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malevolent design weblog

RSS Republishing Row

Last week Scoble’s Link Blog pointed this way, and after noticing the full content of my weblog entry was republished I had a feeling the recent RSS copyright debate was going to move on to link blogs. Sure enough, Scoble’s now at the centre of a discussion about republishing the full content of posts (also followed-up by Cristian Vidmar and Tim Marman).

You should accept a certain amount of loss of control over your content when you publish a feed, and I’m not fussed about most link blogs, but at the same time republishing does add ‘noise’ to search engines (which may obscure the original source) and abuse is rife. Perhaps responsible link blogs could opt out of search engines, but that’d deny the original author a PageRank boost. What about sites that put ads amongst others’ content, or use it to help with search engine spamming? It’s all one big blurry grey area.

In the end I updated my copyright page to allow republishing of full content by non-commercial sites, and added the <copyright> tag to feeds to point to it. It makes no practical difference, and all the definitions involved are extremely fuzzy (not helped by my poor wording), but at the moment I’m not happy for my content to be used by some of the spammy news sites out there so I might as well state that preference.

(I’d opt for this Creative Commons licence, except that it’d surely exclude online aggregator tools?)

(update: Robert Scoble’s given up his link blog, partly due to the controversy)


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