sides when both are doing essentially the same thing.I think Quadszilla over at the SEO Black Hat blog here sums it up well.

  18. generally speaking republishing an extract would be fair use, republishing the full content is a breach of copyright under the DMCA.

    But onto the other comments, there is some hypocrisy and double standard though when it comes to scrapping/ using RSS feeds. Bloglines and others do republish full feeds, so essentially they could be breaching the law as well. It does seem to me (playing devils advocate a little bit) that it’s a matter of taking sides when both are doing essentially the same thing.I think Quadszilla over at the SEO Black Hat blog here sums it up well.

  19. Bloglines and other feedreaders (as Robert argued in the other post) do not “republish” the content, they provide a means for the feed to be read.

    The site CrazyFactor is republishing the content under his name. He is stripping out all ads and amazon ids and replacing as his own.

    I have a copyright notice served with my feed which has been republished on all the posts.

    He has even scraped my personal posts (check the personal section). Does he lead the same life I do?

    I guess any blogger who argues in the favour of RSS Scraping has definitely not had his content stolen. Maybe then his/her stance may change?

  20. Bloglines and other feedreaders (as Robert argued in the other post) do not “republish” the content, they provide a means for the feed to be read.

    The site CrazyFactor is republishing the content under his name. He is stripping out all ads and amazon ids and replacing as his own.

    I have a copyright notice served with my feed which has been republished on all the posts.

    He has even scraped my personal posts (check the personal section). Does he lead the same life I do?

    I guess any blogger who argues in the favour of RSS Scraping has definitely not had his content stolen. Maybe then his/her stance may change?

  21. Gomer: no, it’s not. My content doesn’t get put there. Just my headlines and the first few words of a post. And, even then, only a small percentage of my posts ever get to TechMeme. A scraper would put every single post I have over there.

  22. Gomer: no, it’s not. My content doesn’t get put there. Just my headlines and the first few words of a post. And, even then, only a small percentage of my posts ever get to TechMeme. A scraper would put every single post I have over there.

  23. Robert, I hope other people see things that way.

    There are fair ways of using rss and they just happen to also fall under ‘fair use’.

  24. Robert, I hope other people see things that way.

    There are fair ways of using rss and they just happen to also fall under ‘fair use’.

  25. Um who cares as long as they link back to you?

    Blogging is about being heard, not controlling the channel, if you obsess about that don’t even publish RSS.

  26. Um who cares as long as they link back to you?

    Blogging is about being heard, not controlling the channel, if you obsess about that don’t even publish RSS.

  27. Richard. HAVE YOU NOT BEEN READING A DAMN THING I HAVE WRITTEN TODAY? Damn.

    I spelled out EXACTLY why this guy is pissing me off. It has everything to do with trackback spam.

    Also, Google can penalize you if your stuff is copied too many places on the Internet.

    Also, my readers were getting pissed off (because of the trackback spam, but a couple because their own content is getting ripped off).

  28. Richard. HAVE YOU NOT BEEN READING A DAMN THING I HAVE WRITTEN TODAY? Damn.

    I spelled out EXACTLY why this guy is pissing me off. It has everything to do with trackback spam.

    Also, Google can penalize you if your stuff is copied too many places on the Internet.

    Also, my readers were getting pissed off (because of the trackback spam, but a couple because their own content is getting ripped off).

  29. Scoble, you’re right, the guy’s an idiot and following his advice would result in copyright violations. Just because something is in RSS or Atom format does not grant the right to do anything with the data. However, putting data in that format, placing it openly on the net, pinging, etc. do create an “implied license” to *syndicate* the data. But, syndication alone is a pretty limited right and does not imply any right to create derivative works, etc.

    Denise Howell and I talked about this subject on IT Conversations some time ago… See:
    http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail655.html
    Also, I wrote a comment discussing this subject on a Denise’s new ZDNET blog (http://blogs.zdnet.com/Howell/). See: http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-12556-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=24605&messageID=462709

    bob wyman

  30. Scoble, you’re right, the guy’s an idiot and following his advice would result in copyright violations. Just because something is in RSS or Atom format does not grant the right to do anything with the data. However, putting data in that format, placing it openly on the net, pinging, etc. do create an “implied license” to *syndicate* the data. But, syndication alone is a pretty limited right and does not imply any right to create derivative works, etc.

    Denise Howell and I talked about this subject on IT Conversations some time ago… See:
    http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail655.html
    Also, I wrote a comment discussing this subject on a Denise’s new ZDNET blog (http://blogs.zdnet.com/Howell/). See: http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-12556-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=24605&messageID=462709

    bob wyman

  31. I don’t completely understand the issue, but hiding behind copyright doesn’t seem to be a good long-term solution. What is the solution? Is it possible to block RSS feeds to the particular scraper, block IP range, etc?

    Isn’t the whole purpose of these here internet tubes to transfer data freely and present it in different forums?

    Sure, if this guy is sending your blog posts around as spam that’s an abuse of the system, but should trying to stop him via copyright ruin legitimate reposting and syndication of RSS feeds?

  32. I don’t completely understand the issue, but hiding behind copyright doesn’t seem to be a good long-term solution. What is the solution? Is it possible to block RSS feeds to the particular scraper, block IP range, etc?

    Isn’t the whole purpose of these here internet tubes to transfer data freely and present it in different forums?

    Sure, if this guy is sending your blog posts around as spam that’s an abuse of the system, but should trying to stop him via copyright ruin legitimate reposting and syndication of RSS feeds?

  33. Hi Robert,

    CrazyFactor and GetItaround have been suspended by the hosts :)

    Will have to thank Duncan for finding the actual hosts… Tailor Made Servers.

    It is good that the site owners decided to take action.

  34. Hi Robert,

    CrazyFactor and GetItaround have been suspended by the hosts :)

    Will have to thank Duncan for finding the actual hosts… Tailor Made Servers.

    It is good that the site owners decided to take action.

  35. if you have an issue with trackbacks scoble, post about that, not about copyright.

    Spammers btw are never going to care about copyright, so that’s a dead end solution.

    Also, why are you worried about Google pollution? Their algorithms are smart enough to figure out who is the original source of material based on pagerank.

  36. if you have an issue with trackbacks scoble, post about that, not about copyright.

    Spammers btw are never going to care about copyright, so that’s a dead end solution.

    Also, why are you worried about Google pollution? Their algorithms are smart enough to figure out who is the original source of material based on pagerank.

  37. Trust me, I could never had made your evening as much as you made my day.

    Nobody would have bothered to notice it on my blog, if you hadn’t posted about it and also linked to me later :)

    Not just crazyfactor, but a lot of his spamblogs have been suspended.

  38. Trust me, I could never had made your evening as much as you made my day.

    Nobody would have bothered to notice it on my blog, if you hadn’t posted about it and also linked to me later :)

    Not just crazyfactor, but a lot of his spamblogs have been suspended.

  39. >>Ahh, so if it’s easy to copy it’s OK to steal?

    Why lock the door to my house when I leave? Because it’s easier than trying to get your stuff back.

    If someone from Sealand is stealing your content, how exactly are you going to stop them?

    That’s not to say someone couldn’t scrape the screen if they knew how to code, but RSS is leaving the door unlocked.

    /just saying

  40. >>Ahh, so if it’s easy to copy it’s OK to steal?

    Why lock the door to my house when I leave? Because it’s easier than trying to get your stuff back.

    If someone from Sealand is stealing your content, how exactly are you going to stop them?

    That’s not to say someone couldn’t scrape the screen if they knew how to code, but RSS is leaving the door unlocked.

    /just saying

  41. Copyright law is designed to protect original content. No offence, but most (all?) of what’s written here is a regurgitation of news and your own opinions on stuff.

    So what if there’s a regurgitation of a regurgitation?

  42. Copyright law is designed to protect original content. No offence, but most (all?) of what’s written here is a regurgitation of news and your own opinions on stuff.

    So what if there’s a regurgitation of a regurgitation?

  43. This reminds me of buying a wireless router and realizing the WEP or WPA isn’t enabled by default and the password is “admin”. Unfortunately the manufacturer leaves it up to the user to lock it down. A lot of CMS have their RSS feeds on by default. I agree that it’s wrong to verbatim copy someone else’s post though. But with a blog as popular as Scoble’s it was bound to happen even without RSS feeds…

  44. This reminds me of buying a wireless router and realizing the WEP or WPA isn’t enabled by default and the password is “admin”. Unfortunately the manufacturer leaves it up to the user to lock it down. A lot of CMS have their RSS feeds on by default. I agree that it’s wrong to verbatim copy someone else’s post though. But with a blog as popular as Scoble’s it was bound to happen even without RSS feeds…

  45. Kosso,

    What the hell are you talking about?

    There are two links (one to the web site and one to the rss feed) to the PodTech.net web site right at the top of the web page.

    Published by: PodTech.net web rss
    Copyright: PodTech.net 2006
    Last modified: 2006-08-28 00:02:49.0

    Why don’t you actually look at the page before sending you “flag up”. :-)

  46. Kosso,

    What the hell are you talking about?

    There are two links (one to the web site and one to the rss feed) to the PodTech.net web site right at the top of the web page.

    Published by: PodTech.net web rss
    Copyright: PodTech.net 2006
    Last modified: 2006-08-28 00:02:49.0

    Why don’t you actually look at the page before sending you “flag up”. :-)

  47. Ange: there’s a TOTAL difference. One guy asked permission, the other didn’t. Also, one guy isn’t spamming everyone with trackback spam. Also one guy added value to what I’m doing, one guy didn’t. One guy is now shut down, the other isn’t.

  48. Ange: there’s a TOTAL difference. One guy asked permission, the other didn’t. Also, one guy isn’t spamming everyone with trackback spam. Also one guy added value to what I’m doing, one guy didn’t. One guy is now shut down, the other isn’t.

  49. I agree with Scoble regarding the differences between voice indigo and the Crazy folks. Although, I’m pretty sure Voice Indigo crawls like Technorati, Google, IceRocket, and make others. Google doesn’t ask me for permission when they include my web page in their index/cache…

    Anyway, back to the point. In the case of Voice Indigo, they place the RSS link and web site link right next to the title PodTech.net.

    Kosso claims they are doing something wrong. Kosso happens to run Podcast.com, which one could argue competes with Voice Indigo.

    Now, if you go to – http://podcast.com/show/1499/ you can see a page that looks very similar to the Voice Indigo page. The title of the podcast is a link back to the PodTech.net site and there is an RSS link as well. So how is this different than Voice Indigo’s web page?

    Sorry, Kosso, but it seems like you are just trying to trash the competition to give your service a leg up.

    Also, if we’re going to bring up the law in all this, then I should poiint out that the law protects people from things like libel, slander, defamation of characters, etc., in addition to content protection. Something to think about when one goes off half cocked and calls someone else a crook.

    Alex

    PS – I am not affiliated with Voice Indigo in any way. I do not have a podcast they distribute. I have in fact never actually used their service. I just find it amusing when someone who owns a podcast directory calls out someone else for doing something wrong and they actually do the same thing :-)

  50. I agree with Scoble regarding the differences between voice indigo and the Crazy folks. Although, I’m pretty sure Voice Indigo crawls like Technorati, Google, IceRocket, and make others. Google doesn’t ask me for permission when they include my web page in their index/cache…

    Anyway, back to the point. In the case of Voice Indigo, they place the RSS link and web site link right next to the title PodTech.net.

    Kosso claims they are doing something wrong. Kosso happens to run Podcast.com, which one could argue competes with Voice Indigo.

    Now, if you go to – http://podcast.com/show/1499/ you can see a page that looks very similar to the Voice Indigo page. The title of the podcast is a link back to the PodTech.net site and there is an RSS link as well. So how is this different than Voice Indigo’s web page?

    Sorry, Kosso, but it seems like you are just trying to trash the competition to give your service a leg up.

    Also, if we’re going to bring up the law in all this, then I should poiint out that the law protects people from things like libel, slander, defamation of characters, etc., in addition to content protection. Something to think about when one goes off half cocked and calls someone else a crook.

    Alex

    PS – I am not affiliated with Voice Indigo in any way. I do not have a podcast they distribute. I have in fact never actually used their service. I just find it amusing when someone who owns a podcast directory calls out someone else for doing something wrong and they actually do the same thing :-)

  51. But when the newsriver pages take other people’s content, remove the original branding and add material promoting a friend of yours, that’s innovation!?

  52. But when the newsriver pages take other people’s content, remove the original branding and add material promoting a friend of yours, that’s innovation!?

  53. I run one of the few adult fetish blogs that has frequent, usually-daily, posts that include actual human language (as opposed to dirty pictures or really bad porn-speak marketing text) and so I’m a constant “victim” of scraper types who grab my RSS feed and republish it on their own sites without attribution.

    I put “victim” in quotes because bitching about any uses made of my syndicated feed strikes me as akin to bitching when someone links to you — as some people still do. The purpose of a document on the world wide web is to be linked to; don’t put it up if you don’t want that. And the purpose of an RSS feed is to be syndicated elsewhere; don’t put it up if you don’t want that to happen. Or so it seems to me — our host apparently disagrees.

    Indeed, I’d go so far to argue that putting up a feed for syndication constitutes an implied, if not explicit, grant of license to republish the fed material, pretty much without limitation.

    That said, a lot of the uses that get made of “my” text (again the scare quotes, because most of my posts are heavy on quotes from elsewhere, with a lesser volume of commentary by me) are pretty scummy; they most commonly get used to bulk up the keyword density of spammy (extreme advertising densitity, prose-content free) porn blogs. Attribution to me is often missing, or text only (linkless). My solution, akin to the guy who puts advertising in his feed, is simply to modify my feed. One thing I do is hack the feed template so that each item title ends with “– from MYDOMAIN.COM” so that it’s tough (impossible for scrapers using standard tools only) for “my” stuff to get used without attribution.

  54. I run one of the few adult fetish blogs that has frequent, usually-daily, posts that include actual human language (as opposed to dirty pictures or really bad porn-speak marketing text) and so I’m a constant “victim” of scraper types who grab my RSS feed and republish it on their own sites without attribution.

    I put “victim” in quotes because bitching about any uses made of my syndicated feed strikes me as akin to bitching when someone links to you — as some people still do. The purpose of a document on the world wide web is to be linked to; don’t put it up if you don’t want that. And the purpose of an RSS feed is to be syndicated elsewhere; don’t put it up if you don’t want that to happen. Or so it seems to me — our host apparently disagrees.

    Indeed, I’d go so far to argue that putting up a feed for syndication constitutes an implied, if not explicit, grant of license to republish the fed material, pretty much without limitation.

    That said, a lot of the uses that get made of “my” text (again the scare quotes, because most of my posts are heavy on quotes from elsewhere, with a lesser volume of commentary by me) are pretty scummy; they most commonly get used to bulk up the keyword density of spammy (extreme advertising densitity, prose-content free) porn blogs. Attribution to me is often missing, or text only (linkless). My solution, akin to the guy who puts advertising in his feed, is simply to modify my feed. One thing I do is hack the feed template so that each item title ends with “– from MYDOMAIN.COM” so that it’s tough (impossible for scrapers using standard tools only) for “my” stuff to get used without attribution.

  55. Dan: I really don’t care if you steal (er, use) my content. But I do care when you trackback spam everyone in my name. Then I get freaking angry.

    By the way, that site is now shut down. That’s what happens when you go over the line. Reasonable people who run ISPs say “uncle.”

  56. Dan: I really don’t care if you steal (er, use) my content. But I do care when you trackback spam everyone in my name. Then I get freaking angry.

    By the way, that site is now shut down. That’s what happens when you go over the line. Reasonable people who run ISPs say “uncle.”

  57. Robert, I understand that you care, and why.

    However, I’m not convinced that you’re being reasonable in doing so. To me, it’s as if you set up an open bar and then got angry with people who drank too much and got loud and stupid. Yeah, they are jerks, but it’s an inevitable consequence of having an open bar at a party above a certain size.

    That ISPs (a conservative, legally-vulnerable bunch) agree with you does not necessarily make you right, from an internet-philosophy perspective. You’re right about the law (probably right, that is, depending on whether my implied-license argument has legs) but we all know that in these fast-moving times the law doesn’t always map very well with the custom and usage of the community (a community that some of us, at least, value more highly than we value the opinons of “series of tubes” senators). Don’t be too proud that Senator Stevens (one of mine, for my sins) is on your side.

    That said, the trackback spam is ugly stuff, which is why I have disabled trackbacks on all my blogs. In my corner of the blogging world, the benefits of trackback are minimal compared to the abuses.

  58. Robert, I understand that you care, and why.

    However, I’m not convinced that you’re being reasonable in doing so. To me, it’s as if you set up an open bar and then got angry with people who drank too much and got loud and stupid. Yeah, they are jerks, but it’s an inevitable consequence of having an open bar at a party above a certain size.

    That ISPs (a conservative, legally-vulnerable bunch) agree with you does not necessarily make you right, from an internet-philosophy perspective. You’re right about the law (probably right, that is, depending on whether my implied-license argument has legs) but we all know that in these fast-moving times the law doesn’t always map very well with the custom and usage of the community (a community that some of us, at least, value more highly than we value the opinons of “series of tubes” senators). Don’t be too proud that Senator Stevens (one of mine, for my sins) is on your side.

    That said, the trackback spam is ugly stuff, which is why I have disabled trackbacks on all my blogs. In my corner of the blogging world, the benefits of trackback are minimal compared to the abuses.

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