Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Sun, Jun 05 2005

Don't Pee On My Writing And Then Tell Me It's Raining

Have you been following one of the newest battles brewing in the area of RSS? Richard McManus uncovered the interesting business trend of companies taking RSS feeds and arranging it so that clients could use those feeds to keep placing fresh content on their site.

Hector Jimenez, a developer of one of the other software products, has jumped into the comments section at Mr. McManus' site and has given his input on the whole issue of fair use, copyright and plagiarism as they relate to his money-making venture.

I guess some of us will now have to drop some of our other tasks and take time to look for ways to make it known that we own our writing and we don't like having our words ripped off and compiled into cheap money-making machines for lazy, pseudo webmasters who would rather steal than produce their own content. I'm sure they'll end up making a fast buck or two. But they're not going to get any respect or direct cooperation from me any time soon. I would have much higher opinions of someone who attempted to put quality writers in touch with hard-working webmasters in business and encouraged those webmaster to pay writers a fair price for their writing. In the end, it may all die a natural death. How many times will people seeking content keep going to a place that dumps a bit of blindly aggregated content surrounded by ads when they figure out they can simply use a news aggregator to get material without that extra step? And if those of us who currently present full material via RSS begin to limit that content to a teaser line and a link to our own site, things will become less fun for the searchers and the lazy webmasters.

Some say that syndicating material makes it fair game, but just try to take a syndicated comic strip or advice column from a newspaper and re-distribute it in this same fashion. When they catch you, you'll be in trouble. And that may be to our advantage. The larger news agencies and newspapers may jump in and lead the way in this whole squabble. One way or the other, things will heat up soon, I'm sure.

As an aside, did anyone else notice that at least two of the companies mentioned at Read/Write Web are advertising free lifetime upgrades for their software and are also selling their individual versions of the software for exactly the same price? It looks to me as though some of them are already ripping off each other's marketing concepts. You know what they say about there being no honor among thieves. Maybe that adage will also turn out to be true for those who sell tools to the thieves. Even if it turns out to be legally untouchable, it's a pretty sleazy way to make a living off hard-working writers. If those producing and buying the software don't think it's a big deal to take our work and don't think we work that hard, why aren't they writing their own content instead of taking ours? posted at: 08:35 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry 05#6-5-05a

posted at: 07:35 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!