Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weblogs T&Cs ban Google, Digg, Tweetmeme, et al

A fair few of my RSS feeds are ad hoc mashups. I’ve not subscribed directly to anyone source but I’ll have subscribed to a Google Blog Search or Google News search RSS. I may be using Yahoo Pipes to mash something up for me. In many cases I’m following a news aggregator output and increasingly I’m subscribed to friends, co-workers and industry minds’ public streams.

For example, I’ve been subscribed to the found and shared discoveries of Tim Aldiss for months. Now Google’s ramped up the social media aspect of Google Reader he becomes a contact/person I follow.

Weblogs’ Terms and Conditions doesn’t cater for this sort of RSS consumption. It tries to force you to subscribe directly to their RSS feed. You can read their feed terms here.

The paragraph in question is;
The RSS Service may be used only with those platforms and newsreaders from which a functional link is made available that, when accessed, takes the viewer directly to the display of the full article on one of our Web sites. You must use the RSS feeds as provided by us.

The first line impacts news aggregators that may harvest content from sites like Engadget and then direct readers to their summary. These aggregators share their discoveries via RSS too.

It’s the second line that affects me. If someone I’m following via Google Reader shares a Weblogs item then I access that item via RSS but not by Weblogs’ RSS.

I didn’t do this willingly. It happened through the natural RSS surfacing mechanisms of RSS readers. I really doubt anyone at Weblogs would object to this. They want their items to be shared and liked and passed around. In the case of Google Reader and contacts I’m still reading the Weblogs original and if I click anywhere I’ll go straight to them.

I remember working with online newspapers in the mid 2000s who still had T&Cs which wanted people to get written permission before linking to any article. As part of the newspapers SEO efforts we got those T&Cs changed. The newspapers may be revisiting this policy but I wonder if Weblogs actually means to be pushing in this direction. What do you think?

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