Robert Scoble is complaining that someone is repurposing his content.

It’s one thing to use it in an online news aggregator like Bloglines and its a whole nother thing to steal my content and put a different name on it and then spam everyone I link to with trackback spam.

This is content theft and its not OK. If you are advocating this is OK you simply don’t understand copyright law.

Sorry, Robert, but now I'm a bit confused.  You once said in March 2005 that "RSS is a republishing system" and that "by publishing RSS as full text you're buying into a system where your words will be republished in a variety of ways." Or, put another way, "put all your content into RSS like me and let the world do with your content what it likes".  What you gave, in effect, was an implied license that doesn't discern between commercial and non-commercial use.

Three months prior to that, you got upset when Martin wanted his feed removed from Bloglines.

I see Tyme and Martin's point. I really do. I know copyright law pretty darn well (media law was a required course in journalism school and believe me, newspapers and media care a LOT about copyright).

That said, RSS is a new system with new standards of usage. It is a SHARING system. When you use RSS you need to look at PRIOR USAGE.

Bloglines has been doing what it's been doing for years now. Why complain now?

And why not complain about MyYahoo. Have you noticed that your content is next to ads there? Oh, and Google and MSN are looking at aggregators. Are you going to complain when your content is next to ads on those systems?

Legally speaking, this spamblog isn't really much different from the web-based aggregator with ads. Going back to that previous incident, you may feel that republishing content on a linkblog is harmless (or, as I do, helpful in driving traffic), but obviously not everyone does. This is exactly the problem with buying into some implied set of rights by publishing an RSS feed - who defines these rights? Who says what can and can't be done with a feed?

The answer, of course, has to be the creator. Fortunately, the content's medium alone does not eliminate the author's rights in that content, and copyright grants the rightsholder the power to control (within reason) how the work is used.  I previously suggested that you consider the same Attribution-NonCommercial license I publish under. This requires someone who wants to reuse my content must attribute the work to me and can't use it for commercial purposes without my permission.

A license is not DRM for RSS - it's simply making explicit what you can and can't do with my content. If we have automated tools to honor those limitations, all the better.  The point is not to restrict (technically) any of these uses, but to take the uncertainty and subjectivity out of determining whether a particular use is acceptable. Ultimately, this will encourage more RSS feeds whic benefits us all. .

Now that someone has repurposed your feed in this way, I hope you will reconsider using that license.


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