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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Republishing Yahoo News RSS Feed
DMCA violation

 11:01 pm on Jun 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

On my blog, I like to post a new message once a day on my own, but I also have 3 or 4 posts that are automatically added to the site via relavent content from the Yahoo News Feed (RSS Format). Each of these posts is given a a preview of the story, and each has a link to the orginal post, and full site credit is given. It is also stated at the headline of the post that this was added via a Yahoo News Search.

I recently recieved a cease and desist letter from someone who felt that I was in violation of the DMCA, for republising their content without permission. But even on their website, they proudly display the Yahoo Icon for syndicating their feed.

In order to keep the peace, I removed the offending material, as it is not my goal to steal someone's content. But I can't feel like if you are going to submit your content to Yahoo or Google for syndication, then you are giving certain rights for people republish. The person in question stated that they obviously did not like my site, and that they didn't want it published there without their permission.

But the bigger problem is that I am faced with a question that if this is a violation, how do I prevent it in the future without removing the automatic RSS feed? And is this a violation of the DMCA? If it is a violation, is it me who is violating their content rights, or the news aggregator?

I did search for discussion on this matter, so any links that may be relavent to this discussion would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance..



 1:56 pm on Jun 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is going to happen more frequently due to the increased use of news feeds and their subsequent abuse.

Why did you post the feeds on your website?
was it to get more traffic?
more content?

I think that the courts would see that as anything other than private personal use.

I am aware of several large media companies filing suit and winning verdicts for Copyright infringement.

Just because google or yahoo or some other site caries a feed doesn't mean that it's free use.


 12:25 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is interesting. I would love to have the ability to have Yahoo send them an email saying that they can no longer use Yahoo's syndication feature since they do not want their content "syndicated". But I digress.

Here is what I would do. I would find a relevant place on your site, maybe a faq page or about page , and post a disclaimer that you have the right to post syndicated content from news feeds and other feeds. But here is the IMPORTANT part; make it very clear that if the original content provider requests that you pull a SPECIFIC article, then you will do so within a timely manner. If you publish articles directly from a blogger's feed I would add that they can request their feed be removed from your website.

Your other option is to retain a lawyer and spend thousands of dollars proving that you are not viloating copyright law or the DMCA.

It really depends on how the post is generated as to whether or not you can easily "pull" specific articles, but that is the right thing to do.

I look at the bottom line, I work on my website to make money, not spend money defending a post that the original writer doesn't want on my site. You will waste far more time fighting this sort of thing that would be better spent improving your website n other ways.

But that is just my opinion.



 10:20 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

If they are providing the feed then you can use it. Sounds like they need a lesson in what an RSS feed is.

Perhaps an email to them would help clear things up, because if I am understanding you.... You have a site, it is displaying an RSS feed, the person who created the RSS feed is now asking you to remove the feed from your site.... Is that correct?

If so then I would really email them back to explain that they are providing a feed and that it is commen pratice to display feeds and that displaying a feed is in no way violating any copyright.

The only way it could be a copyright violation is if you are taking news stories from their site and creating an RSS feed and providing that to other sites. Or maybe if you somehow highjacked the feed and altered it.

Since they are the creator and author of the RSS feed then you are not copying anything of theirs. To be in violation of a copyright you actually have to copy something. Displaying a feed is not copying anything. Plain and simple.

As far as offering to remove a specific article I wouldn't even go that far. If they don't want something in their feed redisplayed then it is up to them to remove that article from the feed. They need to remember that they are creating and in full control of the feed and you shouldn't have to concern yourself with what it contains. Or they can place certain articles behind a login form if they don't want mass public to get at it.


 10:30 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

eventus you realize that one of the 's' in RSS stands for Syndication..... You are aware of what that means aren't you?

To sydicate or to publish in many newspapers or periodicals at once.

How can using some thing that was put out there for the mass public to use be called copyright infringment.... I mean if I use your RSS feed have I copied anything? No... so it can't be copyright infringment, I mean that is a pretty simple test. Was a copy made...no... then no infrigment of any copyrights granted exists.


 12:17 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi all, I've got an SBI site and it's set to automatically RSS new pages and edits. Over the past few days I'm seeing traffic from what looks like a feed publisher, critternews. I'm new to the web so please excuse me if this sounds elementary.

My question is, when you click on our feeds headline at the aforementioned site, you surf my entire domain, nav bar and all and there's a black page header atop our sites logo. Although we are still logging the hit, and google ads seem to work, every url has a "PHP?" extension, all my ".html" names are gone.

Please help, is this hijacking? There is a copyright notice on our site usage page but it doesn't cover RSS feeds. Yet the feeds they publish shows our whole site PHP'd anyhow.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks allot.


[edited by: jatar_k at 9:22 pm (utc) on July 24, 2006]
[edit reason]
[1][edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]


 10:03 pm on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

A lot of people here are confused about the terms syndication and how it fits into copyright. Just because a site syndicates its content does not automatically grant you the right to REPUBLISH the content. You have to refer to their copyright notice for that and BY DEFAULT you cannot republish another author's content. Google, Yahoo and other aggregators like my site have contracts with content producers, sometimes there is money involved sometimes not, most of the time the author is happy for the traffic. But that does not give any Joe the right to REPUBLISH the content without the author or rightsholder's permission.

Fox here in Oakland syndicates "Seinfeld" the TV show from NBC the original creator. Just because it is syndicated does not mean I can put it up on my TV channel (if I had one) because Fox is doing it.

I know it is easy and there are a lot of open source XML->HTML tools out there but if you do not get permission from the rightsholder, you may only publish a fair use snippet from the article. Fair use does not always mean the first 250 words or first paragraph. It means fair use and that is subjective, it cannot be determined by these tools. Fair use can only be decided by a judge. It is up to you whether you want to go through that.


 6:22 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why have a feed if you dont want people to view it? And how is it a copyright violation when you aren't copying anything? You aren't stealing someones's content you are spreading it. As long as you don't tamper with the feed and steal the URLs back to you or something like that.

I don't think it is any different then listening to the radio, you can't come into a bar that is playing your top 40 radio show and say, "I don't like it here... You can't play my radio station in here. This is a copyright infringment."

If you don't want people using your feed then don't have one. The whole point of the feed is to get it out there and generate clicks.

The word REPUBLISH has come up in upper case a few times, and I think that is not what putting a feed on your site is, it is simply tuning in. REPUBLISHing would require some form of me placing URLs and Titles and what ever other content by me COPYING something and then REPUBLISHing it, that is not what happens if you understand the backend of it. All I do is plug in a URL and whatever RSS reader I have will display it, If I place an RSS reader onto my site then good for me. It is like having a TV in my bar.

You have the abilty to deny the feed based on IP on whatever so if you don't want someone using it then don't give them access, but DON'T call it copyright infringement which is what a DMCA filing implies.

[edited by: Demaestro at 6:27 pm (utc) on July 13, 2006]


 6:35 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Excuss the ranting here but I have another point about it not being copyright infringment.

When you get an RSS feed you request a file from a server and the server hands you an XML file, that XML file is parsed and sent to a users browser in HTML format. That HTML is parsed and displayed to the user, now depending on the users cache settings he may have an html copy of the page on his computer.

Other then that my site,more specifically, my server, the one who displayed the RSS feed has no copy of the XML file. It makes no copy, it stores no copy in memory, the content of your feed only exists in virtual memory for the lifetime of someones page view.

Therfore you cannot say that the site maintainer or any other person is in violation of any copyright infringment. No copy exists, that is why an RSS should be considered a broadcast.


 6:36 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Instead of hemming and hawing back and forth, why don't we take a look at what Yahoo says in it's rss terms of use [news.yahoo.com].

The feeds are provided free of charge for use by individuals and non-profit organizations for personal, non-commercial uses. We ask that you provide attribution to Yahoo! News in connection with your use of the feeds.

Sounds pretty straightforward: personal, non-commercial uses. So, the first question to ask is if the original poster's use was personal and non-commercial.

On the first page cited the example given for online distribution is a weblog. That's reinforced on this page [help.yahoo.com] with the blurb "You can incorporate RSS content into weblogs for non-commercial use."

So it seems that if the OP's site is a personal blog, it's fine. If it tips into being a commercial site, it's not.

Now we just have to define what a commercial site is ;-).


 6:44 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

It is not the viewing of the feed that is against copyright laws, it is the republishing of the feed that is. Now that does not mean the rightsholder does not want his feed rebublished, but to be sure you have to ask first. It is so easy, and if you are a professional, you will be sure to get permission. If you don't ask, you risk DMCA complaints, being sued, damages, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. It is so easy to ask, but fly-by-night webmasters are too lazy to build partnerships and would rather risk it than hear "no". A publisher does not automatically waive rights soley based on the format they publish in. The responsability is on you to aquire those rights. Convienence does not trump copyright law.

I don't make the rules. I am just telling you how it works and how to be successful republishing feeds. You can attack the logic behind copyright law all you want but unless you can change the law you need to play by the rules or risk consequences.


 7:52 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't feel that tuning into an RSS feed is republishing. I suppose you can make that argument but I wouldn't.

I do understand what you are saying but if you are broadcasting an RSS feed without limitations, then you can't get mad for people tuning in.

Like I touched on, if you only want sites x, y, and z to have access to the feed then only allow the those IPs to grab your XML file and disallow the rest, it is a simple proceedure.

No RSS reader out there requests from the user the right to republish your RSS feed. The fact that the feed is available is reason enough for someone with an RSS tool to view it.

Thunderbird, Firefox, Google personalized page, Linux operating systems, all have RSS readers built in. Do they get permission from any of the sites that get viewed in them? They are doing what you would call, republish feeds. Of course they don't ask, the feeds are available to be viewed.

Viewed in my computer's taskbar, viewed in my browser side bar, viewed in my rss bookmarks, viewed in my website. What is the difference? Why can Mozilla.org not ask but I have to? You can't have it both ways, restricting your feed is the way to go, not more lawsuits..... That is silly and isn't waht we need as a community.

Your suggestion of risk and consequences is laughable.

Go tell Google that they can't republish your publically available RSS feed and see what they say.

Tell them they are irresponsible for allowing anyone to type in your RSS feed URL and then displaying it to them on Google's website.

Then tell Firefox that they are promoting their browser by allowing people to type in your publically avable RSS feed URL and then displaying the feed in the browser without the user having to go to your site.

Once you have done that, then you can tell me that I can't type in your publically available RSS feed URL and display it in my site.

I promise I will give the same response Google and Mozilla do, and I prmise to take the same corrective steps they take to correct our unethical behavior. Just let me know what that is.

[edited by: Demaestro at 7:58 pm (utc) on July 13, 2006]


 8:29 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)


Sorry I somehow missed your post. I did check that out earlier but it seemed off point to me.

Firstly because Yahoo didn't contact him, the original author of the content did, which says to me his server and not Yahoo's is handing out the XML file. That is a guess though but if true it removes Yahoo's service from the equation.

Secondly I was debating if this was a violation of the content creators copyrights, what Yahoo has listed is a terms of service agreement..... not a general release of their copyright entitlments, which to me implies even they know they the displayting the feed has no relation to copyright infingment, they are offering a service, that service has terms.

I looked deeper and can't find any mention of content creators hold the copyrights for the content or anything.

It mearly says entities must meet a requirment to use the service. But like you mentioned who is the judge of the requirment being met or not and what are the requirments to fall into the defined categories they allow?

My point though is this is not a copyright issue and even Yahoo don't seem to be making this a copyright issue, what they have listed is a terms of service agreement, nothing more.


 8:56 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yeah, there are always plenty of questions in these areas. I threw the Y! ToS in there just because it should be referenced somewhere along the line.

But the most important thing in a disucssion of this type is for the original poster to come back to answer some of the questions and clarify some of the points raised. Until then everybody is just spinning their wheels without any specifics.


 1:26 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

jimbeetle alludes to something I've been trying to figure out in the TOS.

"Now we just have to define what a commercial site is ;-). "

What does qualify as a "commercial site"? Is it a site owned by any commercial entity? Is it a hobby site that makes money? It seems vaguely described to me. You could make arguments either way.

I want to put an Yahoo or Google News feed on a local radio stations website. It's a for-profit corporation, but their site is informational in nature and has no PPC or banner ads.

Is this commercial use? RSS readers are personal use. Could any website be considered for personal use?


 9:31 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Let me break it down so anybody can understand the law, not what people "feel" should be the law. . .

I don't feel that tuning into an RSS feed is republishing. I suppose you can make that argument but I wouldn't.

Nobody is making that argument, I reread all the posts and I am not sure where you got that idea.

Viewed in my computer's taskbar, viewed in my browser side bar, viewed in my rss bookmarks, viewed in my website. What is the difference? Why can Mozilla.org not ask but I have to? You can't have it both ways, restricting your feed is the way to go, not more lawsuits..... That is silly and isn't waht(sic) we need as a community.

The difference is between the term "reading" and the term "republishing" an RSS feed. It is obvious you cannot distingush the difference, but there is a big one. If webmasters were not so lazy and there were not so many scrapers, there would be less lawsuits. RSS does not stand for "Really Simple Stealing".

Like I touched on, if you only want sites x, y, and z to have access to the feed then only allow the those IPs to grab your XML file and disallow the rest, it is a simple proceedure.

Again, convienence does not cancel out copyright. Just because it is easy to do something does not waive the rights of the author.

No RSS reader out there requests from the user the right to republish your RSS feed. The fact that the feed is available is reason enough for someone with an RSS tool to view it.

Refer to the difference between "reader" and "republisher". But you are getting close to a good argument. This is called the "implied license" argument and is the rallying cry of scrapers all over the net. Unfortunately since 1978 all content is, by default, copyrighted unless otherwise noted. The "implied license" argument has yet to stand up in court. The "opt-out" argument is another one you should have brought up. Again that has yet to hold up in court.

I am not against the free flow of information, but what you are telling the original poster is illegal. I run a few aggregators and I will let you in on a secret. 99.99% of bloggers want to be in an aggregator, it is like free advertising. If you ask for permission, they will be so thankful, you will get links on their site, they will remind their readers about your aggregator periodically, and you will build a relationship that in the long run is more valuable than money can buy. I have never had anybody say "no". But that does not allow me assume everybody will say yes?

If you don't ask, you will be losing all of this AND setting yourself up for a law suit. I just don't see ANY benefit for not asking. It is all a losing proposition.

Don't believe me?
IP Attorney Bruce Sunstein Discusses RSS Copyright [ecommercetimes.com]


 5:33 pm on Jul 24, 2006 (gmt 0)


Awesome post and you gave me a lot to think about... especially your point about the difference between a reader and republishing. Also thank-you for the article from the lawyer.... I pretty much disagree with everything he says in that article but that is why we have judges. One lawyers thoughts are hardly the stuff laws are made of but he does represent one side of the arguement very well.

"implied license" argument has yet to stand up in court. The "opt-out" argument is another one you should have brought up. Again that has yet to hold up in court.

Actually you are mistaken with this statement.

Google and other big SE crawl your site and make COPIES of your content WITHOUT asking. The way they got out of getting sued..... and this was argued in court.... was the fact that you can "opt out" of them crawling your site by YOU taking action by placing a robots.txt entry. This is the reason that Google cannot be sued for copyright infringement.

This turns the system on it's ear because the onus is now placed on the copyright holder to tell the SE that they don't want them to violate their copyright, rather then the SE having to ask if they can make a copy.

Again I ask why can they..... and I cannot. Is Google so special? Am I not special too?


 6:16 pm on Jul 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think it might be useful to make it clear the the term 'copyright' doesn't just cover direct copying, and breaches encompass any useage not given directly by a rights holder to and end user.

If you copy something without permission (let's use a DVD for example) then indeed you are breaching copyright, but you are also breaching copyright if you publicly play the DVD, such as in a theatre or cinema, without first getting the right permissions. You are also breaking copyright if you lend the DVD to someone.

Also, to use the 'radio in a bar' example, in the UK (and I would assume many other countries) bar owners need to obtain a PRS license or they cant play ANY music. People who officialy 'publish' songs must agree to the terms of the MCPS and the PRS, so by default have given permission for the PRS to license their music in bars. My point is, the world of RSS is not regulated in the same way so the same standards and practices can not necessarily be applied or implied.


 7:46 pm on Jul 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Rolf21 that is not how it works here in North America when it comes to listening to a radio program in a pub or whatever. The radio station needs permission to put on a song but you don't need permission to tune in. Plus you are only touching on the music end. What if the radio content is talk radio? What if it is some guy reading newspaper articles or doing a stand up comedy routine, or reporting traffic? I would never ask to listen to local news on my radio in my coffee shop, nor should I have to.

I know what you are saying but haven't you ever gone into a pub and see the football game on the TV? Would call this "republishing" or would you call it "tuning in"?


 8:55 am on Jul 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's a fair argument, although I stand by my point. One can't assume that something works outside the rules of copyright, however logical it may seem, so implied permission is thin ice to walk on.

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