There is a lot of untapped potential around the intelligent use of RSS syndicated content, and I have extensively pointed out some of the possible directions this may take us to.
Photo credit: Robin Good
It is important to acknowledge though the issue of free content re-use when many of the content originators want to enforce tight controls on the use and re-syndication of their news.
I have recently catalyzed some attention around the issue of content re-use by engaging relatively small traditional publisher who uses the Internet for syndicating press-releases from major outlets, into evaluating whether my RSSification of his content headlines and further public distribution was legal, appropriate and beneficial.
Unfortunately, John Rourke of ConferencingNews.com has not followed up on his commitment to publicly reply to my points and while he has promised this in a private email to me, he has not followed up with facts.
Point is: sooner or later more independent publishers are going to be threatened, sued and harassed by larger and more powerful companies, either because they have syndicated headlines, or have republished within their content news excerpts or passages from copyrighted articles.
This will be a tough battle to fight, not only because there are so many ethical, cultural and political issues involved. But also because this comes down to be also a technical problem, because as it is easy for traditional content originators to track down in real-time where their RSS content has been re-published, it is equally difficult for both the independent editors/syndicators or for the digital information librarian to find out rapidly whether certain RSS-based content can be re-used or not.
Yes, this is the same problem that has led to the birth of the Creative Commons and similar initiatives.
Unless we can clearly label content that CAN be re-used from copyrighted one, we are going to restrain much of the potential evolution of this tremendously valuable application of content syndication and re-use via RSS.
It is in this light that I am making a public request for pulling together sensible sponsors (RSS related companies and organizations that want to defend and facilitate increased use of the commons) to create a CC/PD directory of explicitly re-usable RSS news feeds.
As the author and maintainer of the RSS Top55, the fastest growing reference directory for submitting RSS news feeds to English-language based RSS search engines and RSS feed directories, I am best positioned to immediately start offering this opportunity to the several tens of thousands of readers who regularly visit this resource.
What I am asking right now is an indication of your support and interest for this initiative.
Here, in the simplest terms possible, an executive summary of what this idea would consist of:
a) Creation of an open access directory of RSS/Atom newsfeeds that carry an explicit Creative Commons or PD (public domain) license.
b) Ability for end users to classify/categorize RSS feeds according to their own taxonomies, just like delicious or the emerging Internet Archive/OurMedia do.
c) Ability for submitters of RSS news feeds to specify the type of license adopted, the amount and type of syndication/re-use allowed, the type of attribution/credit/linkback required and any other specification that would allow newsmasters to make best legal use of such content.
d) Optional facility for users to select keyword-based content, specific news sources or a mix of the two to generate on the spot re-usable news feeds for immediate use.
Are you for it?
If yes, why?
Can you spell out your reasons and put them here below?
If not, why?
This post is being sent as an email copy for notification to:
- Joi Ito
- Lawrence Lessig
- Dave Winer
- David Weinberger
- Chris Pirillo
- Robert Scoble
- Stephen Downes
- Marc Canter
- Cory Doctorow
- Sebastien Paquet
- Flemming Funch
- Andrius Kulikauskas
- Dan Gillmor
- JD Lasica
- Dave Pollard
- Jean-Francois Noubel
If you want to help this initiative, please post a comment here, write a post on your blog about it, and consider adopting a CC/PD license for at least some of your RSS content now.