Martin Schwimmer Is Right

It is kind of weird to see all sorts of blogs commenting on Martin Schwimmer’s anti-Bloglines rant while apparently purposely ignoring the salient point and the (potential) problem with Bloglines (emphasis added),

It was brought to my attention that a website named Bloglines was reproducing the Trademark Blog, surrounding it with its own frame, stripping the page of my contact info. It identifies itself as a news aggregator. It is not authorized to reproduce my content nor to change the appearance of my pages, which it does. In response to my inquiry to Blogline’s CEO as to whether they sell advertising, he indicated that they ‘are not currently running advertising.’ Nevertheless, the Blogline’s home page currently is soliciting ‘targeted advertisements.’ I would also assume that Blogline is accumulating commercially-useful mailing lists (its privacy policy appears to allow it to sell information). The privacy policy also has a provision entitled ‘mergers and acquisitions’ clearly allowing it to sell its lists.

The advertising issue gets to the heart of the matter — just how much altering of an RSS feed is an aggregator legally permitted to engage in? In an RSS feed like Schwimmer’s, which is licensed under a non-commercial Creative Commons license?

I would not want anyone taking my RSS feed(s) and inserting their own ads, or republishing a full article feed with their ads inserted, anymore than I appreciate the idiots at About.Com framing my content with their ads. If Bloglines is planning to insert ads in my RSS feed, I would definitely ask them to remove my feed from their service.

Finally, Russell Beattie is being a jerk as usual in this matter, but raises an important point — the folks at Creative Commons (which Schwimmer uses to license his RSS feed) needs to clarify exactly what is meant by non-commercial.

I have always interpreted non-commercial to mean that including advertising on such content was not permitted. Beattie disagrees, saying that this leads to a number of absurdities. Creative Commons needs to resolve this one way or the other.

Leave a Reply