7 thoughts on “The RSS copyright can of worms

  1. Doesn’t this worry you? Since all aggregators essentially do what the complainant is upset about– repackage RSS content and display it in its own interfafce– any aggregator which has to be paid for and/or uses advertising could be in jeopardy, or so it seems to me.

  2. Chris, this worries me about RSS itself, but not specifically about FeedDemon. FeedDemon doesn’t repurpose feeds to sell ads, not does it collect subscription information.
    If someone asks me to remove a feed from FeedDemon’s default set of channels, I’ll do so. But if someone asks me to make it impossible for anyone to subscribe to their feed in FeedDemon, I’ll send them packing. This is like asking a television manufacturer to prevent people from viewing a specific show in their TV sets.

  3. The point is that you are making a profit with a product that essentially repurposes content in the same way. I don’t think the distinction is that clear… at what point the profit is made isn’t the point, the point is that your product wouldn’t be of any use were it not for the content that is aggregated from other sources.
    Mr. Schwimmer has asked that his feed be blocked from a client– he could just as “rightfully” ask you to make it impossible to aggregate in FeedDemon as long as you make people pay for your product right? In fact, the argument could be made that he would have MORE right since, as it is, Bloglines isn’t yet doing any advertising, but people are paying for FeedDemon and other readers. I personally think this is a very scary kind of slippery slope for those creating aggregators and those using them.

  4. “This is like asking a television manufacturer to prevent people from viewing a specific show in their TV sets.”
    Nick Bradbury, meet the MPAA, the HDMI interface, and HDTV. Don’t think for a minute it can’t happen, because it already has.
    We either start aggressively educating people like Schwimmer now, or we all pay the price later.

  5. Okay, suppose I contact Opera Software and request that they not allow people to view my site in the for-pay Opera browser. Should Opera fulfill my request? I don’t think they should, nor are they legally required to. This is not repurposing anyone’s content – viewing a web site in a browser isn’t creating a commercial derivative work. Likewise for viewing a feed in an RSS reader.
    Now, suppose I ask Opera not to allow viewing my site in the trial version of their browser, which frames the content with ads? Again, it’s not repurposing someone’s content because there’s a clear separation between the content and the ads – and that, to me, is the key. This is the issue that I think makes it thornier for Bloglines, but at this point Bloglines isn’t even selling ads, so we don’t know how clear this separation would be.
    Look, there is some cause for concern here, but there have been a few “the sky is falling” blog posts about this which make it sound like the end of the RSS world. It’s not.
    And if this issue ever lands in court, we can all be comfortable in the knowledge that, in the end, this whole debate will depend on how technically literate one judge is :)

  6. Could someone please explain why a person would go to all the trouble of maintaining an RSS file format, if they DIDN’T want people to read their articles in the reader’s choice of format?
    This seems very strange to me…

  7. The issue isn’t really that Schwimmer wants to stop people reading their feed in their aggregator of choice. Instead, it’s that Schwimmer doesn’t want his content repurposed to sell ads, and I do understand (but don’t share) his complaint. Read his blog (http://trademark.blog.us/blog/ ) for his side of the story.

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