Handling RSS Theft

Source Title:
How I handle RSS theft (part one)
Story Text:

Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc details how he handles what he calls "RSS theft" - "lifting our RSS Feeds and putting advertising against them". Though his methods are pretty standard, and obvious, it's an interesting subject, and one i'd like to open up here if anyone would care to add how they handle this kind of thing....

I did find this statement fairly naive though....

In this case, someone is doing an advertising supported RSS reader which is a huge infringement and something Bloglines, My Yahoo, and Newsgator don’t—and never—would do without permission from the publisher of the feed in advance.

ya reckon Jason?

There'll be a showdown at some point over RSS, it can't be long now....


How does someone get. so respected yet ..

... still manage to be so naive.

For sure..

I know for a fact that these services would never put ads against full feeds because:

a) it is illegal
b) against our Terms of Service and license
c) it is short term thinking: if you sell ads against full-feeds without permission publishers will stop full feeds
d) because I've talked to the heads of the major RSS firms and have gotten commitments from them that would not do this.

If anyone does this we will simple ban their service from getting full feeds and put a notice in the except feeds on their site saying "to read our full-feeds please us a Weblogs, Inc. approved RSS reader like A, B, or C."

The way this will shake out is that the major RSS readers will strike deals with publishers to share ad revenue (70-30, 80-20, 90-10... something like that) with the RSS readers. In fact, I've been talking to some readers about putting our ad code into their readers so that when they show our content they can get a portion of that revenue.

If any feed company wants to start making money with us they can call me at 310-828-8284 or email me at jason at calacanis dot com

I'd love to see the RSS readers make some money by working WITH us.

aren't you making $?

Perhaps I'm missing something...

I was having a look at integrating your feeds into my aggregator the other day, when I saw all the rss adsense ads in each post I decided against it (looked too spammy with all the ads)... wouldn't you be making extra money by having these ads shown wherever? Not to mention highly relevant backlinks...

>> I was having a look at

>> I was having a look at integrating your feeds into my aggregator
>> the other day, when I saw all the rss adsense ads in each post I
>> decided against it (looked too spammy with all the ads)... wouldn't
>> you be making extra money by having these ads shown wherever? Not
>> to mention highly relevant backlinks...

Very good point Lanson. Perhaps we will do deals are some point where we get the ads in the feed and the RSS reader company might get to have an advertisement around the feed.

However, at this point we want to have control of how are feeds are published.

Sure, end users can us the feeds... we just don't want them republished without our permission.

best j

put a notice in the except

put a notice in the except feeds on their site saying "to read our full-feeds please us a Weblogs, Inc. approved RSS reader like A, B, or C."

Oh good, because having just escaped the "designed for IE6 @ 1024x768" internet era, we're obviously just clamouring for jumped up egotists to tell us 'how things are'.

(note: egotist isn't aimed specifically at you; more at anyone who dictated in the way described above)

Bloglines, My Yahoo, and

Bloglines, My Yahoo, and Newsgator are all commercial companies which make money providing services which in some way or the other envolves your content.

All shareware desktop RSS readers also make money that way.

Why is that commercial use different from advertising?

Even if you put Adsense in the feed ...

... it is a fairly trivial programming exercise to replace all the publisher codes.

Personally, i don't bother

Personally, i don't bother worrying about it. Life's too short for that kind of uphill battle.

If you don't want people using your feeds, don't publish via RSS

the concept of RSS is simple

Really simple: Syndication

That's what it's for. You publish RSS feeds so that people can take them and syndicate them. Which is: Republish them along with other sources in a format of their liking.

Ads have nothing to do with syndication as such, and hence the entity publishing the RSS feed should have no say over ads published by the aggregator/syndicator. You leave the feed for the syndicator to peruse at will, so to speak.

The reason you use RSS is to get your message out. To get read in other places than on your own preferred www URL. Places which are not under your control. No less and no more than that.

Not to advertise/stop advertisement, or to let others advertise/stop them from advertising. It's just not a relevant issue. If people want to advertise, well, then they will. And if they don't they don't. No big deal.

Some people might not like your own ads, so they can take them out of your feed with a program, that's great. If they don't like images and your feed has got them, they can remove these as well. And, if they don't like you using certain words, they can replace those with others as well. They could even correct typo's and spelling. All those things are equally great.

It's a brand new way of publishing, and publishers (as well as writers, etc.) should understand that.

You give up control, that's what you do. That's the whole powerful and great idea here: Let others decide how they wish to peruse your writing without confining or restricting them in any way.

There is no such thing as "RSS Theft"

I should really add that there is no such thing as "RSS Theft".

RSS is something that you give away. The moment you have published it, it has left your property. It can not be stolen from you, because it is not yours. Or, anyones.

You simply can't give something away and then claim that the person(s) accepting the gift has stolen it.

If you are worried about the potential use of the gifts you give to humanity, then don't give. Publish books, papers, HTML pages, emails, pdf's ... in stead. You have plenty of other options with restricted use. You can even patent your thoughts if they are original enough.

Otherwise, give and spread joy.

That's where the debate

That's where the debate comes in though claus, many contend that their CC licenses must be adhered to...

I dont' really mind people

I dont' really mind people putting ads around my republished rss, but i object most strongly to being republished without attribution - that happens on a fairly regular basis....


*cough* Stephanie Olsen? *cough* Ahhh, that's better, my throats clear now


- i can see that. One would always like to get proper attribution, as that's what one's accustomed to. It's the nice thing to do.

OTOH, from what I posted above it really follows that I should defend "no attibution necessary" with regard to RSS feeds.

I believe it's the nice thing to do, and the right thing to do as a syndicator/aggregator to acknowledge your sources, and at least post the name and/or a link.

Added: And for any type of journalist it should be mandatory, except in the few cases where source protection is needed.

However, I'm not sure I believe that you can/should put any conditions on the use of a RSS feed at all.

In some odd way I don't personally see it as abuse. Feeds are a medium for the brave: If you use it, you give it away - it's the only free electronic medium there is, afaik.

Edited/added: There's one thing I didn't think about until I considered publishing a RSS feed myself:

If the RSS feed is equal to the content of a web page, then what? I suppose in this case, either the restrictions on web page use are void or that you might possibly be able to impose restrictions on the RSS feed.

I'm not sure which of the two I prefer, but I see that this might be "the bloggers' dilemma", as they do publish their writing in two different media simultaneously.

Don't give something away if

Don't give something away if you don't want someone else to use it, nuff said.

Shouldn't that be...

Don't publish something if you don't want someone else to use it?

Copyright law has always been fairly weak and poorly enforced and the web has just made it even less enforceable. Do you think that a few emails would make any kind of impact on less than honourable people in the less well off areas of the world.

In my opinion you just have to publish your crap faster than they are - RSS just removes the small advantage that you might have. Otherwise they are going to end up richer than you.

You could always ...

You could always mention your domain name in your posts. Hard to work in to make it seem logical, but that would be one way ...

The Web ain't the problem with Copyright

It's not the technology that makes the laws seem weak. It's the widespread ignorance that has been rampant since long before the Internet began. People today will think nothing of taking copyrighted books and magazines and photocopying them for "private" distribution.

The real problem with enforcing copyright on the Internet is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which places the burden on copyright owners to do their own enforcement. It's a real hassle to force electronic publishers to comply. Many of them discourage complaints by requiring copyright owners to fill out huge forms.

I have yet to fill out eBay's four-page form, but I continue to insist they respect my copyrights when people illegally sell my content on their service.

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