Copyright and Web Content – Practical Solutions

My posts about RSS Ripoff Merchants stirred up a lot of controversy and, somewhat surprisingly, it seems I’ve come out of it as The Bad Guy. I kind of feel like Lars Ulrich of Metellica in the Napster case – defender of artists rights 🙂

Anyhow, I wanted my posts to specifically address the issue of software like SuperFeedSystem – which encourages people to take other peoples RSS feeds and use them on their own websites for profit. However that issue got lost in the bigger picture and many people wanted to take me to task for the fact I’ve got a copyright on my RSS feed – and my Web content in general.

So… let’s talk about that then. Quite frankly I would love to have a Creative Commons license on both my weblog and my RSS feed. I was looking at Creative Commons again this morning and I’m just about ready to sign up.

But there’s one thing holding me back – I’m not sure that the CC licences will protect me from SuperFeedSystem and its kind. Say I use the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 license, which is (according to the Creative Commons website) “the most restrictive of our six main licenses, allowing redistribution”. Will that license prevent someone using SuperFeedSystem to copy my entire RSS feed onto their own website? Let’s go through it:

1. “Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.”

– if they attribute me and link to my site, OK they’re fine.

2. “Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.”

– this is probably the crux of the issue, for me anyway. If they run ads around my content, then they’re probably contravening my CC license – correct? But what if they don’t run any ads around my content, but are just using my content to gain Google juice – is *that* contravening my CC licence? What if they are just using my content in order to have a “site that has what [customers] want and looks believable” (a quote from SuperFeedSystem’s homepage) – is that counted as non-commercial?

3. “No Derivative Works. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.”

– OK that’s pretty clearcut (and believe it or not, I’d like to eventually open up my work to derivatives).

In summary: I want to go Creative Commons – so help me out please. Do you think the above license protects me from SuperFeedSystem and its kind? Whether or not you agree with my point of view on SuperFeedSystem is irrelevant – in *this* post 😉 The fact of the matter is I don’t want someone re-using the bulk of my content on their own website for commercial means. Is a CC license the answer for me and others like me (and surely I’m not alone in this)?

So here’s where I invite you all to pile in and kick the shit out of me, I guess. But can I request one thing: please give me *practical* solutions and don’t get carried away with philosophy 😉 Also I’d appreciate it if you assume that I’m not talking about aggregators and search engines (because I’m not) – just humour me on that one, OK? 🙂

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