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Making Content More Valuable or Stealing Revenue? 78

TechDirt has an interesting look at the short history of complaints over meta content delivery and traffic generation. Looking at everything from complaints over Google's Print program to RSS companies delivering ads on someone else's content the article begs the question, where should the line be drawn? One of the examples, Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc., even chimed in as one of the first few comments.
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Making Content More Valuable or Stealing Revenue?

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  • by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @02:36AM (#16556606) Homepage Journal
    Let's get to the root here. If this works, I'm going to sue Mozilla - maker of Firefox - because their program presents my blog to people. Ahh..no I'm going to sue Microsoft for making IE which does the same thing. And they have more money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GradiusCVK ( 1017360 )
      As easy as it is to jump on the fair use bandwagon, taking that stance is an uphill battle... if it weren't, this matter would have been settled once and for all long ago. The fact of the matter is, these companies really are making money as a direct result of other people's work, even if they are "adding value" in some way... and are doing so without direct compensation. Whether increased traffic counts as compensation is a fuzzy matter at best. It would be MUCH more effective for the really popular news
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AdamKG ( 1004604 )
        What? Why should content aggregators (or anyone) have to take proactive steps to avoid stepping on people's toes when they put it online in syndicated RSS feeds, which have the effective purpose of being aggregated?

        If they were really so upset over having their content show up in other places on the interwebs, my question is, why don't the content producers remove the offending material? After all, that would be the most immediate and effective action if you don't want people 'stealing' your revenue.

        The
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by GradiusCVK ( 1017360 )

          Why should content aggregators (or anyone) have to take proactive steps to avoid stepping on people's toes when they put it online in syndicated RSS feeds, which have the effective purpose of being aggregated?

          This is the exact type of argument that I believe cannot win without an unnecessarily long legal battle. Consider an analogy; record companies sell licenses to radio stations allowing them to distribute music... radio stations provide the music over the air for all to hear for free in some aggregate

          • That's a good analogy but it doesn't really sum up what feed aggregators do. What Google News does is more akin to producing a TV guide of what's playing now and what's popular. People use a TV guide in the same way that they use Google News to find out what's on.

            I know some networks charge for TV guide information and TV guides make money from advertising (and even subscriptions). In a radio sense it would be like having a station that lists what song other stations are playing to help you find the one t

          • by JasonKChapman ( 842766 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @06:58AM (#16557552) Homepage
            This is the exact type of argument that I believe cannot win without an unnecessarily long legal battle. Consider an analogy; record companies sell licenses to radio stations allowing them to distribute music... radio stations provide the music over the air for all to hear for free in some aggregated block of music programming time (really simple syndication), and they make money through ads. The record companies are happy with this because the radio stations both pay for the right to play the music, and drive spending by promoting the music... it's win-win, with a doubleplusbig win for the record company which effectively gets paid twice.

            This analogy falls apart sooner than you state, though. The RSS feed is already stripped down to content only. If the radio station were somehow putting out a separate stream of nothing but the music, without chatter or ads, that would be equivalent to an RSS feed.

            RSS feeds don't currently match existing models. In the publishing model, to get reprint rights for a print article, you go to the rights holder and pay for a license. There's a gate-keeping function in place at which the rights holder can collect revenue.

            In the broadcast model, the ads and source ID are inserted directly into the stream. The equivalent of a republisher in this model would be a restaurant or retail store that replays that stream in their establishment. Technically, they're supposed to pay a license fee to do so, such as when a sports bar shows events. There's no gate-keeping function, but then again, the ads are inserted into the stream.

            If content producers want to match those models, they'll have to match the mechanism of those models. They can either insert text-based, editorial-style ads directly into the stream (similar to "sponsored results" in search engine results), or they can use a feed mechanism that includes authentication to provide some kind of gate-keeping function at which revenue can be collected for subscriptions.

            Outside of those solutions, forget it. The Internet will continue to do what the Internet does. If you put a free, unrestricted feed of your content out there, it's going to be out there. If you want the traffic to come to your site, limit your feed to "teaser" portions of the articles including a linkback to the original. Otherwise, just accept it. "You can't stop the signal, Mal."

          • by MacDork ( 560499 )

            However, what if some third-party radio station starts recording the music that other stations are playing, organizing it, then playing it over the air without the original radio station's ads, but with it's own ads.

            Your analogy makes no sense at all. No one would ever do it. Why not compare the use of RSS to something like a TIVO. It gathers content from different stations, allows you to remove ads from the original content, and could be used to deliver ads itself to make the producers of the TIVO mo

      • It would be MUCH more effective for the really popular news aggregators and so forth to whole heartedly comply with those content-producers that are upset about this.... simply remove the offending material.

        I don't work that much with meta data, but can't you add a robot.txt file to keep those aggragators from gathering your content?

        The precedent is touchy at best if we lay the responsibility on those organizing the information. If they have to check with every source they gather information from, we are

    • I've never really understood this issue. Sounds to me like it is a simple greed issue. First, The RSS feeds are a tool to promote your content. Search engines and aggrigators use that to produce customized lists of links to content someone may be interested in. ( Promoting the content of the RSS feeder )
      I wonder how the law suits would shake out if let say Google REFUSED to index someones content or RSS feed.

      People complain that the aggrigator is making money of their content. I would argue that th
    • by Jotii ( 932365 )
      IE which does the same thing.
      IE can't present my blog.
  • BY-NC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @02:41AM (#16556628) Homepage Journal
    How do you define ... non-commercial use in this context?

    This is the question I've always had with creative commons: just what counts as non-commercial? If I take a BY-NC image off flickr [flickr.com], and want to use it in my blog [wellingtongrey.net], is that OK? What if I have google ads on my blog? Is that still OK? Does it make any difference if I'm actually making a profit or not? I've gone so far as to email some of the CC lawyers about this issue, and there seems to be no clear answer.

    -Grey
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 )
      Non-commercial depends on how much money you have, how big the business is that provided the content under the license, and whether or not they're bored.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )
      I've gone so far as to email some of the CC lawyers about this issue, and there seems to be no clear answer.

      The cynic in me says they provided no clear answers to you on purpose. If they laid out some clear guidelines that would keep you out of trouble, you would follow them and never need their services. They are much more interested in telling you what to do when it's too late and they're tracking billable hours on your dime.
    • It's a vague concept, probably delibertely so, like Fair Use.

      Is it commercial to look at something and then use that as the basis of a business decision? Possibly, but who's going to sue? The creator probably isn't going to find out, if they do, they probably won't care too much, if they do, they probably won't sue, and if they do, they'll probably not win a vast payout. It's a low risk violation. If I take the content, and sell it, then it's clear and obvious violation of the terms. The creator co
    • by nath_de ( 535933 )
      That's the reason why one shouldn't use the NC licenses. Use SA instead - it is clearer defined and better anyway.
    • by vita ( 62852 )
      The answer is, it's only a problem if somebody figures you have some money and it's worth going after you. That's why media companies have to be so very careful about everything they do that they stifle themselves and pay huge sums for insurance, while bloggers can copy and paste with abandon, and nobody cares. Look poor, and you're safe.


          Unless you're the one person in a million selected by the RIAA, of course.

  • I was talking about [slashdot.org] how the networking modell kills the current copyright model.

    Partly this is what I ment. Wouldn't it be so much easier if we just didn't have to put up with all this copyright mess (because frankly, most of these services are good things to exist)?

    Content == Information. Someone else's information? That is only a valid phrase if noone else has that information. AKA, content creators should be only compensated for that and not given distribution rights afterwards.
    • ``Content == Information. Someone else's information? That is only a valid phrase if noone else has that information. AKA, content creators should be only compensated for that and not given distribution rights afterwards.''

      I wonder if they should even be compensated at all. Of course, the theory behind copyright is that we want more content, and therefore, we offer a financial incentive to produce it.

      However, I can tell you that most of the content I produce, as well as most of the content I use, are produc
      • However, I can tell you that most of the content I produce, as well as most of the content I use, are produced _without_ the financial incentive of copyright (Slashdot posts, open source software, Wikipedia articles, etc.)

        Take into consideration, though, the cost of production (money and time) of that particular content, as well as the quality of said produced content.

      • I wonder if they should even be compensated at all. Of course, the theory behind copyright is that we want more content, and therefore, we offer a financial incentive to produce it.

        However, I can tell you that most of the content I produce, as well as most of the content I use, are produced _without_ the financial incentive of copyright (Slashdot posts, open source software, Wikipedia articles, etc.)

        Copyright doesn't offer a financial incentive, it offers control over distribution. Of course, many

  • by Anonymous Coward
    begs for trouble.
    • by rm999 ( 775449 )
      How about - first person to say something gets shot. I think we can all agree on that.
  • It's my browser - I'll decide. I'll decide if I want to block ads, look at RSS feeds, remix data from multiple sites into one Firefox tab etc. That's one of the things content providers have to deal with - that once the content is out there, it's usable by anyone in any way. It's not like they can do anything about it.

    • Sounds like you're daring someone to come up with a DRM system for text content - oh good :(

      Reminds me of some of the annoying PDF API documents i have to work with, where some bright spark has decided to protect there copyright by disabling copy and paste (yes, this can be done in Acrobat Reader). It's extremely annoying when you just want to copy and paste a long function prototype into your code.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ajs318 ( 655362 )
        Then download and build xPDF (or kPDF or gPDF). There's a patch you can apply which disables the disabling of copying and pasting.
    • ``once the content is out there, it's usable by anyone in any way. It's not like they can do anything about it.''

      Well, some uses are prohibited by law (often copyright law). So they could sue you and win.
  • Weblogs' Logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giafly ( 926567 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:07AM (#16556712)
    If we allow folks to sell advertising against our FULL content then we will lose 90% of our revenue. People will republish Engadget and Autoblog, call it an RSS reader, and sell ads against it - Jason Calacanis of Weblogs via Techdirt [techdirt.com]
    No, no, no! The downside is that you lose part of your potential revenue, not your actual revenue. The upside is that more people learn about you and you therefore get more visitors and more revenue. One of the issues is where this balance lies.
    • by shri ( 17709 )
      I'd like to see how any of the pro-bloggers react if other websites stopped linking to and / or republishing their stories (in full, or edited or editorially revised).

      Bloggers (oops sorry .. online publishers) have to stop behaving like dead tree media and hoarding their content.

      I'm all for full exposure, specially now that the search engines have become semi clever in figuring out who the original author is and ensuring that when someone searches for a relevant term the original article shows up (often tha
    • If Mr. Calacanis is complaining that he publishes entire articles in his RSS feed, and then complains about where and how people read his RSS feed, he's a moron.
    • This assumes an unlimited number of untapped potential customers. If engadget is reaching 100% of its potential market, and someone else releases a slick new interface which redirects 90% of its traffic, then it only loses. There is no up side for engadget.
  • by Xanni ( 29201 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:12AM (#16556736) Homepage
    Maybe a slash coder could add something to red-flag Slashdot editors when the phrase "begs the question" appears in a summary?

    http://begthequestion.info/ [begthequestion.info]
  • How many times are we going to improperly use the phrase "begs the question?" Every time it happens, around 25% of whatever thread it was gets taken up by posts discussing its proper use. You think people on Slashdot would take this opportunity to learn something about proper usage.

    It shows just how little of the forum discussions people submitting these stories read, either that or they're just doing it as a joke now.

    Or, they could just be really fucking dumb.

    It's almost as if the people submitting the s
  • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @04:12AM (#16556898)
    A lot of money has been invested in creating messages to be disseminated across the 'Net. Additional money has bee invested in making these messages attractive, and in enhancing the reputation of the creators and authors. Now some sleazeball desseminates the message at a lower tier, and packs it with adds, thus diminishing the value of the original investment on one hand, and possibly marginally increasing the value on the other. I can see the points on both sides. Unfortunately, once the vehicle has left the showroom it gets scratches.

    Hmmm... Suppose Bob takes a great picture of a pretty girl in a bikini and uses it to promote his photography. Suppose a notorious porn site uses only the headshot portion and even provides a link back to Bob's site.

    On the other hand, suppose a site that is a directory for photographers uses Bob's picture to provide a link to his photography site.

    Somehow I would think it's appropriate for Bob to be able to get the picture removed from the site that makes him look like a pornographer, but that means he also has the right to get it removed from the directory if he wishes.

    Bob should have the right to control his picture, but unfortunately, it has left the showroom.

    Keep in mind, we have a different situation if one or the other downstream sites has purchased the right to use the picture as they see fit.

    Hmmm. If I purchase a print of Bob's picture, do I have the right to cut it up, paint over it and make derivative art? (Maybe, it depends on my written agreement with Bob.) I certainly have the right to take a picture of it and keep it in my insurance records to record my household goods. Do I have a right to make copies and give it to my friends, even if some of them actually go out and buy signed print later on? (That would be enhancing the value, wouldn't it?) If I don't charge for it, it's not a commercial venture, right?

    Sorry, folks, but I think the author should retain the rights.
    • Sorry, folks, but I think the author should retain the rights.

      That's really what it comes down to here, IMO. Just because it's on the 'net doesn't mean you can do what-the-hell-you-like with it. As always, fair use is still fair use, and republishing is still republishing - blogger with ads, RSS, or whatever.
    • by pereric ( 528017 )
      There is a juridical difference (at least in Sweden, and many other places in Europe) between moral (artistic) and economical rights. If someone is using your picture in the above context, you could easily claim that your moral rights are being violated. You dont need to have the same set of restrictions for the economical "monopoly" and the moral rights, because they serve different needs. Actually, according to law you can't even transfer (sell) your artistic rights to someone else. /Per Eric
    • I think the author should retain the rights.

      I agree. And I also believe that those rights should never extend beyond 27 years or the death of the author. I also believe that no corporate entity should hold or maintain exclusive right to any copyrighted work.

      You can easily guess how popular those feelings are in the current US congress (and many other governments in the world, for that matter).
  • "Where the line is drawn" is thinking like a kid would.

    There's no line: there are business models, with different objectives and different strategies. There's different perceptions, and different fears.

    Ultimately, if there IS a line, it's different for every single person/company and will change for every product in time due to a number of factors, even someone's current mood.

    There's no point guessing, no one is THAT smart. Just let things balance our and wherever it goes, it goes.

    The more productive thinki
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Stop abusing this phrase. It just makes you sound illiterate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question [wikipedia.org]
  • by Digital Vomit ( 891734 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @07:23AM (#16557828) Homepage Journal

    It's obviously stealing revenue. I mean, I've got over $200,000,000.00 in a box at home that I've saved (I mean, stolen) because of piracy. All those media cartels are right: pirates have collectively stolen trillions of dollars from them over the past few decades. Check under your beds; you'll probably find a big box of money like I did.

    I think it works like this:

    • For every mp3 you download, $2 appears under your bed.
    • For every movie you download, $20 appears under your bed.
    • For every half-hour of television you download, $5 appears under your bed.
    • For every game you download, $50 appears under your bed.
    • For every book you download, $10 appears under your bed (upwards of $100 or more if it's a textbook or reference book).
    • For every video clip of a movie or TV show you see online, $0.25 appears under your bed.

    Try it (not that I am advocating stealing, mind you). It's amazing! And all this money is coming straight out of the bank accounts of various media cartels. I think it has something to do with that "voodoo economics" I heard about a few years back.

    I don't know why it doesn't work when you steal shows or movies over the TV, or music over the radio. Maybe because it's older technology and the media cartels put anti-theft technology in it, and with computers they have yet to do so because that's newer technology.

    Oh, crap. I just thought of something. I just posted this on Slashdot! Now thousands of people will be stealing it from me! That's what I get for posting my two cents worth of intellectual property. :(

    • <em>?That's what I get for posting my two cents worth of intellectual property. :(</em>

      Don't worry, for each person who steals your ideas, they will only get 2 cents. Not worth the time unless someone creates a botnet to steal your idea enmass to spam it:

      ----
      To: luser@slashdot.org
      From: bettysue@comcast.net

      Lo0king f0r a w ay to mak e more mone y?

      Triy pirat ing! Make upt o $60,00 a yea r! Vis it n0w for you're m ore inf0!

      http://it.goecities.com/somelamer666

      The yellow dog was found to be absurd.
  • by KutuluWare ( 791333 ) <kutulu.kutulu@org> on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @09:10AM (#16559230) Homepage
    For the love of god, STOP ABUSING THIS TERM. I don't think I've once seen it used properly in my 4 years of reading /., and I doubt I missed much before that. Begging the question is a logical fallacy that invalidates the subsequent argument. This article raises a perfectly legitimate question that follows naturally from the preceding information.

    Or, to put in in more /.-friendly terms: "Begs the question. You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means."
    • "Begs the question. You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means."

      Look, language changes over time. "Begs the question" now means "Leads one naturally to ask the question". "Moot" means "NOT worthy of discussion or debate". "Inflammable" means "flammable". Accept it.
      • R u saiing dat dis 's also a natral evolusion o englsih?
      • by AlecC ( 512609 )
        Not this (right) side of the atlantic, it doesn't. "Begging the question" is, and always has been, a precise term for a particular logical error. You are attempting to foorce a change in the language to match your own particular taste; I and others will fight back with what is not only historicalusage but our everyday usage. (Likewise with your usage of moot. Inflammable has never meant non-flammable; it means capable of being inflamed, rendered into flames. The in- prefix has two sources, one meaning not
  • Google should take them literally. Since Google makes money by selling ads on searches, Google sshould interpret their request as one to remove all their material from all their sites. This would opt them out ofg the worlds top search engine - at their own request. I wonder whether they would like becoming invisible to half the users on the Net.
  • More techdirt (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Jack9 ( 11421 )
    I cant believe another flamebait article from the shitpile, Techdirt, is supposed to be news. There should be a Katz AND Techdirt filter.

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