The Last Podcast Opinionated Web 2.0 News and Commentary


11 April 2008 @ 10pm


Go ahead – ‘steal’ my content

I’m not in control of my content and the discussion around it – and I’m just fine with it.

It seems Louis Gray has kicked off a bit of a discussion about feeds and business created around those feeds today. In many ways, this is really an extension of the ‘comment fragmentation discussion. A lot of bloggers are still worried about the fact that they are neither in control of the discussion around their content anymore, now even often privy to that discussion.

With services like FriendFeed, RSSMeme, Shyftr, Assetbar and others that create communities around RSS feeds, this has become more and more of a contentious issue.

Shyftr seems to especially rub people the wrong way – why, I do not know (Also see this discussion about it on FF). Shyftr is basically nothing more than an RSS reader with comments. A number of bloggers, like Tony Hung and Eric Berlin are taking offense with this because they did not give Shyftr explicit consent to use their feeds.

To be honest, this is a complete non-issue for me. I know that I am not control of my content or the discussion around it anymore once I publish an RSS feed – and especially a full RSS feed.

Here is what Tony (who I respect greatly, btw.) says about this:

I think there is a moral and ethical obligation to obtain content from the content owners about reproducing feeds in their entirety, particularly if its going to be used as part of public service which a) has or will generate profits from a service which is based on those feeds and therefore is a b) service which cannot exist without reproducing (i.e. “copying”) those feeds.

The way I see this is that by publishing my feed, I give you consent to use it in services like RSS readers, aggregators, memetrackers etc. Using the same reasoning we can accuse Gabe Rivera for building a business on top of our writing with Techmeme – it’s profitable and it couldn’t exist without using our feeds. Neither could Google Reader, RSSMeme, FriendFeed, LinkRiver or any other service based on feeds.

These services are explicitly not just simple content scrapers because they a) give me credit for my work (even if that doesn’t need to translate into ‘traffic’ coming to my site) and b) create value around the feeds through allowing commenting, aggregation with other feeds etc.

I think the real problems publishers have here is the fact that they are realizing that they are not in control – but I would say that they never were in control – the new breed of social media web apps just highlights this.

So to me, this is a total non-issue. But then, it’s Friday and we didn’t have a good bitchmeme last weekend…