Sun, Dec. 12, 2010

Republished Feeds: Copyright Issue

CK - Washington.   RSS and Atom feeds have always raised copyright concerns. Many business models rest on the assumption that feeds may be republished. Some services offer the integration of feeds into other sites; others track, make searcheable or archive feeds for own or third-party use.

A concern of feed republication for authors is the use of republished full-lengh feeds on spam, fraud, domain parking, pornographic and others sites deemed of questionable value. The republication does not only water down the search ranking of the original but may inaccurately associate the author with the third-party site.

A Hamburg trial court has now confirmed that the third-party use of feeds can violate the author's copyright, docket number 36A C 375/09, judgment of September 27, 2010. A republisher can be held accountable for damages and costs unless the author has licensed the material to the republisher or applied one of the available open-source licenses to the feed.

Feeds of reports discussing the decision are available on many German feed-republishing sites, including spammy ones, as a search with RSS Feeds 36A C 375/09 demonstrates. The decision clearly constitutes a double-edged sword for authors and republishers alike.

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