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Are Republished Feeds Bad?
This issue has come to light several times in the past few months. The biggest fiasco probably has to do with the PodShow crew being accused "hijacking" feeds, but there has been a non-stop dribble of accusations for a while now.

The most recent accusation I stumbled across was against Odeo. Peter Van Dijck writes:

I just realized Odeo republishes feeds: http://odeo.com/channel/rss/265 is a republish of Steve Garfield’s feed at Feedburner http://feeds.feedburner.com/OffOnATangent (which is a republish *with* permission).

I took a look at my own Odeo feed and discovered the following:
  • Clicking on the RSS link on my Odeo page brings me to my Feedburner feed, not an Odeo feed.
  • If I manually create a URL like Peter indicated (http://odeo.com/channel/rss/62685/ in my case), then I do see what Peter is talking about, but only partly (more on that below)
  • Odeo *does* provide auto-discovery to their feed and not my Feedburner feed.
Peter accuses Odeo of this behaviour deliberately in order to embed "them more into the infrastructure of podcasting". That's probably true, but he further goes on to say that:

What’s more, there’s no reason for Odeo to republish a feed, if Steve already has a perfectly good feed, which is where they steal the content from. Steve misses out, because he gets less control over his content, over his feed, over his subscribers. Odeo wins.

Here's what the Odeo enclosure looks like in my Odeo feed:

I've had to break the lines up to make it display nicely, but the important part is that this is a redirect. If I plunk the enclosure url into my browser window properly, I am redirected to my website and the MP3 file is downloaded directly from my server.

So I will agree that is the Odeo system fails, then the redirect will fail. Further, if Odeo turns to the dark side, they can do all sorts of nefarious things to an audio file request before redirecting it to the actual file (like collecting stats, gasp!)

I give Peter the control issue, but I don't see is any "stealing" going on.

In general, signing up for a directory or service like Odeo will have some benefits. If it didn't, then why would anyone sign up? If any of those benefits involved your audio file (meaning the provision or stats or embedded players and the like) then there's a very good chance that the service-provided feed is going to modify your original feed in some way.

Is that a bad thing? Well, I guess that depends on the individual podcaster and to the extent of which the modification has taken place.

Go in with your eyes wide open. I wouldn't suggest the pain of reading the TOS for each directory, but if you're concerened about your feed then take a close look at the feeds of existing users before handing yours over.

2 Comments/Trackbacks

Good post. The point is though, people most likely don't sign up to have their feeds listed in Odeo. Some do, but I'd guess many feeds are added by someone who just wants to listen to it.

So Odeo does not have the permission, or even the implied permission of the owner of the feed to republish it... I am especially annoyed with this because it's so unnecessary and the only reason for it that I can possibly imagine is to give odeo more stats and control, taking it away from the feed owner. I don't think that's kosher...

Hi Peter,

Ah..I see where you're coming from now. I was operating under the assumption that each feed in Odeo belonged to a podcaster who had explicity joined Odeo. You seem to be more savvy with Odeo's model than I and have identified that the podcaster may not have joined Odeo at all.

I agree, then, that this seems off somehow. Whenever I'm faced with a question about permission and feeds, I'm always never quite sure where the line should be drawn. I mean, the act of publishing a feed implies that you would like to be syndicated, doesn't it? Perhaps that's no longer true now that feeds are being used for podcast delivery.

If we go with the idea that a feed implies permission to syndicate, then where should the line be drawn between scrupulous and unscrupulous uses? This is where it gets murky for me.

Perhaps there's a line separating 'republishing' as in making available to others and 'reading' as in plunking an RSS feed into an individual RSS reader such as Bloglines?

Maybe the solution is to embed a Creative Commons (or other) license right into a feed that contains the uses under which the owner licenses its use?

Many thoughts. No answers

Comments/Trackbacks are closed for maintenance.

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