Permanent link to archive for 4/19/05. Tuesday, April 19, 2005

How to allow subscription but not syndication?

From Nikolas 'Atrus' Coukouma via email:

"Hi, I've recently been in a major battle over the inclusion of RSS feeds in websites. This is not ordinarily a problem, but the site in question (LiveJournal) has millions of users with different interests and only one codebase. The problem is that most users don't object to syndication and aggregation, but some do object to syndication.

"After much discussion, we've settled on (offering the option of) syndicating only headlines for these users. This seems unsatisfactory because they don't mind people reading the content in their personal aggregators, but they do mind it being reproduced on other websites and web-based aggregation services. A better solution would be to offer a "no syndication" element of some sort. My personal idea is to add an (optional, one or more may be present) "pragma" tag to handle cases like this, similar to HTML meta tags and HTTP pragma headers.

"It might also be sensible to link to a license for articles, on a per-channel or per-item basis.

"There seem to be some very serious issues about what can and can not be done with an RSS feed. I'm hoping you'll think about them and possibly comment on the subject."

My comments:

That question comes up all the time, I fully understand the concern, and to some extent, share it. I've pretty much looked the other way when others republish my writing under their advertising, and in some cases in their name.

Anyway, it gets tricky with centralized aggregators like Bloglines or My Yahoo. What's the difference between their publishing my content (and putting ads on it) and another site doing the same? It's hard to find the line of distinction.

And of couse this gives me another chance to say that the EFF's black-and-white view that content is evil and technology is cool falls apart somewhere in here. What happens to freedom to speak when anyone can do anything with your writing? It's not just the media industry that has these concerns, so do us amateurs.

Anyway, it seems likely we'll have an interesting discussion here. That, of course, is why I posted this. ;->

# Posted by Dave Winer on 4/19/05; 9:17:33 AM - --

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