Here come the lawyers

Steve Yelvington over at Poynter has a few thoughts this morning that bear repeating. Now that RSS has entered the mainstream, what are the rules about using an RSS feed? Are they only for personal use, or can you republish them on a Website?

As more media companies hop on the RSS bandwagon, we’re going to have to confront some legal questions: Who owns the feeds, and what can be done with them? Ownership is easy — it’s just copyright. But licensing is complicated.
Steve notes that Wired has an open policy, asking only that users refrain from pulling full text articles, while the AP says their feeds are only for “personal use,” although they don’t define that.

This is the beginning, folks, of the rules of law entering into a space heretofore occupied by gunslingers and Postmoderns. It will be interesting to see how people respond, because licensing and restricting are tools of a top-down culture, and sooner or later, we’re going to be talking about fees for such. I think trying to lasso the Internet in such a fashion is like trying to hang onto an octypus in a sea of slime. Stay tuned.

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