Andy says I’m an RSS stealer thanks to Google Reader

Andy Beard notes that I’m stealing people’s content for my Google Reader link blog.

Absolutely! And, if anyone doesn’t like it, they can send me email and I’ll remove them from my feeds.

But my email lately has been much different. Turns out that these blogs are getting hundreds, and even thousands, of visits from my link blog.

Whoa? The full content is over there, so why would anyone click through to read the full blog?

Well, for one, I’m not printing everything that, say, TechCrunch puts up. So, if you are a new reader and are following my link blog you’ll probably want to click through to good posts to subscribe to the full feed yourself.

Second, if there are comments, or you want to comment on a post, you’ve gotta visit the full thing.

Anyway, what are the rules? Most people who use RSS know that they are giving permission for their feeds to be used in a non-commercial way. My link blog doesn’t have ads on it so fits inside the model of a non-commercial use.

I TOTALLY disagree with Andy that RSS was designed to be private. That’s TOTALLY FALSE. Ever since I can remember RSS is about PUBLIC uses of syndication technology.

87 thoughts on “Andy says I’m an RSS stealer thanks to Google Reader

  1. A lot of people are losing sight of what copyright is for, here. Copyright exists because it ultimately benefits the public by encouraging original work. It is not an absolute right, one which you might hold even if it does not benefit the rest of us. It’s not like, say, the right to life.

    Sharing snippits from an RSS feed – a feed which, it should be remembered, an author has explicitly made available – benefits the public far more than it inconveniences the author. It robs no one of income, adds traffic to the author’s site, and gives their work valuable publicity. I’ve discovered half a dozen sites through Scoble’s link feed which I now read regularly: without the link blog, I would not have found them, and they would not now be getting any traffic from me.

    If you don’t want to get into link blogs, stop using full text feeds. It’s as simple as that.

  2. A lot of people are losing sight of what copyright is for, here. Copyright exists because it ultimately benefits the public by encouraging original work. It is not an absolute right, one which you might hold even if it does not benefit the rest of us. It’s not like, say, the right to life.

    Sharing snippits from an RSS feed – a feed which, it should be remembered, an author has explicitly made available – benefits the public far more than it inconveniences the author. It robs no one of income, adds traffic to the author’s site, and gives their work valuable publicity. I’ve discovered half a dozen sites through Scoble’s link feed which I now read regularly: without the link blog, I would not have found them, and they would not now be getting any traffic from me.

    If you don’t want to get into link blogs, stop using full text feeds. It’s as simple as that.

  3. I agree! RSS is given to see content elsewhere. Those who create RSS feeds of their content are responsible for it being put wherever.
    This will come up increasingly as RSS becomes more popular. As a web developer I have been parsing various kinds of feeds including video and photos.

    A photographer recently contacted me and said his images on the public Flickr rss feed were copyright and I had no business including them in a Flickr rss feed????

    I removed that feed, but also advised him that putting your photos on a public site that includes them in RSS is silly if you don’t want them posted anywhere…

    Summation: You create the feed and have the ability to have either excerpts or the full feed. An RSS feed can turn up ANYWHERE. Act accordingly, RSS is good for you :)

  4. I agree! RSS is given to see content elsewhere. Those who create RSS feeds of their content are responsible for it being put wherever.
    This will come up increasingly as RSS becomes more popular. As a web developer I have been parsing various kinds of feeds including video and photos.

    A photographer recently contacted me and said his images on the public Flickr rss feed were copyright and I had no business including them in a Flickr rss feed????

    I removed that feed, but also advised him that putting your photos on a public site that includes them in RSS is silly if you don’t want them posted anywhere…

    Summation: You create the feed and have the ability to have either excerpts or the full feed. An RSS feed can turn up ANYWHERE. Act accordingly, RSS is good for you :)

  5. “By the way, have you ever talked with the publisher of the NY Times? I have.”

    Hey, back off on the caffeine, Robert! Don’t start talking about yourself in the third person, either, or we’ll need to do an intervention. ;-)

    Maybe you’re both right. Certainly, a lot of blogs whose content you republish benefit from increased traffic, so you’re right.

    Your blog (and the link blog attached to it) serves a commercial purpose (your career advancement, self-promotion, etc.) and is closely tied to your commercial activities. So maybe Andy’s right – it’s for a commercial purpose, and you gain a very valuable currency (authority) through your use of others’ content.

    Just because you’re pretty sure you’re right doesn’t mean you have to curb-stomp the person you’re debating with.

  6. “By the way, have you ever talked with the publisher of the NY Times? I have.”

    Hey, back off on the caffeine, Robert! Don’t start talking about yourself in the third person, either, or we’ll need to do an intervention. ;-)

    Maybe you’re both right. Certainly, a lot of blogs whose content you republish benefit from increased traffic, so you’re right.

    Your blog (and the link blog attached to it) serves a commercial purpose (your career advancement, self-promotion, etc.) and is closely tied to your commercial activities. So maybe Andy’s right – it’s for a commercial purpose, and you gain a very valuable currency (authority) through your use of others’ content.

    Just because you’re pretty sure you’re right doesn’t mean you have to curb-stomp the person you’re debating with.

  7. @ Andy C

    If you had read my original post from 2 weeks ago, plus the current one (including all the comments) I think you might determine that I am looking to discuss the situation, and am suggesting giving the owners of RSS feeds a little control over how their generously supplied full content RSS feeds are used.

    This is in the interest of RSS users / readers. It is much better to introduce some protocal such that aggregators and sharing features warn a reader before they decide to share content they are not licensed to share.

    Your aggregator specifically is actually one step better than Roberts shared content because it only contains an excerpt.

    @ Albert Pascual

    You are not offering a feed with full contents

    @ Robert

    Very strange, one of my comments seems to have not appeared. It was definately submitted, because when I attempted to resubmit, the WordPress system reported that it had been submitted previously.

    The message contained an important warning regarding the dangers of taking a Google Reader shared feed and passing it to Feedburner.

    Are RSS publishers really unconcerned regarding their viewing figures?

    The real readership of http://www.problogger.net/ isn’t going down, but the Feedburner stats have dropped from approx 8350 to 7800 in the last couple of weeks.

    I am just a concerned citizen, certainly not RSS police

  8. @ Andy C

    If you had read my original post from 2 weeks ago, plus the current one (including all the comments) I think you might determine that I am looking to discuss the situation, and am suggesting giving the owners of RSS feeds a little control over how their generously supplied full content RSS feeds are used.

    This is in the interest of RSS users / readers. It is much better to introduce some protocal such that aggregators and sharing features warn a reader before they decide to share content they are not licensed to share.

    Your aggregator specifically is actually one step better than Roberts shared content because it only contains an excerpt.

    @ Albert Pascual

    You are not offering a feed with full contents

    @ Robert

    Very strange, one of my comments seems to have not appeared. It was definately submitted, because when I attempted to resubmit, the WordPress system reported that it had been submitted previously.

    The message contained an important warning regarding the dangers of taking a Google Reader shared feed and passing it to Feedburner.

    Are RSS publishers really unconcerned regarding their viewing figures?

    The real readership of http://www.problogger.net/ isn’t going down, but the Feedburner stats have dropped from approx 8350 to 7800 in the last couple of weeks.

    I am just a concerned citizen, certainly not RSS police

  9. Dear Cathy and Clare

    OK. I own up. It’s a fair cop. I was foolish. I was stupid. I was misinformed.

    I thought I was clever. I thought I had the perfect solution to desktop versus Web based RSS readers versus NetVibes.

    I decided to run Gregarius on my hosted server to provide – eek – a (personal) aggregator for my own use to read my favourite feeds from any machine. Anywhere.

    No-one else uses it. No-one else knows of its existence. I add feeds. I delete feeds. Feeds are fluid.

    However, I blatantly failed ask permission from any blog owner for permission to re-publish their content. Shame on me.

    Now I am nervous because I am clean shaven.

    Will the ‘Andy Beard RSS privacy police’ be paying me a visit ?

    Worried of London.

    PS. And now I have advertised the existence of this aggregator to the InterWeb. Doh !

  10. Dear Cathy and Clare

    OK. I own up. It’s a fair cop. I was foolish. I was stupid. I was misinformed.

    I thought I was clever. I thought I had the perfect solution to desktop versus Web based RSS readers versus NetVibes.

    I decided to run Gregarius on my hosted server to provide – eek – a (personal) aggregator for my own use to read my favourite feeds from any machine. Anywhere.

    No-one else uses it. No-one else knows of its existence. I add feeds. I delete feeds. Feeds are fluid.

    However, I blatantly failed ask permission from any blog owner for permission to re-publish their content. Shame on me.

    Now I am nervous because I am clean shaven.

    Will the ‘Andy Beard RSS privacy police’ be paying me a visit ?

    Worried of London.

    PS. And now I have advertised the existence of this aggregator to the InterWeb. Doh !

  11. Duncan: again, I’m not duplicating people’s blogs. I’m using maybe 1/10th of their content. Not gonna get them kicked off of Google. Yes, go ahead and ask Matt Cutts and see what he says.

    And when you call my link blog a “splog” it’s YOU that is marked as not rational.

    RSS stands for SYNDICATION. Sounds like you really are nutty on this one.

    But, whatever. Differing views makes the world go round.

    Hey, you all work for B5 Media, don’t you? You’re gaming Google by linking all your blogs together which puts people who don’t join a network at a disadvantage. But no one calls YOU on that! Maybe THAT is the reason you don’t like linkblogging. It lets the rest of us gain the same traffic advantage that you have by being part of a network. In fact, on your home page you even reprint headlines, but only from those people inside your network. How convenient of you to take advantage of Google that way! I see it now, you just don’t want any competition.

    You do note that this is Google that’s making this reader. I sure would love them to remove some blogs based on my, and other people’s, link blogs. Easy to prove and would be disastrous for Google’s PR.

  12. Duncan: again, I’m not duplicating people’s blogs. I’m using maybe 1/10th of their content. Not gonna get them kicked off of Google. Yes, go ahead and ask Matt Cutts and see what he says.

    And when you call my link blog a “splog” it’s YOU that is marked as not rational.

    RSS stands for SYNDICATION. Sounds like you really are nutty on this one.

    But, whatever. Differing views makes the world go round.

    Hey, you all work for B5 Media, don’t you? You’re gaming Google by linking all your blogs together which puts people who don’t join a network at a disadvantage. But no one calls YOU on that! Maybe THAT is the reason you don’t like linkblogging. It lets the rest of us gain the same traffic advantage that you have by being part of a network. In fact, on your home page you even reprint headlines, but only from those people inside your network. How convenient of you to take advantage of Google that way! I see it now, you just don’t want any competition.

    You do note that this is Google that’s making this reader. I sure would love them to remove some blogs based on my, and other people’s, link blogs. Easy to prove and would be disastrous for Google’s PR.

  13. Stefan> he’s giving credit, i mean it isn’t as if he’s copy and pasting content without citing sources. that would be wrong.

    Citing sources doesn’t prevent a breach of copyright, and certainly doesn’t mean you can republish an entire post Stefan. Certainly a part feed/ extract with link would be acceptable under fair use provisions, but never a full post without permission.

    I also noticed in the comments there someone talking about Google and Matt Cutts…I wonder how happy the people your scraping Robert will be when you get them banned or punished from Google for duplicate content? Drop Matt a line, he’ll explain how it works.

    As for saying that I’m not rational Robert you’re right, I thought once you’d left Microsoft you might have joined the real world but it would appear that this isn’t the case. You’ve got a splog that is helping value add to your own personal blog that not only features commercials, but is also a conduit and communications outlet for your own business and commercial interests with Podtech. Just because you don’t have ads on that page doesn’t make it non-commercial, and if you believe that you deluding yourself, and I mean that with the utmost respect. As for Andy’s arguments pertaining to how RSS should be used…well I don’t agree with the way he’s putting it, but I do agree with what he’s trying to say: RSS feeds aren’t private as such, but in terms of use they are there on the whole (particularly copyrighted feeds and works) for private use in a feed reader, they certainly aren’t there to be republished by you, or your friendly neighborhood spam blogger. Anyhow, could argue this all day, you’re not ripping any of my feeds so I’ll leave it at that, but certainly I hope you’ve given Automattic notice that they should expect some DMCA notices in against you in the future.

  14. Stefan> he’s giving credit, i mean it isn’t as if he’s copy and pasting content without citing sources. that would be wrong.

    Citing sources doesn’t prevent a breach of copyright, and certainly doesn’t mean you can republish an entire post Stefan. Certainly a part feed/ extract with link would be acceptable under fair use provisions, but never a full post without permission.

    I also noticed in the comments there someone talking about Google and Matt Cutts…I wonder how happy the people your scraping Robert will be when you get them banned or punished from Google for duplicate content? Drop Matt a line, he’ll explain how it works.

    As for saying that I’m not rational Robert you’re right, I thought once you’d left Microsoft you might have joined the real world but it would appear that this isn’t the case. You’ve got a splog that is helping value add to your own personal blog that not only features commercials, but is also a conduit and communications outlet for your own business and commercial interests with Podtech. Just because you don’t have ads on that page doesn’t make it non-commercial, and if you believe that you deluding yourself, and I mean that with the utmost respect. As for Andy’s arguments pertaining to how RSS should be used…well I don’t agree with the way he’s putting it, but I do agree with what he’s trying to say: RSS feeds aren’t private as such, but in terms of use they are there on the whole (particularly copyrighted feeds and works) for private use in a feed reader, they certainly aren’t there to be republished by you, or your friendly neighborhood spam blogger. Anyhow, could argue this all day, you’re not ripping any of my feeds so I’ll leave it at that, but certainly I hope you’ve given Automattic notice that they should expect some DMCA notices in against you in the future.

  15. Seems to me like you are going the Google way Robert. They started scanning all books & gave publishers the option to opt out instead of asking permission first before scanning. That case is still pending, you may wanna look at the outcome of that.

  16. Seems to me like you are going the Google way Robert. They started scanning all books & gave publishers the option to opt out instead of asking permission first before scanning. That case is still pending, you may wanna look at the outcome of that.

  17. posts i would have never seen i have thanks to robert

    not to mention that i’ve found a shit ton of blogs to subscribe to

    he’s giving credit, i mean it isn’t as if he’s copy and pasting content without citing sources. that would be wrong.

    you’re throwing the same arguments the record company throws at 14 year old girls putting videos of themselves on youtube singing their favorite singers song.

  18. posts i would have never seen i have thanks to robert

    not to mention that i’ve found a shit ton of blogs to subscribe to

    he’s giving credit, i mean it isn’t as if he’s copy and pasting content without citing sources. that would be wrong.

    you’re throwing the same arguments the record company throws at 14 year old girls putting videos of themselves on youtube singing their favorite singers song.

  19. Andy: >IANAL but believe it is your responsibility to ask specific permission from each feed owner you intend to republish on your linkblog.

    No it’s not. That’s not how the RSS system works. It’s worked well for years. It’s very easy to opt out of my blog.

    You can whine all you want. The system isn’t broken and my link blog will go on. I note that not a single person included there has complained. Not a single one.

    Why is that?

  20. Andy: >IANAL but believe it is your responsibility to ask specific permission from each feed owner you intend to republish on your linkblog.

    No it’s not. That’s not how the RSS system works. It’s worked well for years. It’s very easy to opt out of my blog.

    You can whine all you want. The system isn’t broken and my link blog will go on. I note that not a single person included there has complained. Not a single one.

    Why is that?

  21. David: >>It’s a complete contradiction.

    It’s very easy. I don’t duplicate every post. Spam blogs duplicate every post with an algorithm. I only duplicate the best posts, maybe 1/10th of a blog like TechCrunch, maybe 1/100th of a normal blog that I subscribe to. Keep in mind I only subscribe to a small subset of blogs too — ones that have very high signal to noise ratios.

  22. David: >>It’s a complete contradiction.

    It’s very easy. I don’t duplicate every post. Spam blogs duplicate every post with an algorithm. I only duplicate the best posts, maybe 1/10th of a blog like TechCrunch, maybe 1/100th of a normal blog that I subscribe to. Keep in mind I only subscribe to a small subset of blogs too — ones that have very high signal to noise ratios.

  23. Copyright infringement can exist whether the perpetrator is aware of it or not. There is no distinction for person vs commercial in terms of whether an infringement has occured, but there is likely a difference in the level of prosecution and consequences that may follow.

    People who see an example may well follow it (passing into the illegal zone) and then subsequently run over the second (albeit vague) line (higher consequences) because they didn’t know they crossed the first line.

    I’m not seeing your defense here and I think you need to take back your committment to something which (when considering the above) could seem quite irresponsible in your position as a leader, despite the perceived benefits or assumptions around shared knowledge. There’s also the increasing Positive (not in the good sense) Externality (economics terms) of blogs as a ‘knowledge spillover’, i.e. the fact that they act as a Public Good and the authors of that content are not being subsidised to compensate.

  24. Copyright infringement can exist whether the perpetrator is aware of it or not. There is no distinction for person vs commercial in terms of whether an infringement has occured, but there is likely a difference in the level of prosecution and consequences that may follow.

    People who see an example may well follow it (passing into the illegal zone) and then subsequently run over the second (albeit vague) line (higher consequences) because they didn’t know they crossed the first line.

    I’m not seeing your defense here and I think you need to take back your committment to something which (when considering the above) could seem quite irresponsible in your position as a leader, despite the perceived benefits or assumptions around shared knowledge. There’s also the increasing Positive (not in the good sense) Externality (economics terms) of blogs as a ‘knowledge spillover’, i.e. the fact that they act as a Public Good and the authors of that content are not being subsidised to compensate.

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