But wait, there's more...

  last edited: Wed, 31 Oct 2007 12:32:46 +1100  from Diary and Other Rantings
Seems I got locked out of the forum that was accusing me of all manner of illegal behavior for the way my websites (used to) use newsfeeds. I merely asked what I was doing that they felt was wrong, and how I might rectify it.  

If you've arrived here trying to find out what all the fuss is about, sorry, but I'm no longer able to respond directly to the accusations made.

But there's more. I'm going to use your esteemed Google Reader as an example, since this was used as a shining example of how to publish/republish newsfeeds in a non-infringing manner.

It was claimed that many sites can get away with publishing newsfeeds because they only contain snippets, and not a complete copy of the original copyrighted work. Further that they do not republish this information to third parties.

It just ain't so. I went to Google Reader and plugged in a feed URL for one of my web properties. Up came my newsfeed. Now lets take a look... hmmm. I don't see snippets of my articles. I see the complete articles. The whole tomato.

But wait, there's more. The argument is that Google just creates this list on the fly, so isn't storing and republishing protected work.  

Then how come I see a full copy of every article I've ever written since Google Reader came into existence? Everything. Tell me, I'd like to know. I'll tell you. It's because somebody else subscribed to my feed, and Google made a copy of every article that has ever been read on my site, and is republishing it to anybody who accesses that feed URL. My feed only contains 20 recent items. But everything is there, even articles which have been deleted from my website.

The only way this could happen is if they make a (complete) copy of every article, and republish it on their website. No different than anything which I did, and in fact they publish a whole lot more than I ever did for a given feed. I only provided a snapshot of the current feed, and the ability to import one or two articles a day from a few select feeds.

So Google Reader has the ability, and is actively creating copies of every weblog for which it is provided a feed - providing an alternate to ever visiting the source website, and without regard to copyright issues; and republishing this to the world. Exactly what I was accused of doing.  

Google as you may or may not know is pretty much exempt from copyright restrictions under the fair use clause. They have argued successfully that they can copy pretty much anything that has ever been written. But I can't - because I'm not Google, and fair use apparently only applies to large U.S. corporations with lots of lawyers.

But since I've been locked out of the dialog, the idiots who have accused me of wrong doing will probably never see this.

As I told folks on that forum before I was locked out, if you really want to protect your writings, don't publish them, and certainly don't syndicate them. And if you don't want your entire site to be cloned, certainly don't syndicate full articles.

It's too late to bring back news on this site. I'm done with it. Heck, I'll just use Google Reader and save some disk space, not have to worry about foul language and XSS injections and all the other mess that comes with importing content from the wild.

It's a bit of an inconvenience to those who had a desire to use this software as it was envisioned, to create personalized websites of personalized content compiled from their favorite sources around the globe. But nobody was really using any of that functionality anyway.  They were just letting me subscribe to interesting feeds and using it to see glimpses of the blogosphere that they wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Oh well. I've got better things to do.
For point of reference, here is the text of the so-called 'fair-use' exclusion, which is commonly used as a defense against infringement of copyrighted material. Note that this applies only to U.S. copyright law. Different countries may or may not have similar exclusions.

107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.  
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.