I Hate RSS Scrapers Who Breach My Copyright

I can’t stand Flawging or Splawging (spam law blogging), but I genuinely detest Blog Scraping, including RSS scraping.

It is more than plagiarism.

It is intellectual property theft.

The Trial Warrior Blog is a personal law blog (blawg). I devote a significant amount of time and energy in writing posts for the benefit of my readers. It is NOT commercial speech or lawyer advertising and is in no way associated with my legal practice or my law firm.

I have previously taken a stand on this issue, which resulted in lawyerlocate.ca abandoning its RSS aggregator feed.

Today I noticed that one of my posts has been redirected by an RSS feed in violation of my copyright. The only exceptions are where I have authorized or consented to have my blawg being added to a RSS feed aggregator (e.g. Canadian Law Blogs List at lawblogs.ca because Steve Matthews had the courtesy to ask first) or the exclusive, non-transferrable license granted to Newstex to syndicate my blawg, for which I receive a nominal royalty which covers administrative costs associated with operating my blawg.

Here is the email text of my cease-and-desist notice and takedown demand to Mobispine AB, the owner of NewsAlloy.com, regarding breach of my copyright:

“Mobispine AB 

Mobispine SMS4PC 

Humlegårdsgatan 20, 114 46 Stockholm

To Whom It May Concern:

I am the owner of The Trial Warrior Blog: https://thetrialwarrior.com/.

According to the PR Web post dated May 11, 2012: http://www.prweb.com/releases/mobispine/newsalloy/prweb1108824.htm, your company has acquired NewsAlloy.com, the Web based feed reader.

Recently, I have noticed at least three redirects by newsalloy.com for this post:  http://newsalloy.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fthetrialwarrior.com%2F2012%2F02%2F29%2Fmodel-law-not-common-law-governs-enforcement-of-foreign-arbitral-awards-in-ontario%2F

The following “Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs 3.0 Unported License” copyright notice is prominently displayed on the main page of my blog:

Copyright Notice

This work is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

You are in flagrant breach of my copyright.

I have neither consented nor authorized NewsAlloy.com to redirect, republish, or otherwise reproduce, in whole or in part, through the means of an RSS feed, the content of my blog. The NewsAlloy.com RSS redirect reproduces the entirety of my blog post, which is neither “fair dealing” under the Canadian federal Copyright Act, RSC 1985, c C-42, nor “fair use” under the U.S. Copyright law, title 17, U. S. Code.

I hereby demand that you immediately remove the RSS feed linking, redirecting or republishing the content of my blog.  If I do not receive written confirmation that you have complied with this cease-and-desist notice and takedown demand by no later than 5:00 p.m. (EST) on Monday, May 14, 2012, I will have no recourse but to commence legal action against and seek monetary damages and equitable relief.

Please govern yourself accordingly.

Antonin I. Pribetic”

Let’s see if and how they respond.

UPDATE:

I have subsequently modified my Creative Commons license to reflect the Canadian content of my blog as follows:

Copyright Notice

Creative Commons License
The Trial Warrior Blog by Antonin I. Pribetic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.

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7 Responses to “I Hate RSS Scrapers Who Breach My Copyright”

  1. Ted Folkman Says:

    Nino, is the point that these are commercial services? I assume, given your CC license, that a non-commercial RSS aggregator is okay, right?

    For what it’s worth, when I was deciding how to license Letters Blogatory, I chose an attribution/share alike license. My thinking was that I wanted to be able to include photos from, say, Wikipedia in my posts, and it would be difficult to do it if I had a more restrictive license than Wikipedia uses. If I make use of a photo that’s licensed attribution/sharealike in my post, I can’t really license a post on a non-commercial-only basis, unless there’s a way to make it clear that the limitations in my license don’t apply to the image, and that seemed to complicated to me.

    Best,

    Ted

  2. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Ted, thanks for your comment. Yes, this RSS scraper is a commercial entity. I have no objection to a non-commercial RSS aggregator linking or using a feed to my posts, as long as they ask my permission first.

    As far as the type of CC license you are using, it depends on how you characterize your blog. If the content is somewhat, albeit not exclusively, for commercial purposes, then the attribution/share alike version is fine. I use the CC 3.0 license for reasons set out in my post.

    Best,

    N.

  3. Matt Norwood Says:

    Anthony:

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for quite some time now. And I wholeheartedly understand and agree with your anger over this scraping issue. But as an IP lawyer who spends a lot of time addressing confusion over what intellectual property rights are (and what they aren’t), I wince when people refer to copyright infringement as “theft” (i.e. “It is more than plagiarism. It is intellectual property theft.”), especially when those people have legal training, especially when those people use that term when broadcasting from a public platform. You obviously have a sophisticated and nuanced view of copyright, so I’m surprised at your choice of rhetoric: in my opinion, it’s misleading and divisive, and it distracts people from what copyright law is actually trying to accomplish.

    Otherwise, thanks for all the great writing. I’m a big fan.

    Best regards,
    Matt Norwood

  4. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Matt. I did not say “all copyright infringement is theft”. What I said was blog scraping and RSS scraping is intellectual property theft. If someone scrapes my content without my permission and profits from it, then it is no different than someone breaking into my house, stealing a manuscript I have written, then organizing a book tour without inviting me to attend or sign copies. If you don’t consider scraping to be a form of theft, then what better analogy would you devise? And no, I don’t care about the legal definition of criminal theft or civil detinue or conversion.

  5. Ted Folkman Says:

    Nino, apologies for keeping this conversation alive past its expiration date, but CC licensing is interesting to me.

    First, you say you’re okay with noncommercial aggregators using your feed “as long as they ask my permission first.” Isn’t the whole point of the cc license you’ve chose that they don’t need to ask your permission first?

    Second, if I understand your second paragraph, you are suggesting that, as a general matter, the appropriate cc license depends on whether the work that is to be licensed is commercial or non-commercial. That may be true for you (and hey, you can use any license you choose, or even go “all rights reserved”–it’s your work!), but I don’t think it’s true across the board. Examples of non-commercial authors who license their work for commercial and non-commercial work: authors of free software such as the software that powers our blogs. Examples of commercial authors who license their work for non-commercial uses only: textbook authors who authorize photocopying for classroom use only. Again, it’s fine for you to say that you are licensing your work non-commercially because you wrote it for non-commercial purposes, because you’re the author and all that really matters is whether your license makes sense to you. But I don’t see why your approach is a principle that should apply more generally.

  6. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Ted, most of your questions about the types of licenses available are addressed on the Creative Commons website: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/. There is also a handy “Choose a License” tool: http://creativecommons.org/choose/. Antonin

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