Scoble is planning to steal my content!

(Robert, don’t rush for the unsubscribe button bud.)

Well, there have certainly been some interesting developments over the past week while I was busy gorging on turkey and other tasty treats down in San Diego.

One of the more interesting developments was Scoble’s announcement that he intends to add the full text of posts he likes to his link blog.

What’s more interesting is that he’s doing this with an ultimatum; essentially, if you don’t like it, he won’t read you any more (which also means he won’t link to you). In short, you can read this as “give me your content or lose access to my distribution,” which essentially makes this the same game that the Search Engine Cos are playing with Big Media (though the search engines are generally careful not to present the full text of a page other than via their ‘cache’ link).

Now let’s be clear. Compared to Google, Scoble represents a token amount of traffic to my site. While my Scobleometer Reading indicates that I say something he finds interesting once every 10 days or so (and I’m generally surprised by what he links to), I’ve never been quoted on his home page nor had a blog-to-blog conversation/debate as he often does with Dave Winer.

But the real issue here (yes yes, there is a point) is that because Scoble reads me via a Feed, he probably doesn’t realize that there’s a copyright statement at the bottom of every page on my site (i.e., every blog post). He doesn’t realize it because a) he’s probably visited my site exactly once to subscribe to my blog, and b) because my Feed doesn’t codify the permissions for use of my content.

Now let’s be clear. One of the overriding assumptions of blogging is that you want others to read and comment on your posts; I’m hardly about to sue Robert or Microsoft over this (although the latter is interesting, albeit likely futile, from a deep pockets perspective…). But I do have reasonable expectations over how he and others might use my content commercially, and certainly want attribution for my efforts.

And so, my request of Scoble, Winer, Anker, Lessig and the other blog-powers-that-be is this: let’s get this right in the next iteration of RSS, Atom et al. Let’s have a way for people to explicitly indicate codified licensing/permissions in their Feeds, for both their posts and for any enclosures. This is key to efforts like JD Lassica & Marc Canter’s project, and will likely only increase in importance as more and more “professional” use of blogs occurs.

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5 comments on “Scoble is planning to steal my content!
  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you make money from your blog?
    One of the key ideas of the web is putting comment out for people to look at.
    Your blog is on blogger. Scoble typically quotes with full attribution.
    It is a QUOTE BLOG. I.E. A compilation.
    The only thing that is done is compiling the links and posts on to one page.
    Theft (i.e. plagiarism) would occur if a person used your content without proper citation.
    I have never seen an instance of Scoble doing that.
    Scott Adams

  2. I made this comment on Scoble’s blog and I’ll make it hear: He’s hardly stealing your content if you provide it in a format that’s designed for distribution and re-use. You’re using RSS, sometimes referred to as Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, in a fashion that meets neither of those definitions. You’re not providing a summary by including full text feeds, and you’re not syndicating by demanding that people not redistribute the content.

    Now, if your goal is have people read your content and comment on it, how does 3rd party distribution with attribution prevent that? It my eyes, it only promotes it.

    Finally, if you were that concerned, why provide a full text feed at all? A summary would be more likely to drive users to your site (since they’d have to do that to read the article) and actually provide comment.

  3. Tony Gentile says:

    Jonathan, appreciate the feedback.

    Not sure I agree with your basic premise though (which is why I’m pushing on this topic); just because my content is “in a format that’s designed for distribution and re-use” doesn’t mean that I’ve given up any of my ownership of it!

    Newspapers, magazines, etc, are all published in a format for distribution (print) and re-use (in the industry, it’s often called “pass alongs”). But if you asked a media co, they’d tell you that whether that content was in print or online, they still owned the content.

    Fair Use grants you and me (as Bloggers, students, etc) the right to use a reasonable amount of that content, with proper attribution, for certain purposes.

    The point of my post, however, was none of this. It was, basically, that because Robert only reads full-text Feeds, and those Feeds give zero indication of the “content owners” permissions/license, he had to post a public message telling everyone what he intended to do, and request that all of those ~1000 email him to tell him if they wanted him to unsubscribe/not use their content.

    That just doesn’t scale, especially when we start thinking about 10MMs of users at, etc.

    We need a programmatic/codified solution (in my opinion) so that good people (like Scoble) don’t get bitten by doing the “wrong thing”.

    (Check out what’s going on with Sony TV/Kottke. Rediculous!)

  4. I believe the delivery method has a lot to do with the intended end-purpose of the content. For example, often newspapers delivery a copy of the paper to my door at no cost to entice me to purchase. Think of this as your full-text feed that you provide. I reasonably expect to be able to take that newspaper with me to work and share it with a larger audience: my co-workers. Think of this as Scoble redistributing your content to a (I’m assuming) larger audience: his web site.

    I don’t expect that I can take any content from the newspaper and post it on my web site as if I had written it and nor does Scoble post any content on his site as if he had written it.

    All that said, I see your issue more clearly now. It does make sense to be able to include some copyright declaration as part of the feed mechanism. 🙂

  5. Dick Costolo says:

    Tony, you can always use FeedBurner to splice a machine readable creative commons license into your feed. and changing topics completely – Great to meet you the other night!