inbound - 7:54 pm on Jun 6, 2011 (gmt 0)
Disclosure - I fall into the "intermediary" category that I mention here.
Why didn't they just call it "Stealing your data Microformat"?
The creation of this format, as clearly stated on the schema.org, is all about making it easier for search engines to extract data - and we all know the ways in which a certain large search engine has been stepping on toes when they get a hold of enough data to compete in any given vertical.
As far as I can see, many of the data items should be part of an on-site search (of an intermediary) rather than being presented to the search engines for them to scrape/combine/use. It's really expensive to collect those types of details for millions of businesses (or other types of record) and the search engines want companies to give them away so that they can be used (eventually) against them!
Google, in particular, should realise that some intermediaries are a useful resource for searchers - as it stands Google is hell-bent on gathering as much information as possible (initially by offering benefits to webmasters, only to shaft them later - see reviews as an example).
You may argue that the change makes it easier for small businesses to be seen - and they will not mind Google re-using the data they present - but the search engines know the percentage of small businesses that will implement the format is small; so they are putting a carrot out to companies with lots of data (and a large percentage of those will have just been hit by the Panda/Farmer update).
The sad truth is that enough large data holders will use the format to give the search engines enough information so it then forces others (reliant on search) to adopt the format.
We should be asking the big search engines why they fiercely protect their own IP yet expect businesses to hand over data (seen as IP for many businesses, although legally different) so freely and without a clear contract as to how it will be used.
I think it's time for search engines to be forced into licensing data from websites so we all know how the data will be used.