Let’s face it, web-based RSS readers are–at the end of the day–web pages. As a publisher we can not let folks republish our content in any way they like, and we certainly can’t let folks republish our content with advertising against it! If you replace RSS reader with “web page” in this whole discussion it is clear that any company taking another companies IP without permission and putting ads againt it is wrong–no matter how much value they provide to the end users.
Now, I love RSS readers. I use Bloglines all day long. We want to produce full-feeds for our readers and we have for three years. HOWEVER, if folks abuse our feeds, and interfere with our ability to make a living for our bloggers and shareholders, we will take every action possible to protect ourselves. If you want to say that’s a threat fine, but it’s my job to protect our shareholders, employees, and bloggers. I have no problem drawing the line in the sand and enforcing that line–you can call it a threat, but it’s really self-defense.
That being said, I’ve begged Greg at Newsgator, Yahoo, AOL, Bloglines, and many other RSS folks to a) ask us for permission and b) cut a deal with us. NOT ONE OF THEM HAVE DONE IT! Frankly, I think all the RSS companies are LAZY with the exception of Feedburner. FB is actually cutting deals with folks and sharing revenue. I hope Greg and his investors realize that there is an OPPORTUNITY here.
Yesterday I talked to Feedburner about starting an RSS reader that shared revenue with content producers/RSS publishers, and I think they will do it. If they don’t I’ll get AOL to do it, and if AOL won’t do it I’d back a startup to do it (feel free to ping me if you’re looking for an angel investors). There is a solution to this problem, and the solution is a HUGE business. I wish someone would do the three months worth of work to start this business!
I am all about the problem solving. I’ve been pushing this dialogue for three years and the RSS companies have ignored the issue. Now it seems that the RSS companies finally have to make some money and they are coming to the table–that’s a good thing.
At the end of the day this is about everyone winning: the readers, the writers, the publishers, and the software companies. The only way everyone can win is if we all discuss the issue and come to an agreement.
… as we say at the final table: “Let’s do business.”
From Greg’s post:
“… we’re experimenting with advertising in the online reader experience. In some of the new GUI models, they are pretty unintrusive, and at best they even add something to the whole experience. But you’ll have to wait and see for more details there. And yes, we’re aware of some of the potential issues (example) surrounding this, and we’re committed to being a good citizen with respect to these issues.
So what about the ads that were online for an hour or so last Friday, with screenshots floating around on the net? Some ad-related code has been in the system for a while, but was not intended to be turned on on Friday afternoon. We have a configuration switch in our system to turn ads on/off, which we use in internal testing; that switch was inadvertantly set to “on” on our online systems. A simple mistake, which was quickly corrected.”