Is Google Stealing Authors’ Copyright With Buzz?

2 years ago I shared about a blogger and follower/friend of mine, Ali Akbar, who purchased the domain, googleappsengine.com (he still owns it) in order to create an AppEngine-related blog (since Google apparently forgot to purchase the domain).  Ali received a threatening Cease-and-Desist from Google shortly after asking him to immediately discontinue use of the domain and “Take immediate steps to transfer the Domain Name to Google”.  It would appear that Google needs to take a dose of its own medicine though.  To my surprise, I’ve realized recently that my articles from StayNAlive.com and other blogs are being shared, in their full text, on Buzz and having my ads stripped from them, without my permission.

For those unaware, there’s a “subscribe” button when you visit this blog that allows anyone to obtain the RSS of this blog and plug it into a Reader.  For those of you reading this in a Reader, thank you, and you’re already aware of this.  One thing I have done with those feeds if you haven’t noticed is at the bottom of each post in the RSS, I’ve added Google Adsense to my feeds so I can at least cover my costs of running this blog and make at least a few cents a day trying to re-coup costs of hosting and time spent writing posts.  If you visit http://staynalive.com/feed in a browser like Chrome, you can look at the raw feed and see the ads at the bottom of each post.  Or, if you’re reading this post in a traditional feed reader, look down at the bottom of this post and you’ll see the ad.

However, there’s a feature on Buzz that enables anyone reading my shared posts to expand the summarized content and view the entire post, right in Buzz.  For one, I didn’t give Buzz permission to do this on shared posts, and second, Buzz is stripping out my ads, depriving me of that potential revenue rather than either displaying those ads, or redirecting the user back to my site where I can monetize that in some other form.  This is blatant copyright infringement if you ask me!  Now, if you expand my posts, since it’s integrated into Gmail, look over to the right – see those ads?  Yup, I’m not getting a penny of that.

Google is now monetizing my content, and neglecting to ask for my permission in doing so, while removing what I had put in place to monetize my content.  Starting today, I’m removing my blog from my Google Profile, as well as my Google Reader shares so that I don’t help further the copyright infringement on other blogs I share.  The problem that still exists is that anyone who shares my content from Google Reader will also have my content available on Buzz in full format, and my ads stripped.  There’s no way to stop it, and Google is encouraging this wrong practice.

To be clear, I’m fine with them either displaying the ads that I put there (and allowing me to monetize off the other ads that are on the page), or just summarizing the article and encouraging users to click through to my site.  I’m not okay with Google scraping my content, stripping my ads, altering my content, and pushing it out for them to get 100% of the revenues off of something I spent time and money making.

Google, how is this not evil?  Maybe I should use Google’s own Cease and Desist letter to get them to stop this practice.  Or would that itself be copyright infringement?

Image courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment – “The Ant Bully”

UPDATE: The Google Buzz Team did contact me on Buzz (Ironically, considering the content of this post), and they say they’re going to have the ad scraping issue fixed by next week.

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47 thoughts on “Is Google Stealing Authors’ Copyright With Buzz?

  1. […] Loading….. BlogBuzzAbout Contact Older Post » Jesse Stay hits the Copyright Wall Feb 25 2010 06:14:24 PM Posted By : Dan Morrill Comments (0) Jesse Stay is one of the better people to follow on the internet and his writing is always interesting to read, plus he also owns Social Too and has written two books as well. Jesse is no stranger to generating content, startups, and some generally interesting reading on his blog. What has apparently happened is that Jessie has noticed that Google is stripping his ads off his RSS feed, shoving his full content into Buzz, and then monetizing the content without Jessie getting a dime. As he states on his blog today To be clear, I’m fine with them either displaying the ads that I put there (and allowing me to monetize off the other ads that are on the page), or just summarizing the article and encouraging users to click through to my site. I’m not okay with Google scraping my content, stripping my ads, altering my content, and pushing it out for them to get 100% of the revenues off of something I spent time and money making. Source: Stayin’ Alive […]

    Like

  2. I noticed this a couple days back (not the ads, but the full text rendering), and disconnected GReader for the same reason.

    To me, this speaks to hand-crafting what you feed. Buzz isn't Twitter isn't Facebook. I'm trying to get into the practice of treating each separately, rather than just dumping everything into every feed. Let the user aggregate.

    Like

  3. I certainly thought it odd when I noticed the full text of articles right in Buzz.

    As we've seen with some other aspects of Buzz, Google doesn't seem to have thought this through. I don't get the impression that they're outright trying to deprive you of revenue, but make life easier for the reader.

    Your solution of taking down the blog feed only works part way, and perhaps not to your advantage. There's nothing really to stop anyone else from posting the RSS feed form your blog, and causing that content to still be viewed in Buzz (and thus not monetized by you).

    Better, I think, to rally the troops and get the Google to change the product to accommodate the content producers that make it viable.

    Seems not as sensible to deprive yourself of readers (and therefore future income) while haggling over “small change” (It could be adding up, but which adds faster, the future income from increased readership, or the lost revenue in the now?)

    There's no reason they can't pull in the feed with the ads. The Google knows plenty enough about the internet to know when a feed is Your Blog, regardless of who posted the feed. They could even put the ads back in if the user that posted the feed strips them out some way.

    Futhermore, the Google has already moved quickly to change the product given sufficient user uprising – the product is in an early enough stage, and likely significant enough to the overall strategy that they're really likely to go all out to see that it succeeds.

    I think it's more realistic to see ads in a “news feed” than to not see them (and I'm actually often interested if they're placed right). There's absolutely no reason why both the content producer and the Google should not benefit from this.

    Like

  4. Rob, I agree – I don't think Google intended harm in any of this. I do
    think they launched too early though, and I really think pulling it back
    into private beta might be a good idea for them right now. I can't control
    that though so all I can do is provide feedback and critique as I notice
    problems.

    Like

  5. I see your update, Jesse, but I have a follow up question for Google. Is Google Buzz at all going to be receptive to letting content publishers choose how much of the post they want Buzz to access? I don't mind having full feeds via RSS, but I do have a problem with Buzz copying my ENTIRE posts. I'd rather give them a snippet and then get the traffic I deserve.

    Like

  6. I mentioned that on Buzz when they asked. No response back. I really wish
    they'd comment here so it would remain relevant to the actual post. I think
    it's indicative of how they think – they want everything to occur on
    Google's turf.

    Like

  7. I think Jesse's right on that. The one major weakness google does have is insufficient consideration towards privacy and security – it would be interesting to see if any of the competitors filling that turf do manage to take over Google's lead in the broader general public audience.

    Like

  8. Jesse hi

    Your friend Ali Akbar infringed Google's trademark by registering googleappsengine.com, especially when Google App Engine is a Google service. To state that “Google apparently forgot to purchase the domain” is a bit naive. Google does not need to register derivatives of it names (app or apps), just because some people may register them in bad faith.

    Like

  9. Constantine, exactly, just as my content is my content and Google does not
    have a right to be altering my content for display elsewhere – in the
    example I was agreeing with you. This is a double standard for Google,
    whether Ali was right or wrong.

    Like

  10. Jesse Stay
    CEO, SocialToo.com / Stay N' Alive Productions, LLC
    http://staynalive.com/consulting
    http://staynalive.com/speaking

    Co-Author, I'm on Facebook–Now What???
    Author, FBML Essentials

    Great point Andy. I guess I expect more of Google. I think in the end it
    has to do with what happens when someone “shares” my article. Is it shared
    in full text, and if shared in full text are my ads taken from the articles?
    If I choose to import my articles that is a different thing than allowing
    someone to share the full text. It is an interesting point though. Now I'm
    a little bothered by that as well.

    Like

  11. Aaron, that would be fair use – I've licensed that content to you, the
    reader, to do as you please, so long as it's for your personal use. Just as
    you can rip pages out of a book, highlight it, black things out, you can do
    the same to my content as a reader.

    Like

  12. My point exactly. I'm reading your content. Google Bizz is doing the same thing, except their eyes aren't human. Google is under no obligation to keep the ads to your posts just as I'm under no obligation to do the same. They're not stealing your content, because you willfully put the content on Buzz, or wherever else, and they're giving attribution back to you, where the ads are present. Google has done no wrong.

    Like

  13. Google is not the reader – it is not fair use. Google is the distributor.
    Distributors have to live by the rules of the author. Twitter, for
    instance, enters an agreement with you, the publisher, as to how your Tweets
    are displayed. I never gave Google permission on how they can render
    content to you, the reader. It is completely wrong, from a legal
    perspective as well as moral.

    Like

  14. Andy, I had the same thought but when Jesse set up facebook he had a choice of which feed he used. He could have easily used feedburner's “summary burner” to limit the number of characters and force the interested readers back to his site.

    Buzz does not give you a choice, it auto-discovers the feed directly from your site. Your only option is to dumb down your feed for all users and risk losing subscribers or leave it the way it is!! I want options in Buzz, I shouldn't have to change my feed for everyone just to pacify Buzz.

    There was also a recent bug where Google reader displayed Full feeds from feedburner even though the summary burner was enabled. http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/reader/th…. I don't like how Google bugs only seem to affect users but don't impact Google. Have you ever seen a bug that credits us too much adsense revenue?

    I expect more from Google they should be better than this, after a while the oops get a little old.

    Like

  15. I should point out as this isn't obvious to most

    Google isn't currently allowing full indexation of the content as it gets buried in a bunch of javascript.

    Also this is just crappy Adsense for Feeds – if you use alternative advertising in the bottom of your feed items, or even in the top such as banners for Socialtoo or your book, that won't be stripped out as long as it is static content… plus if it is a banner it would ensure a nice image with every post.

    Like

  16. A few years ago I tried fighting the “good fight” with Google over Google Reader sharing, as it has always sucked and always will until such time as the conversations get back to bloggers that allow their content to be shared.

    I was arguing for ways to prevent sharing of copyright material within the meta data of each item of content. Facebook at the time had a way of doing it invented by Bloglines, but that was still feed based… and the data was stripped out by Google.

    My Feedburner still provides an interface to turn off indexation and access by pipes – a pity everything ignores it and strips it out too.

    What google needs is item level support for something like the Bloglines Feed Access Extension
    http://andybeard.eu/968/open-social-web-google-

    The reason in some ways I am positive about Buzz is I feel Google will be forced to support access controls.

    Like

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  18. I have a beautiful small bag. It is yellow, red, and blue, and there's a picture of interesting picture: it is the young goats on driving, the small white rabbit holding a carrot in tease little goats, The little sheep is like the carrot, but it wants to: I'm driving, if I go to eat carrots, will be an accident, so I will concentrate open car, then eat turnips. discount ugg boots

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  19. I have a beautiful small bag. It is yellow, red, and blue, and there's a picture of interesting picture: it is the young goats on driving, the small white rabbit holding a carrot in tease little goats, The little sheep is like the carrot, but it wants to: I'm driving, if I go to eat carrots, will be an accident, so I will concentrate open car, then eat turnips. discount ugg boots

    Like

  20. I think Jesse's right on that. The one major weakness google does have is insufficient consideration towards privacy and security – it would be interesting to see if any of the competitors filling that turf do manage to take over Google's lead in the broader general public audience.

    Like

  21. I see your update, Jesse, but I have a follow up question for Google. Is Google Buzz at all going to be receptive to letting content publishers choose how much of the post they want Buzz to access? I don't mind having full feeds via RSS, but I do have a problem with Buzz copying my ENTIRE posts. I'd rather give them a snippet and then get the traffic I deserve.

    Like

  22. I certainly thought it odd when I noticed the full text of articles right in Buzz.

    As we've seen with some other aspects of Buzz, Google doesn't seem to have thought this through. I don't get the impression that they're outright trying to deprive you of revenue, but make life easier for the reader.

    Your solution of taking down the blog feed only works part way, and perhaps not to your advantage. There's nothing really to stop anyone else from posting the RSS feed form your blog, and causing that content to still be viewed in Buzz (and thus not monetized by you).

    Better, I think, to rally the troops and get the Google to change the product to accommodate the content producers that make it viable.

    Seems not as sensible to deprive yourself of readers (and therefore future income) while haggling over “small change” (It could be adding up, but which adds faster, the future income from increased readership, or the lost revenue in the now?)

    There's no reason they can't pull in the feed with the ads. The Google knows plenty enough about the internet to know when a feed is Your Blog, regardless of who posted the feed. They could even put the ads back in if the user that posted the feed strips them out some way.

    Futhermore, the Google has already moved quickly to change the product given sufficient user uprising – the product is in an early enough stage, and likely significant enough to the overall strategy that they're really likely to go all out to see that it succeeds.

    I think it's more realistic to see ads in a “news feed” than to not see them (and I'm actually often interested if they're placed right). There's absolutely no reason why both the content producer and the Google should not benefit from this.

    Like

  23. […] Loading….. BlogBuzzAbout Contact Older Post » Jesse Stay hits the Copyright Wall Feb 25 2010 06:14:24 PM Posted By : Dan Morrill Comments (0) Jesse Stay is one of the better people to follow on the internet and his writing is always interesting to read, plus he also owns Social Too and has written two books as well. Jesse is no stranger to generating content, startups, and some generally interesting reading on his blog. What has apparently happened is that Jessie has noticed that Google is stripping his ads off his RSS feed, shoving his full content into Buzz, and then monetizing the content without Jessie getting a dime. As he states on his blog today To be clear, I’m fine with them either displaying the ads that I put there (and allowing me to monetize off the other ads that are on the page), or just summarizing the article and encouraging users to click through to my site. I’m not okay with Google scraping my content, stripping my ads, altering my content, and pushing it out for them to get 100% of the revenues off of something I spent time and money making. Source: Stayin’ Alive […]

    Like

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