Shouldn't You Have To Ask Permission If You Want To Take A Blog's Feed For Your Profit?
This has been troubling me for a while. And it just may go over like a lead balloon for some of you. We all work really hard on creating quality blog content, building our readership, creating trust in order to sell our legal services. We publish it on our blogs, some under a creative commons license. But when we started publishing did we automatically implicitly give any one person or company the right to gather our blog's feed and present our feeds in an aggregated format so they may profit off our reputation and work....without our permission?
When the ABA Journal On Line went live with their blawg directory, if you chose to submit your blawg and they accepted, you gave them permission to publish your feed. And they aggregate for profit. That's perfectly acceptable. I have submitted my blawg to several directories and sites like Feedburner and Technorati who profit from the collective body of feeds. This was my choice. And I actively consented.
When I suggested to Guy Kawasaki he create a LawAlltops I gave my permission for my site to be used on his aggregator. Will their come a time he may monetize the site? I strongly believe that's his plan. But, again, he has my permission.
What I have noticed lately is others looking to take my feed without my permission for their own profit. One could rationalize that it's free publicity. But since when did I lose my authority to publicize my work the way I choose to and with full knowledge of where it will be fed?
Remember, these are not other bloggers writing their own blog post on their own blog and referencing my blog post (even with select paragraphs copied) then providing links back to my blog. Nor am I referencing those who are listing my blog in their blog roll. I'm also not discussing traditional RSS for the individual reader who is simply looking for the convenience of having the blogs they like collected together for easy reading. There is no profit motive for the individual who creates their own aggregation, just convenience.
The for-profit sites I am talking about are those sites created by an individual/company who wants to funnel readers to their site on a grand scale, to encourage them to go to their site exclusively to find your blog post and mine based upon the concept of convenience to the reader. Then the owners monetize the site. They profit by selling advertising and/or they market their own products and services. Just by being part of the aggregation on this site there may be implied consent and endorsement of whatever the product or service is being advertised or sold. And should the aggregation be part of a larger company, the company could be sold to yet another.
Is aggregation without permission any different than the content scraper who lifts your post without permission, while still giving you attribution, so they can draw away your traffic and promote their 'ad words' or services or products for their own profit? If the SEO for the aggregator's site is or becomes great, will it replace your site as the first site in a search for your name or content and draw your intended traffic there? Is it really fair? It may or may not be technically lawful but what better way to encourage endorsement from those whose feeds you seek then by asking permission.
Should bloggers state clearly on their blog they do not give any third party the right to take their blog's RSS feed for personal profit without the owner's express permission? I know I do in the creative commons license I post on every page of this blog.
Maybe I'd be OK if I was asked and I might even enjoy the publicity depending upon the quality and mission of the aggregator. And I don't really even begrudge them looking to turn a profit for their work if they are producing something of value. But I do have a problem with someone just taking. Just ask me. I don't bite....well, not often.
Anyone have any thoughts on this? I'm really just looking for discussion as to whether I'm off base, have missed something or have hit the mark for any or many of you.