The Guardian Makes It Super Simple For Blogs To Repost Its Content

from the contrarian-journalism dept

We’ve pointed out a few times that The Guardian newspaper in the UK is not just a believer in the value of keeping its content free online, but is also doing a lot of very interesting experiments. As we hear daily about newspapers and organizations like the Associated Press threatening to sue blogs that repost some of their content (even for commentary purposes), The Guardian is going in the completely opposite direction. As part of its Open Platform program, it has created a tool that lets any WordPress-based blog repost any Guardian article for free. Yes, this is the complete opposite of what most publications are doing. Rather than whining about “freeloaders” and “copycats” and “aggregators,” The Guardian has decided to embrace them and take advantage of the situation.

The only conditions are that you have to republish the full article in the exact format provided (including “text, links and images”). That’s because The Guardian is also embedding ads with those syndicated stories. Assuming the ads are not particularly intrusive or annoying, then I would imagine that many blogs find this to be a perfectly reasonable deal. And, yes, if you were wondering, the site doing the syndication is free to include their own ads elsewhere on the page. However, according to The Guardian’s explanation of this offering, you can add your own commentary — it just needs to go above The Guardian’s content.

Basically, the Guardian seems to be realizing what so many other newspapers have failed to grasp: that people republishing your stuff are helping to promote your work and spread your work in useful ways. Rather than breaking out the lawyers and the nastygrams, why not figure out a way to make everyone better off?

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Companies: the guardian

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Comments on “The Guardian Makes It Super Simple For Blogs To Repost Its Content”

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Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Eh? Not sure how this hurts their legal case if someone strips out the ads. The Guardian isn’t surrendering its copyright and it’s still requiring that you agree to its (contractual) conditions before using the plguin. If anything, this helps in two ways:

(1) Every time you use their WordPress plug-in, it includes this message:

PLEASE NOTE: Add your own commentary here above the horizontal line, but do not make any changes below the line (Of course, you should also delete this text before you publish this post.)

If you delete that text though, that’s a pretty good sign that you’ve read the text. And if you then remove any ads, the Guardian now has an excellent case that your breach of contract / copyright infringement was not innocent but willful.

(2) Every time you use the Guardian plug-in, the Guardian’s servers probably log this in some way. Using those logs, it shouldn’t be too hard to create an automated service that visits blogs hosting Guardian content and check to see if the blogs are stripping out the ads. You can, of course, easily circumvent this (copy and paste), but that’s not any worse than what bloggers can do right now. Plus, since enforcing compliance among plug-in users can be easily automated, that frees up legal resources to go after the more clever copyright infringers (if they so choose of course — it might not be worth their time).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

yes, but at that point, it becomes not a clear case of copyright violation anymore, but a more murky case of not clearly understanding the terms. what happens if an automated service provider happens to offer up the a stripped feed automatically, which others then use as source material? the service provider would be in the clear (as they are innocent, remember?) and the end users would be none the wiser.

the guardian is putting themselves in the position of having to argue intent in a copyright violation case, arguing semantics of a terms and conditions document. how would they do it? shrink wrap? long declaratory text? would they require every blog that might use their content to enforce the same terms on all of their readers as well?

this is what a can of worms looks like when opened.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure if you’ll bother answering this intelligently, but I might as well try:

“they will have a much harder time being able to go after anyone legally as a result of their open policy”

Why? If their terms & conditions clearly state that this is not allowed (as they appear to do), why would violation of those T&Cs be more difficult to prosecute than under previous conditions?

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

the guardian will find its content filtered and reposted without links or ads,
Why would someone go to the extra effort of doing that?

and they will have a much harder time being able to go after anyone legally as a result of their open policy.

Translated into the language of the real world:

“they will save a lot of money by avoiding pointless legal action.”

they pretty much just doomed themselves.

Who are you to question the wisdom of an institution which has survived for nearly 200 years.

Believe me the Guardian has a history of “giving away that which it cannot keep to gain that which it cannot lose”

Consider the following:

CP Scott died in 1932 and was followed only four months later by Edward, so sole ownership fell to JR Scott. Faced with the potential of crippling death duties and the predatory interest of competitors, Scott contemplated a radical move to ensure the future of both the Guardian and the highly profitable Manchester Evening News. He concluded that the only solution was to give away his inheritance, a far-reaching solution which provoked close advisor (and future Lord Chancellor) Gavin Simonds to conclude: “you are trying to do something which is very repugnant to the law of England. You are trying to divest yourself of a property right”.

(from )

The Guardian is a survivor. It has always found a way to keep going against the odds. It will do so again.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Evil AC, the guardian will find its content filtered

Policies like this makes me WANT to find a way to pay. They get it. They are doing things different.

“the guardian will find its content filtered and reposted without links or ads”
Pretty much the way things are now. They realize that a little of something is better than all of nothing, and may turn out to bring in more readers. I believe most will leave the ads, if they are not to intrusive. Makes me want to start a blog just to help them out. See how that works?

Andrew F (profile) says:


I’ll often read a blog post that quotes and links to a news article but not actually click the link. Therefore, although I read the news site’s content, they don’t get any ad revenue from me.

With this new system, if the blog post includes the full Guardian post and ads, the Guardian gets to count me as an ad impression even if I never visit their website. Win! It also increases the chance that I’ll actually read the full article (there’s a smaller psychological barrier to scrolling down vs. clicking a link).

Ray Dowd (profile) says:

Reposting Content From Publications on Blogs

I have noticed that when I seek to post a link from some publications, they automatically insert an enclosure link for my blog post. An enclosure link is a unique link that corresponds to my blog post.

That means if someone tries to click on the link to my blog post, they would be redirected to the newspaper, not to my blog. That’s overstepping, and too high a price for a blogger to pay.

I now delete these “suggested” enclosure links, but put a link to the content in the body of my post. I have never run into the ad issue, but don’t usually repost content in full.

Daniel Levitt (user link) says:

A few answers

Hello all,

I devised and created the plugin so I’m happy that its receiving (on the whole here, I think …) good feedback.

Just to clarify a few things you are commenting on, in particular the 24 hour rule.

You can post anything you like above or below the content, (look for the watermarks in the HTML view), but the guardian article will automatically update itself every 24 hours.

This is to ensure you have the most up-to-date version, which might have important corrections, but also to ensure that our ads are also included. If someone deletes the ads then after 24 hours they will be back within the watermarks.

We are trying to make it as easy as possible for people to follow the terms and conditions by simply letting the software do most of the work for them.

I’m the developer so I’m more technically minded than commercial but feel free to email me at if you’ve got any more questions.


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