Top Ten Sources and RSS®

The concern over the copyright a website/blog owner has in the RSS feed she publishes isn’t new, but the debate lately has focused on one particular RSS aggregator, called Top Ten Sources. Top Ten Sources is an editor-selected list of ten feeds on a particular topic. When the editor revises the list, he sends an email to the site author giving her an opportunity to opt out of being included. The debate is over whether Top Ten Sources commits copyright infringement by making an arguably commercial use of the author’s entire feed.

Some good resources on the debate:

  • John Palfrey
  • Adam Green
  • Dave Winer
  • Denise Howell
  • Personally, this site’s feed is published under a noncommercial, attribution, share alike Creative Commons license. That means that anyone can take what I write and use it for their own purposes, provided only that they give attribution to me, that the use is noncommercial, and that any resulting text is distributed under the same Creative Commons license. That license will keep commercial sites from using my material, but it still allows my readership to comment and continue to debate these topics on their own without being unduly restrictive.

    RSS is syndication at its purest form, failing to tell people what terms under which you will allow people to use your syndicated content is a mistake, in my opinion.

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