Copyright Debate & RSS
The Copyright Debate & RSS
RSS is commonly defined as really simple syndication. So,
this means that any material contained in a feed is available for
syndication, right? Well no, not exactly. It means that the content
contained in an RSS feed is in a format that is syndication friendly,
if the copyright holder allows for syndication. Offering a feed
for syndication does not in fact grant any legal rights to anyone
to reuse the feeds content beyond what the Copyright laws grant
as Fair Use.
In practice, while your feed might legally be protected,
you could literally spend weeks attempting to protect the contents
of your feed. Legal gray areas are introduced with Search Engines
indexing feeds and RSS Feed Directories including copywritten feeds,
in their categorized directories. How do you distinguish between
a legitimate search engine, RSS directory and someone simply reproducing
the contents of a feed for personal gain? Legally how can you defend
against one and not the other?
One can ask whether it is legally is it wrong to reproduce
content in a feed. Morally is it wrong? Does the site have a purpose
or value outside of the syndicated content? Is the aggregation of
topic specific feeds in itself a value?
If you use the feeds for content and label the site
a directory does that make it any more legal? What about personal
web aggregators? If it is for personal use,is it OK?
Take a look at the following topic specific feed directories:
Financial Investing - http://www.finance-investing.com
Security Protection - http://www.security-protection.net
One could argue that the above sites do in fact provide
value, aggregating and categorizing related topic specific feeds
in a single location. In fact those in the security sector of the
finance arena might find the above sites of significant value but
what of the content creators?
Laws and Technology Collide
Most people publishing content via RSS support republication
of feeds. Because the technology is fairly new, the laws and legalities
are still murky. It is assumed that content in RSS is protected
by copyright laws but let us not forget the Internet is global and
their is not a centralized body governing what is right or what
is wrong. Not only does law and technology collide the laws of different
countries, those creating the feed and those displaying the contents
of the feed may contradict each other. It is for this reason, I
would advise that publishers using RSS to assume that the contents
of their RSS feeds will be syndicated and replicated.
Tips and Tricks to Protect Your Feed.
That is not to say there are not things that can be done
to protect feeds. At the end of the day being proactive is the best
way to protect intellectual property.
Part of feed protection is ensuring that appropriate
credit is given, this can be arranged by including a copyright assignment
in the final line of the Item Description field.
Additionally you can include links back to your website
in the Item description field.
Use teaser copy in the RSS feed's Item description
field, linking back to your website which contains the full contents
of the post.
At the end of the day, protecting the contents of
a feed can be daunting and limiting. Controlling your contents to
ensure appropriate credit and links are included is critical.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts.
In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net
a wireless text messaging software company.