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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mark Aufflick's web space

Monday, September 4, 2006
Is RSS republishing stealing?

Mark Aufflick's web space

I blogged a while back about RSS republishing vs. plagiarism.
I asked the question about whether RSS republishing was plagiarism. I gave an example of a site that scrapes RSS feeds (including mine) and republishes the content on a different site where they hope to get clicks on their google ads from the traffic the content generates. It was a fairly benign discussion and I wasn't too annoyed. I am, however, going to build on it now so you might want to read it first for background (make sure you come back for the survey below though. You know you just can't help yourself with those online survey widget thing-a-me-bobs ;).
Today I found an altogether nastier version and I thought I would try to codify a set of tests for determining if an instance of RSS republishing is acceptable or not.
Does the copier pretend that the content is their own original content?eg. in the first copy I found, my site was sort-of clearly cited as the source and linked. in the case of, no mention of my site is made. In fact the entry clearly says "posted by Vintage Computer Manuals"
Is the primary or secondary aim of the copier to boost traffic to your site?eg. is clearly trying to get eyeballs for itself by republishing my rss, but ultimately the tool is designed to help people find my content. clearly adds no value and is solely using republished RSS in the hope that people will click their ad's
Is the copier using your content in a way that would bring disrepute to you or your sitePeople I know have had their content used in "adult themed" sites in order to gain search traffic. Someone who doesn't know how all this works (ie. most Internet users) are going to associate those people/brands with the content presented alongside
Is the content copied presented unmodified and in context?eg. copying and rewriting someone else's blog to make it sound like yours is just plain bad - as well as sad
You need to visit the original page to view this survey
Having decided an instance is unacceptable, it's unclear what I should do about it. Certainly I'm considering writing a short set of terms under which I will license my RSS feed. I don't think creative commons will work because some aggregators who I would like to republish my feed are effectively using it for their own commercial gain.
One practise I will try and adopt from now on is to include a link to my own site (an old related post, etc.) in most blog entries. The only reason I became aware of the vintage computer example above was because it appeared in my referrer stats by virtue of having links to some old posts of mine (with fully qualified links). At least a reader might eventually find my site and realise that it is the source.
What do you think? Is the republishing of RSS ever justified? Is any publiscity good publicity? Is the RIAA right and shoudl all content reproduction be controlled by encryption and lawyers?
PS: Yes I am familiar with the term splogging (spam blogging), I just didn't want a buzzword to get in the way of the discussion.
Update: Read about one man's success and a (hopefully) reformed splogger on The head lemur

Mark Aufflick's web space


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