Trouble Brewing over Search Engines, Aggregators and Copyrights

26 comments
Thread Title:
Why I Have Asked Bloglines To Remove My Site From Its 'Service'
Thread Description:

Scoble points out a row brewing over RSS aggregator Bloglines and Russ Beattie widens the debate into search engines aswell.

Lawyer gets Shirty over Bloglines

Martin Schwimmer, a lawyer who runs Trademark Blog said on Friday:

It was brought to my attention that a website named Bloglines was reproducing the Trademark Blog, surrounding it with its own frame, stripping the page of my contact info. It identifies itself as a news aggregator. It is not authorized to reproduce my content nor to change the appearance of my pages, which it does.

I create content in part to promote my law firm, which I cannot do effectively if my contact info is removed. I do not participate in targeted advertising programs because the majority of advertisers that target the keyword 'trademark' are competitors. I cannot prevent such advertising when my page is reproduced and 'framed' by a third party.

Martins site was (it does not say this now) licensed under the Creative Commons which essentially means that you can quote from it or copy the posts for non commercial use provided attribution is given.

This to me seems like a fair point. Not one I'd feel necessary to follow or support but a fair point nonetheless. Russ Beattie disagrees:

So yeah, I think this guy Martin Schwimmer is a anal-retentive pinhead

and

Martin's whole tone about the service pissed me off. He talked about it like it was some fly-by-night spam operation copying his content for devious commercial purposes. Moron. The question is does he think Google's cached copy of his website is illegal as well? Has he sent a complaining email to them? What about My Yahoo's RSS aggregator? Is Martin going to take on Yahoo next?

Though he does go on to make a larger point:

Since then I've come to the conclusion that since commercial search engines and aggregators don't charge for the content they serve, they should not be subject to non-commercial licenses or general copyright infringement. I think this is the border of fair use. They make money through the value they add to the content, not the content itself. The difference is subtle but important. That said, Creative Commons should make it *very* clear that advertising around the non-commercial marked content is against their license if they think so, or no if not. I don't think they've made it clear, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks for pointing that out Russell.

Well Russ, we had that discussion right here a few months back and its one that's been debated hotly in the Search community for years. If you can manage to get past the "it's not illegal because i find it useful" argument that you appear to be taking (and many many more do aswell) it's an interesting legal question.

Do Search Engines and RSS Aggregators have the right to use your content?

Martin responded to widespread knee-jerk criticism yesterday. Among other things, he had this to say:

Creating the free content for advertisements that Bloglines will sell to other trademark law firms. This isn't baseless conjecture - read this discusssion of Bloglines' plans for advertising keyed to the content of blogs. At least with Google's contextual ad program, the blog creator gets some money.

Bloglines is also accumulating and possibly selling a list of my subscribers without so much as a hello, how are you, may we do this? My decision to remove my site, viewed as rash by some, was triggered as much as what I viewed as the disingenuous nature of the response I received from Blogline when I wrote them.

Knee Jerk Reactions to Schwimmers Move

As is always the case when this debate comes up, a number of knee jerk reactions are published, some quite heated. In my opinion, some of the folks here need to look at this again after going for a brisk walk and a cold shower. Schwimmer has an excellent point. Not necessarily a realistic one, a popular one or one that will benefit all of mankind, but a good point nonetheless.

Scoble wrote:

The real trick here is: if you don't want your full posts reprinted somewhere else, don't put them into RSS. That's one reason most commercial sites don't include full content in their feeds.

To which Schwimmer asked if, on that basis, could he record NBC's VHF broadcasts and redistribute them with their ads stripped out and his own put in their place?

Talking about not having contact info provided in aggregated feeds staci at paidcontent said:

A better solution -- since he's advertising his firm -- would be to insert an info line in every post that comes through the feed.

This would be a reasonable idea as a workaround but again fails to address the point Schwimmer is making: Is it Legal? It really isnt about "having to live with it becuase everyone else finds it useful", it's a legal question that has some genuine merit in it's concerns - IMO it should not be the responsibility of the publisher to make workarounds, publish robots.txt exclusion files or initiate mod_rewrite redirects for bots that he does not want indexing/copying content - it's the aggregators and search engines responsibility to address a problem that if not now, at some very near point in the future will bite them in the arse in a big way.

For what it's worth, Threadwatch actually add a small navigation to the bottom of each syndicated post - and that could easily contain contact info also, my point is though, that that is not the point.

So where do Publishers and Aggregators/Engines Stand?

Im not sure that anyone really has the definitive answer to this, when we disussed it a few months back the general feeling was that it would take a fairly high profile case to be tested in a US court to make a ripple wide enough to have any real bearing on the whole issue of copied content for commercial use. Googe do it for a living, so do bloglines (they're biz model is rumoured to start this summer) and so do any number of other search engines, aggregators and smaller sites.

What is clear to me is that getting all hot and bothered because someone dares bring it up for debate on the general basis of "we like it, so it's okay" is not a good argument. In fact, some of the people linked above, and included in the list below really should take a long look at their views - to call some of them knee jerk reactions is to give them far too much credit.

List of Sites Discussing Schwimmer vs Bloglines

If you want just the juicey quotes then scobles post has the same links (thanks robert) but with nice quotes from each piece.

So, tell us what you think...

Well, that's enough from me other than to say that personally im very happy to have bloglines make a few pennies out of distributing my content and making it easy for people to find. Likewise with Google/Yahoo and others. However, i'll just restate one last time that "we like it! so it's okay!" is NOT a grown up argument - im really looking forward to a big court case on this at some point, we all know it'll happen and it'll be very interesting!

Comments

Time will tell ...

Good post, Nick!

There have been several cases in Europe, that I know of, that have had to deal with this and similar issues. One of the first was actually here in Denmark against Newsbooster that was pretty much just a simple news-focused spider and search engine - more simple than even the (back then) simple FAST news search. Anyway, Newsbooster got busted for what they did based on terms that would fit just about any search engine today 8and actually also fit FAST back then). However, it will take some major company to take up the fight with the likes of MSN, Yahoo and Google. I've had the dsicussion with a few of Denmarks largest firms but even they feel to small for the job.

Also, I think it's worth to notice that several local Google distribution partners have in the past, and still do, disabled the "cache" function - TDCOnline dont have it, Eniro dont have it and Yahoo.dk (before they closed) did not have it. I know for a fact that one of the reasons they all decided not to have it was (and is) because they did not feel it was safe - legally. Google.dk, however, have it.

From all I know about copyright law (and thats actually one of the few areas of Danish law I know something about as I used to run a publishing company) the Google cache is NOT legal in Denmark. They are violating several things in the law for the cache and not the least the immage search. But, untill someone stand up and spend the time and money on a trial they can go ahead as they like ...

Likewise I think that, as described to me, what is happening in the "Martin Schwimmer" case might be illegal - at least here in Denmark (which off course dosn't count in this particular case).

So, go hit it and find out ... :)

So, I am not a lawyer, but I think that it is important that we do get some strong cases of these issues tested with our courts (whereever we live). I may be wrong in my conclusions above, but nobody knows for sure before we get some cases closed. So, I welcome any lawyer that think he have a case and want to prove it. Win it or not but lets get this sorted out.

Value Add

I object to the quote you've included cutting my first sentence in half, which makes me seem like many of the other knee-jerk responders. Additionally, you've over-simplified my reasoning. I agree that Schwimmer has a point, and raised the subject 2 years ago in my weblog in no uncertain terms. It's not just that I find the services useful, therefore they should be legal. It's that they derive profit from the value they add on top of what is publicly available content already. Though I think search engines may be taking this to extremes, Blogliens is acting as a proxy for me anyways, so it should fall well-within fair use.

-Russ

Updated

Quote:
I object to the quote you've included cutting my first sentence in half, which makes me seem like many of the other knee-jerk responders. Additionally, you've over-simplified my reasoning.

Russell, that's a fair point. I've updated my original post to include what i took to be the larger issue raised in your piece.

It was a cracking opener though mate :) and i couldn't resist such an outstanding quote! heh..

FWIW, i agree with your point on added value, but i still dont think that it would hold up in court, or at the least it's a very shaky argument.

Now, finally, welcome to Threadwatch! do introduce yourself here and just use the pm system on the left if you have any questions.

Cheers.

We're going to see these sort

We're going to see these sort of things rise up periodically until we finally drag the DMCA through the courts via internet publishing cases.

A curious question - has Schwimmer disabled his dynamic feeds that invite people to syndicate his content?

I think there is one big, and

I think there is one big, and very general, misunderstanding regarding copyright law. Just because something is publically available dosn't mean you have any rights to use it for anything else than strictly personal, private use. Even if you pay for it, you would usually only obtain a limited personal license, such as it is the case with subscription news or a music CD.

As far as I can see Bloglines add far less value than what Newsbooster did and they lost the case here anyway. Other similar cases has been lost in other countries. I don't know if Bloglines would loose a case in the US but I think it is very likeley.

More coming in

There is more discussion and suggestions being made regarding the RSS syndication side of this. First, this from Scoble:

Quote:
Yesterday was a sad day for me. It was the day that DRM in RSS was born.

I tried to give you guys a way out without destroying the whole system. Here's the choices I give you:

1) Put all your content into RSS like me and let the world do with your content what it likes.

2) Put only enough content in your RSS feed so that the world can know what you're talking about but they'll need to come back to your site to see the full content (and all your ads and contact info).

3) Don't participate in RSS at all and just stick with HTML, which already has accepted copyright patterns (by the way, how come you guys aren't yelling about Google's caching? Did you see that all your pages are cached over on Google? That breaks with traditional copyright law too, but so far we've been cool with that too. Why? It helps everyone.

and then this from Sun's Tim Bray:

Quote:
Schwimmer may not have a firm grasp of the issues, but he does have a point; it’s reasonable to be concerned about Person A building a business around Person B’s feed.

Reasonable to be concerned, I say; but not reasonable to try to stop happening. At the end of the day it’s just nuts to try to fine-tune what other people do with your syndication fee. Which is to say, if you’re putting your full content in your feed, I think you’re pretty much giving it to the world. Whether you want to or not, it’s in the nature of the syndication beast. Not just RSS; Atom ain’t gonna change this.

Both of which are good points i think but im still far from convinced as to how this would play out in court..

Yahoo's View

Jeremy Z of Yahoo has a good comment on Russ B's site giving a My.Yahoo perspective:

Quote:
He doesn't need to "take on" Yahoo at all. If he requests removal his feed, it'll get removed. There's also a fairly good "permission" system build into the RSS infrastructure (at My Yahoo) that's never been surfaced yet, but the idea is to let publishers tell us about the ways we can and cannot use their content.

They own it, so they should have some control over it.

Which part of "Internet" did he not understand?

I always wonder at the logic of whining about how another site presents one's web site because once something goes up on the Internet, all means of control over its destiny is lost. (password protected sites excluded.)

It's like driving a car with no steering wheel or brakes. If one's web property is so critically valuable that how its presented by other sites must be controlled, the danged thing belongs in the garage.

If a site offers a feed, they're giving permission to be picked up by anyone, including web sites that they may not want to be associated with. There's always a risk there.

Having say over how one's site is used or displayed is going to be really difficult, unless you charge a fee perhaps. Say, pay me $5, sign a contract agreeing to my terms, and you can display and link to my site.

Heh. Even search engines make mince meat of web sites in SERPs. Just try to read some of the descriptions.

> If a site offers a feed, th

> If a site offers a feed, they're giving permission to be picked up by anyone, including web sites that they may not want to be associated with.

Picking it up is one thing - using it is another. You do NOT get a license to do any kind of republishing just because a document, in whatever format, is published on any website.

Simple Test

For SEs/Directories/Aggregators etc, I have a simple test for Copyright Infringement which, although perhaps not to the letter of the law, certainly embodies my philosophy on the matter.

1) Is the information presented in such a way as to direct me to the listed site to get the full answer to my question? If so, copyright is not infringed. E.G., SERPs with snippets.

2) Is the information presented in such a way that I can get the full answer to my question without having to go to the linked site? If so, copyright is infringed. E.G., cached pages/sites.

There is a whole gamut of services out there using copyright material in one way or another, some legally, some not. These range from Search Engines offering cached versions, so called Internet Archives, Aggregators and Engines republishing data as new content, Directories publishing non-visible content such as Keyword Tags, and so on. And that is not taking into account such black-hat areas as screen scraping & republishing.

Once content is created it is copyright and as such must be respected as such and applicable laws obeyed. Even if it is made available for republishing, any restrictions applied to that availability must also be obeyed.

However, as Mikkel suggests, it is going to take someone big enough to make a stand on these issues.

What I do find interesting though is companies who routinely spider for content, without first asking permission, to index the web, yet disallow any spidering of their results. Hmmm, seems to be a double standard there methinks.

I very much agree, Woz, excep

I very much agree, Woz, except that even under your first point (1) it could be a violation. Not to repeat myself, but Newsbooster did in fact fall under that way of doing it and still lost.

Likewise you are not allowed to grab 30 seconds of a piece of music and publish it on your site, just because you can listen to a full version on the artists site and you link to it.

Almost

Hehe, well I did say it was not perhaps the letter of the law Mikkel, but it is certainly a very strong starting point before getting into the nitty gritty of the law.

I am not familiar with the Newsbooster case per se, but I am interested why it would would not fall under the provisions of "Fair Use".

Copyright is certainly a much misunderstood concept and I am sure that copyright laws need to be ammended for online use of material, both to provide provision for SE type activity under strict guidelines, and to reinforce protection for those who create the original content.

Fair use ...

Fair use only covers the minimum amount of information necessary to make the point - once you go past that, you are infringing, typically.

I don't buy the "if it's on the internet, I can steal it" concept. Anyone who has had a website stolen is likly to agree.

So what is the difference between me going to your website and taking your webpages, and me taking your RSS feed?

Well, for starters, there is an implied permission to republish built into putting something into an RSS feed. That's what an RSS feed IS.

So I would argue that you give permission to republish your content when you submit it to an RSS feed - just like a press release.

The next question is, do you give up all rights to your content when you give rights to republish? I doubt it. At the very least, I would argue the author retains moral rights. I would also argue that if you took someone's RSS feed and published it as a book for it would be a violation - permission was never implicitly or expressly given for that.

So the issue is, where is the line?

I would say that if you offer something for republishing and expressly withold permission to do something, then that permission would take.

However, if you release that information into a medium or system where the uses are well known and clear, then you are basically giving permission to use it the way that medium works when you submit it to it.

So the question is: What is the implied or specified use of an RSS feed?

Ian

[quote]Well, for starters, th

Quote:
Well, for starters, there is an implied permission to republish built into putting something into an RSS feed. That's what an RSS feed IS.So I would argue that you give permission to republish your content when you submit it to an RSS feed - just like a press release.

Can you explain how you arrive at this conclusion, Ian?

Many sites publish in RSS format so that people can read content in RSS readers. Fair use excepted, it is no more a licence to republish than HTML is. Or email. Or any other data format.

oops, let me clarify - I mean

oops, let me clarify - I meant (and mean) the RSS reader as republisher - that's confusing. Basically, if you publish an RSS feed, you should expect it to end up in an RSS reader, web-based (ie my yahoo) or stand alone RSS program.

It does NOT mean you can expect it to show up in an email, newsletter, HTML page, magazine, etc.

Hows' that? Sorry, I was sleepy... "republish" was a bad choice of wording, and connecting "press release" to the same sentence even more so...

Ian

Can you explain how yo

Quote:
Can you explain how you arrive at this conclusion, Ian?

Peter, I can't speak for Ian, but even on SEB, there is a statement in the XML feed as follows:

Quote:
It is intended to be viewed in a Newsreader or syndicated to another site.

No conditions are attached to the use of syndication to another site - at least, in that example.

By the way - does anyone here actually have any objection to having their headlines in spiderable links syndicated on another site??

Scoble get's a kickin'

Scoble who stated that the trick was to NOT publish an RSS feed is wrong. I infered as much in my original post. Now, he's taking a bit of a kickin' from around the web:

Marc Goodner said:

Quote:
Somtimes Sooble doesn't get it. This is an example of that. The solution is not to stop using RSS. What Martin is complaining about is infringing use, his content is licensed under a Creative Commons license that is crystal clear that attribution is required, non-commercial use of the content is OK, and that no derivative works are permitted. That license is attached to his content in both a human readable form and in a easy to understand XML file that is machine processable. This is the norm for blogs. Why do no aggregators respect this?

and Eric Barzeski said:

Quote:
Imagine if Bloglines eventually does begin selling advertisements. Bloglines will immediately begin breaking copyright (and Creative Commons) law and license. This particular blog is licensed under an "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike" policy. Bloglines clearly advertises their copyright as " Copyright © 2003-2004 Trustic, Inc. All rights reserved" and does so even on pages displaying my content (example).

Uhhhhh… no.

I have not written to Bloglines to have them remove my feeds (it'd probably render the link above 404), but it's clear that they're violating the law. If they begin putting ads or charging for their service, they'll be violating even more laws.

Which is all true.

Bloglines and other aggregators need to sort this out quickly. One way would be to respect the creative commons xml file and NOT publish those feeds - the dramatic loss of visitors would soon have bloggers changing their licenses :)

Peter, I can't speak

Quote:
Peter, I can't speak for Ian, but even on SEB, there is a statement in the XML feed as follows

Yes, I know Brian. It comes from Blogger.

My point is that the format of publication doesn't imply that people can therefore breach copyright. Fair use syndication is fine. If people make money from republishing it, that's a different story, however.

Quote:
Hows' that? Sorry, I was sleepy...

Thanks for clarifying, Ian :)

Agent

Both Russell Beattie and Ian bring up a good point - any webbased aggregator is acting as my agent (or proxy or some other mumbo-jumbo) as the subscriber to the feed - they are acting on my behalf. It is not like they are splashing it up on a web page for anyone who has not sought the feed out, and opted in, to see.

Schwimmer wants to use his blog to market his services, that requires that he obtain readers. Obviously he really does not understand how blogs work or he's cagy like a fox and doing the old "publicity by lawsuit" trick. ;)

I'm a link slut.

Most sites that scout for feeds and present them, whether it's the headline only or headline and whole post, have not requested permission from me to do so, but have emailed to let me know they've found my blog feed and have included it. Gives me the option of saying "no thanks" but I'm greedy and want the exposure.

I find new links to my blog all the time, and am amazed at how many names it has...surprisingly, not many actually call it "Cre8pc Blog" which is the real title. They use my name, or the topic, or the name of the web site it's related to ("Cre8pc"), whatever.

Is it a copyright violation to not call my stuff the right name? Maybe, but again, I'm grateful for the link and not about to complain about it.

Peter wrote "My point is that the format of publication doesn't imply that people can therefore breach copyright. Fair use syndication is fine. If people make money from republishing it, that's a different story, however."

Yeah. Think we're drinking the same tea. But again, I'm not opposed to an aggretator putting up ads, in the same spirit of forums hosting, which also provides a free service but has to generate some funds to help support costs.

I really hate to complain because what we're creating now could bite us later - meaning, soon we'll be paying people to link to us at all, or the reverse, demanding payment for every link and mention, to give website owners absolute control over everything. I hate the idea of a few lawsuits having everyone running scared and creating such distrust that the party will be over.

On the other hand, the theft of someone's work, stealing content, and otherwise calling something "yours" when it belongs to "them" is cause to defend one's rights. Wish the same hoopla applied to calling people names and bashing their companies or reputation, in an effort to put them out of business. Why is there general public permission and acceptance for these practices?

The main point ...

The main point, I think, is that none of this was an issue until commercial interests became involved.

Stripping out someone's contact information and replacing it with your own, or selling ads surrounding someone elses work expressly against their permission is wrong. This isn't like a SE SERP or newspaper where the contextual ads are in place, but you knew that going in.

As soon as you start running your aggregator as a business, it's not unreasonable for the people providing the content that makes the aggregator useful to begin to think of it as a business, too.

IMO, if you are running an aggregator for the free use of the public and the benifit of all - fine. But if you begin to apply business rules to your end, then expect others to do so on theirs as well, and respect it. No one likes the feeling of being taken advantage of for anothers profit. The same rules apply to both sides.

To paraphrase Yoda, sell, or do not sell, there is no provide... ;)

Ian

Is it commerical or is it offsetting expenses for free service?

Ian wrote: " No one likes the feeling of being taken advantage of for anothers profit."

So true and agreed.

But I'm reminded of F***cked.company.com. It's been online, and generating revenue, for years and is stronger than ever. When I first saw it, in 2001, I wondered how the guy stayed in business.

That aside, he's earning revenue by riding on other people's bad luck or hard times. To me, this is far more tasteless than Bloglines earning a buck for what was a free service (if they pull their ads service, they'll have to change their business model most likely.)

I'm really interested in this as a forums owner. We've debated putting up ads to offset our expenses. So far we've considered it tacky. But, if we did do it, would we run into a situation where a thread about someone's web site has to be removed because the forums are making money on it due to page views?

When is it generating a profit, or just trying to offset personal expenses for a free service?

Are we now going to deny or regulate the right to support web site services? Many are labors of love and asking only for a wee bit to keep them going, but aren't making any profit or paying for trips to Bermuda.

I don't deny Martin Schwimmer his right to speak up or his feelings. What worries me more is the fall out and how it will effect us (web site owners and companies, etc.) in the long run. And, am I doing everything to CMA (Cover My Ass)? Is asking for a donation going to bring on a lawsuit because doing so has the appearance of being commerical?

I agree Kim, hosting a forum

I agree Kim, hosting a forum or website is not free, and providing a place to read someone's RSS (or forum posts) could arguably be seen as allowing the content provider to profit unfairly off of YOU.

How about this? I'm thinking out loud here and am ill, so bear with me...

How about this as a generally agreed upon ruleset:

1. Content managers and aggregators are allowed to run such advertising and charge such fees as to cover their costs of running and supporting it, as long as they are reasonable and unintrusive, and are actually about covering costs rather than profits.

2. RSS providers can promote themselves in a reasonable and unintrusive manner without interference from the aggregator in order to cover their costs. (I think posting your own affiliate links would be going too far, for example).

3. Once you go past covering costs and actually run into a reasonable expectation of profits, you are now in a business transaction and a different set of rules apply. For example, it should be disclosed that this is what you are doing and there should be an option to not get involved (better yet, opti-in rather than opt-out).

This is a messy rule of thumb, and I would not want to have to write the set of actual rules about it without a lot more thought and information, but would everyone see this as being fair?

The thing about RSS (and forums) is that it requires 2 parties involved, which complicates things. RSS requires feeder and aggregator, and a forum requires the actual forum, and the members to provide content.

One reason I never signed up to the paid section on webmasterworld was that I'm not a lurker, and it seemed wrong to let someone sell my posts for profit. Worse, *paying* someone for the right to have them sell my posts (along with others). If I was a passive lurker, it might be a different story. Personal opinion.

I personally don't have a problem with covering costs - it's donating my intellectual property to a profitable business without compensation I have an issue with. Even if the compensation is exposure or publicity, there should be *something*.

Ian

Not bad thinking while not feeling well

LOL

Those rules would work better in an atmoshere that functions like a community, which places like Bloglines aren't. If by some miracle, using Cre8asiteforums as an example, we made a profit after expenses (has never happened), we would present, to the community, the surplus and decide what to do with it. Chances are we would push for something non-profit, like donating to a cause or funding workshops "sponsored" by the forums. Again, not running a profit for personal gain.

Not sure news aggregators, search engines, directories and blogs are thinking like this, and as such, Mr. Schwimmer's arguments do give rise to some re-thinking about how things are being done.

Another example is Nick and reporters scouting threads and blog posts. If he decides to support his family and buy lots of pretty clothes for his lovely baby daughter, does he have to worry about someone not wanting to be featured here, because he's generating that revenue?

It's the ramifications of this "don't use my stuff for your own gain" that I wonder about.

Re: using my stuff for your gain

It's generally agreed by the courts that you are allowed to build upon what others have done. That's actually the reason patents and copyright exist - before they came about, everyone would just keep everything secret.

That's also why patents and copyrights expire, and why such a thing as fair use exists. Did you know that I can force someone to license their patent to me against their will under certain circumstances? (ie if you patent something but then refuse to license it out, and don't use it yourself, that's considered to be against the public interest, and I can get an order saying that you either begin using it or license it within a certain time frame, or I'm allowed to use it and then pay the royalties that a court deems fair.)

All this boils down to the fact that IP law wants to encourage innovation and progress, and discourage the hording of information.

So that means that you *can* use someone elses stuff for your own gain, IF you are making a significant inventive contribution and not harming them. And example would be someone patenting something and giving you an idea to patent something else in a different industry, or a designer studying other peoples designs while developing her techniques, and so forth.

Additionally, news reporting is all about making money off of the actions and opinions of others. You do (or say) something stupid or newsworthy and I write a column about it (thus making money). Technically, you are making money off of others (you are not making things up and being inventive - or at least, I would hope not...) but this is considered acceptable.

Where it's a problem is when you are actually using someone elses work, not as inspiration, but as itself. That is usually protected, but there are exceptions based on the public policy concerns above.

The question is, which exceptions apply, and under what circumstances? This is interesting - I'll do some research and see if I can come up with some useful guidlines for bloggers. No promises though - it's not like it's a settled area of law and I can point to a single case that solves everything.

Ian

Thank you

First, I'd like to Nick for writing such a great introductory post about this. Secondly, to Mikkel and the rest for responding, and adding their insights and comments. And finally to Ian for responding to my concerns - valid or not, I'm so curious about all of this.

Ian, don't sweat this but should you ever find further information you think I'd like to know about (okay, that would be everyting. I suck up info like a sponge), please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Funnily enough there's a thread at Cre8asite about the possible benefits or risks for company (business) blogging. I'll point out this thread, as it may be informative to someone.

Thanks again.

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