Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Copywriting RSS Feeds

Whilst 'feed fishing' for MedWorm, I came across several cancer blogs that I would have liked to add to the cancer category on MedWorm, but was saddened to see the following copywrite notice at the bottom of the feed items:

Copyright © 2007 (blog title removed) This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@monica.healthblogs.org so we can take legal action immediately.

Legal action immediately - ouch - some people just love their lawyers don't they? So I didn't add those feeds. I wonder if the cancer patients writing those blogs realise that their feeds are now being left out? Of course I respect that an individual may want their feed removing from MedWorm, for a number of reasons, which I would do so immediately if requested, but this talk of legal action leaves me feeling cold.

Feeds added to MedWorm have the potential to attract hundreds more site visitors as a result (checking my last stats, some sites were getting into the thousands). More people reading, sharing knowledge and experience - it's got to be a good thing, right? Especially when we are talking medical knowledge. Who cares how people get the information, so long as it is getting out? A real shame I think - very 'anti Web 2.0 / Health 2.0 / Medicine 2.0' - I hope it is not a trend that will grow.

My advice - if you aren't prepared to share your data, don't create an RSS feed, simple! You can't have it both ways - either share it, or don't.


  1. Actually, that's the default copyright notice added by a WordPress plugin. I can't remember which one at the moment, but I can look it up easily. The bottom line is that they flipped on the plugin and didn't edit the text to be a little bit more, well, realistic.

    I seriously doubt that they, or anyone else, would make good on that threat. Most would at least try other steps first.

    I've talked with the plugin author in the past to get him to change the text around some, but to no avail obviously...

  2. Thanks Jonathan, interesting to know where it came from. But obviously I couldn't possibly include any feeds in my database, with such a threat it would look very unprofessional at the least.