The Coming RSS Feed Licensing Mess

from the what-can-you-do? dept

With all the talk lately about what people can or can’t do with other sites’ content, it’s only going to get more confusing. Steve Yelvington perfectly lays out the problem that a number of people have been coming to terms with. Once a site offers up an RSS feed, does that mean anyone can do anything with it? If not, how should they limit it? Some sites claim that feeds are only for “non-commercial” use, however that generally seems to assume that the feeds are there for people to put on their website for public display, rather than to use in an aggregator. Yelvington points out some different “licensing” policies that different RSS providers use, showing how confusing it can get. However, I think the problem may be even worse. Concerning the issue I laid out above… if a professional investor reads an RSS feed and makes a buy or sell decision based on that information, hasn’t he used the RSS feed for commercial purposes? If a blogger who runs ads on his or her site, uses an RSS feed to find something useful to post to the blog, has he or she violated the non-commercial claim? Once again, the issue comes back to “control.” Content providers need to learn to let go. Content users want to be free to do what they want with the content that’s out there. That’s what’s so nice about RSS. Slapping silly, unenforceable regulations on it doesn’t help your users, it just confuses them and makes them look elsewhere for content without restrictions.


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Comments on “The Coming RSS Feed Licensing Mess”

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4 Comments
Paul (user link) says:

Same thing with ads

Some who provide decent RSS feeds are now starting to put ads in them. While they have every “right” to do that, they just don’t realize that many, many people will simply find alternate sources for their information.

Our members aggregate all of their feeds into one place in Capango and can do things like group them together by topic and theme, with one “message” that contains multiple items. So we know what happens when some of the content providers start putting ads in their feeds – our members drop them like hot potatos and pick up other feeds. Those silly ad-hungry providers just can’t figure out that they will lose in the end.

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