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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where RSS Publsihing Meets Plagarsim

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Where RSS republishing meets plagiarism
There's been a lot of talk about online plagiarism lately.
Taking someone's personal blog entries, changing the names, and then inserting the stories into your own blog is kinda sad. The comparison made in that story to a 6 year old exaggerating their playground exploits is probably a fair one.
It is obviously wrong though.
Less clear, is the validity of republishing someone's RSS feed. For example, my RSS feed (and others) are republished wholesale on sites like - obviously with the aim of creating bulk content in the hope of driving clicks to their Google ads. (the original content on my site as racked up $50 worth of clicks since 2003, so I don't see how it will work for them ;). It seems wrong, but is it? That page attributes my site and provides a link. It says "reported by" which implies that I have submitted the content to them, but in a way I have - I provide an RSS feed and effectively say "subscribe to this feed - I have things to say just like AP does".
Another analogy might be that it's not really that much different to cable tv distribution companies retransmitting the free to air channels on their cable without paying a fee (which has been upheld in the courts here in Australia).
In this case, my branding is getting a hammering by having my content identified with such a shonky website (which has even worse colour schemes than mine!), but what about a more "legitimate" site, like, where my content becomes part of one of their feeds: It's not linking, it's actual digital duplication of my (copyrighted) content. But in the case of feedster, it's being duplicated by a service that is designed to help people find my content, so that's a good thing right? Before you assume the answer is no, think about how different that is to a Library, or Google books.
For a fascinating, in depth and really interesting read about Libraries and DRM (Digital Rights Management) check out the recent Groklaw post "The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price".
Any feedback on this? Semi? DB? Lars?

Posted by Mark Aufflick


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