Profiting Unfairly From Others

Still catching up, but thankfully, I wrote on this topic ~7 months ago, so I can just continue my thoughts…

Ian Kennedy indirectly brought me into the conversation that Richard McManus (re)started around inappropriate use of content published in RSS format.

I last wrote about this w.r.t. Robert Scoble’s plans to publish the full-text of posts he liked to his link blog (and his intent to stop reading anyone who wouldn’t allow him to do so), concluding:

“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.”

Various people, confused about what RSS is (hint: it’s just a file format, it doesn’t have anything to do with copyright/fair-use law) commented on the post, as did Dick Costolo of Feedburner (who noted his service’s ability to splice in machine-readable Creative Commons codes).

But while I see value in continuing to push for an automated means of encapsulating permissions for blogs, podcasts, etc, I’m not so naive as to know that such a solution will only keep the honest at bay. Those intent on stealing will ignore such devices and rationalize their behavior. Most interestingly then, from a social perspective, is what happens with piracy as more and more of us create and publish our own content; will those who complain about their content being used unlawfully rally behind the efforts (if not the specific tactics) of folks like the RIAA… or will they be hypocrites, protecting their content while stealing that of others? Interesting times, indeed…

Update: Welcome to the club, Niall.

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