Skweezer and Copyright Infringement

    January 3, 2005

A lively discussion is bubbling on Jason Calcanis’ blog on the issue of how others use content you have produced where copyright enters into the picture and, in essence, what’s right and what’s not.

Here’s how it started as outlined in Jason’s post on 28 December:

“It’s one thing to take headlines. It’s one thing to take an excerpt – like the good folks at Google,, Feedster or Technorati do – to help people navigate.

It’s a whole other thing to take your entire [RSS] feed, wrap your own ads around it, and try to sell a service on top of the content!

That is exactly what just happened to us thanks to this website Skweezer. They have an interesting – but already available – idea: make webpages fit better on PDAs and phones. Great idea. We want readers to be able to read our content easily – no doubt.

However, their execution of this business idea is to take all of our websites and then:

  1. Republish them on their website
  2. Place their own advertisements on them
  3. Sell a “professional” version of their software based on our content
  4. Deny us the ability to track our page views and readers

These slimy folks over there then tell me that they are no different then Firefox!!!”

I think this is an extremely important issue, and I’ve dropped a few comments into the conversation on Jason’s blog with my 50 eurocents’ worth of opinion. This illustrates much of what I said in my article last week on copyright myths and creative common(s) sense.

Take a look at the conversation on Jason’s blog. See what you think. Add your views.

Neville Hobson post on Jason’s blog:

Stephen, what you’ve highlighted here is the simple inadequacy of current copyright laws. While I understand the points you’re making, I don’t agree with you in your broad view that my statement on common sense thoughts is inaccurate.

You say “We have already established that I have permission (albeit implicit) to read your content, right?” Well, yes, implicity – I cannot stop you reading my content if it’s published on a website. Indeed, if I publish it on a website, I want people to read it.

It’s what you actively do with it that’s the issue. The key word here is ‘actively.’ I’m not talking about things like browser cache – I’m talking about if you take my content and re-purpose it in some way without my permission and without recognizing my intellectual property rights over that content.

So if you wanted to do something with content that you find on my website, for instance, ask permission first if it’s not clear from my website what you can do. In the case of my blog, I have a Creative Commons license that’s very clear.

Here’s a good example of how common sense works. WebProNews ( re-publishes some of my blog posts. Before they started doing that, they asked my permission. I gave it. Crystal clear. We all know exactly where we stand.

It is simple.

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: