Schwimmer makes some good points in his clarification to his decision to ask Bloglines to remove his feed. A few points in particular warrant further discussion.
Creating the free content for advertisements that Bloglines will sell to other trademark law firms. This isn’t baseless conjecture - read this discusssion of Bloglines’ plans for advertising keyed to the content of blogs. At least with Google’s contextual ad program, the blog creator gets some money.
The question I have is how is this different than if say FeedDemon or Newsgator decided to release a free version of their aggregator that included targeted ads. Tyme White claims…
there is a big difference between Bloglines search/preview feature where anyone can view a blogs content and someone adding the feed for private viewing. The argument of desktop readers having ads is completely different - that would be for private viewing only by the user and the ad would NOT be on the feed, it would in the software.
Seems to me it’s only a difference in mechanics. Most aggregators contain search features as well. Wouldn’t be hard for them to include targeted ads. Not only that, it’s still making money off your content. Even a desktop aggregation company could print the following ad…
Find out how our sales team can help you reach you reach new customers with targeted advertisements on ACME Aggregator. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In my view, there’s a big difference in what Bloglines is doing and some website blatantly ripping your content. I can see the problem if Bloglines was a profit motivated legal website and the main content of the site was taken from legal blogs that provide feeds. With Bloglines, the primary usage is for private users to subscribe to feeds. Yes, your content is available via search, but it’s the same as with Google. Likewise, don’t you want people to find your content, regardless?
Tyme goes on to say…
The bottom line, if money is being made off of a feed it could be deemed commercial use and you should receive permission from the author before redistributing unless the content is considered public domain.
Does that mean Google must ask permission to display your site in search results which might contain ads for your competitors (which was recently ruled completely legal).
Suppose you send copyrighted email to a gmail user? Does it infringe on your copyright that Google can target ads to be displayed alongside your email?
I don’t ask these questions to be contrarian, but to really understand the issue. As I see it, yes martin is right. He does have the right to control his content. But true wisdom is knowing when one should excercise a right. As Scoble points out,
…(by the way, how come you guys aren’t yelling about Google’s caching? Did you see that all your pages are cached over on Google? That breaks with traditional copyright law too, but so far we’ve been cool with that too. Why? It helps everyone.
My advice to Martin is that yeah, you’re right. You have a copyright over your content, but think about the big picture. You’ve definitely got yourself noticed. Now let Bloglines use your content for fun and profit, become a blogging hero, and watch your own clientele list and profit grow as a result. Everyone can win in this situation. Don’t try to force a new technology to fit within the confines of an outdated copyright system that’s winded and unable to keep up.
Probably the best thing to come out of all this is a discussion of copyright as it pertains to an entirely new medium. Let’s hope the right decisions are made that reflect the cooperative nature of RSS.