NY Times Confused About Its Own RSS Feed; Orders Takedown Of iPad RSS Reader

from the let-me-explain-the-internet-to-you dept

A whole bunch of you are sending in the bizarre news that the NY Times has sent a takedown for a popular iPad RSS reader because (*gasp*) it offers the NY Times' own RSS feed. Amusingly, this app was praised by the NY Times itself in a review just last week. It was also praised by Steve Jobs in his keynote at WWDC yesterday. As Wired notes, the details of the takedown request suggest that the NY Times is unfamiliar with the basics of both RSS and the web.

Basically, this app is your standard everyday RSS reader, the same sort of RSS reader that has been available all over the place for years. It's using the NY Times official RSS feed, because the NY Times put it out there. For the NY Times to then complain about it doing so is bizarre:
The Pulse News Reader app, makes commercial use of the NYTimes.com and Boston.com RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use*. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the NYTimes.com and Boston.com websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use.
I'm guessing their concern is with the fact that the RSS reader is a paid app. This likely this goes back to an issue I raised more than five years ago, about companies who were putting "non-commercial" licenses on their RSS feed. How do you determine what's "non-commercial" in RSS? If I use that RSS feed as a part of my job, is that commercial? If I use it in a fee-based app, is that commercial? Either way, it's hard to see how this is really commercial use in any way. Yes, the RSS app is a fee-based app, but it's not "selling" the NY Times' content. It's just letting anyone access the free content that the NY Times put out for just this purpose. It's selling the software. In the same way Dell or HP or whoever sells a computer and lets people "access" the NY Times website.

This is actually pretty surprising. While the NY Times is pursuing a brain-dead paywall strategy, it had seemed like that was mostly upper management's doing. The Times' has pretty good tech folks who have done some neat things, and I've heard their General Counsel speak about copyright issues, and he has always seemed pretty on top of things (i.e., recognized the value of fair use and worried about excessively locked down copyright).

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  1. identicon
    vastrightwing, 8 Jun 2010 @ 1:09pm

    Total Disconnect

    Am I the only one who sees a huge disconnect here?

    The argument seems to be that if an application is paid for, you can't use the RSS feed. Is this what I'm hearing? If so, then what about using IE? You paid for that app. Why isn't the New York Times screaming to Microsoft and demanding that Microsoft pay? how about other RSS readers? I'm sure there are plenty of people using commercial RSS readers which they had to buy. Or at least the capability is bundled with other software, which was paid for. I can't reconcile how the New York Times cares what application downloads their feed. This is sounding an aweful lot like HULU and how they want to limit the specific kinds of devices which downloads their content. This is insane people! Insane! Next up, only Fords and GM cars can use roads. All other (so called) cars are not allowed.

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