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Monday, January 17, 2005

Bloglines and RSS Copyright

Martin Schwimmer of The Trademark Blog asked Bloglines to remove his RSS feed from their site (see his original post and follow-up). He says “commercial use and derivative works are prohibited” and thinks Bloglines falls into that category. He also doesn’t like the fact they hide his contact information from the reader.

Speaking for this blog, I choose to only publish an excerpt of my content (the first few hundred characters) to prevent aggregators from fully copying this content. And that’s what happens – some sites grab the full content and automatically pass it on. And I won’t blame them, because it seems RSS is looked upon as the format which can be syndicated in these ways. (I do similar at

I wonder why Martin Schwimmer doesn’t do the same and restrict the content in ways he seems fit (next to fully blocking hundreds of his readers)? If only part of the content is visible, people are led to the original site, where they are able to find the necessary context (which may be a specific design, advertisement, or contact information... and we shouldn’t forget advertisement might be a way for blogmasters to cover their server costs).

Another major reason why I wouldn’t want Bloglines and similar aggregators to fully take my content is they don’t offer good ways to show usage statistics. When I produce content I want to know how and when people access it. Statistics are not the only way to “feel” the presence of an audience (links from other blogs, posts in the forum, or emails are other ways) but it’s one important approach. Many blog authors wouldn’t want to continue writing their blog if they couldn’t “see” their audience.


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