What is a way to copy blog content to allow for comments?
June 21, 2007 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Would it be possible to set up an automated way to mirror portions of posts from a popular weblog to allow people to comment on posts if the original writer does not have comments on his blog? Would this be illegal?

I read a couple of popular blogs that do not allow comments. I understand the personal reasons why the blogger might not allow them, but I think the world would be a better place if people could comment on and discuss these blog posts. I would like to run a a parallel blog which includes one post for each post they write that would only contain the first 4 or 5 words of their original post (so it could be identified by someone coming from their blog), a link to the original post, and a place to comment. I would like to do this with someone like Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan and would likely do it with blogspot or wordpress.com.

1) Would it be easy to set something up with RSS or Yahoo Pipes to take a post and republish it on my blog in the form of:

Post Found Here "First Four Post Words" [Place for Comments]

2) I realize you are not my lawyer, but does anyone have a sense if this would be covered under fair use or some other legal principle? It would be impossible for someone to get by only ready my blog, they would have to have visited the real blog first in order to understand the post, my blog would only be a place to comment on the substance of the original post. I wouldn't have any ads on the blog.

3) Does anything like this exist for any blogs, or has it been tried before, to anyone's knowledge?
posted by davidstandaford to Technology (11 answers total)
Overheard NYC and Savage Love do not have comment systems, but the RSS mirrors on LiveJournal have many active commenters.
posted by mkb at 11:16 AM on June 21, 2007

Someone did this with Kottke as well. So contacting either the someone or kottke himself might be a good place to start.
posted by nitsuj at 11:34 AM on June 21, 2007

I think it would be hard for someone who publishes text via RSS to then argue that you can't syndicate that text.

However, have you considered one of the web annotation applications? (eg Fleck)
posted by Leon at 11:50 AM on June 21, 2007

mkb: Those livejournal RSS feeds are very similar to what I would want to do, although for my purposes, I wouldn't want to have it based in livejournal (no offense to livejournal).

nitsuj: Regarding the kottke link, it appears that no one is using it anymore, as none of the posts have comments, and there wasn't the legal issue because such a comment mirror was authorized by kottke himself, which means I'm still curious about whether this would be fair use if the blog writer was hostile about my efforts.

Leon: Fleck to me seems to me to be fundamentally dissimilar from standard blog commenting, so I don't think it's what I want.

If anyone has a good answer to my technical question about how to syndicate a blog to automatically post a short snipped of each post with a link to the original post, I would really appreciate it.
posted by davidstandaford at 11:55 AM on June 21, 2007

You could install the LiveJournal software on your own box, and allow anonymous and openid comments, but that's probably overkill. There is probably some WordPress plugin that can do this, though.
posted by mkb at 12:05 PM on June 21, 2007

You could try installing Wordpress and the FeedWordPress plugin. This allows you to grab RSS feeds, do some manipulation and post automatically to a Wordpress blog on your server. I think it would be fairly simple to throw in a quote of the first few lines with a link to the original material and a note explaining you're not the original author. Not sure about the legal issues but if you're explicit about what you're doing and who the content belongs to I would think you'd be ok.
posted by JPDD at 12:50 PM on June 21, 2007

I am not a lawyer, nor do I have legal training, nor am I your lawyer; this is a layman's interpretation of American copyright law.

Unless a weblog owner has specifically released their content into the public domain, or has adopted a Creative Commons license permitting redistribution, Section 106(3) of the (United States') Copyright Act grants them the exclusive right of distribution. They own their words. You don't have a right to reprint them in whole or in part without their permission, unless they've already granted it using Creative Commons or the public domain. Fair use most definitely doesn't allow reprinting an entire post in full.

I think rulings in the RIAA's lawsuits regarding "making available" content may have some relevance, too.
posted by WCityMike at 12:57 PM on June 21, 2007

... You don't have a right to reprint them in whole or in part without their permission ...

Correction. Of course you have the ability to excerpt posts. Whether an entire blog dedicated to excerpting a blog would pass copyright muster is a separate question.
posted by WCityMike at 12:58 PM on June 21, 2007

I think it would be hard for someone who publishes text via RSS to then argue that you can't syndicate that text.

Bullshit. They hold copyright on their writings regardless of how they get the ascii to the reader's eyeballs (website, feed reader, etc)

I think this sounds like a bad idea. How about you look into one of those sites/firefox plugins that lets you "annotate" arbitrary websites? Everybody with the same plugin can see the comments you and others have added...
posted by misterbrandt at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2007

I am working on a project that does this exact functionality using Drupal and the Leech plugin. I am not working on that piece, so I am not sure if we've added some custom code or if it's out of the box.

If the FeedWordPress spec is similar, you may choose to use it instead, depending on your technical capability -- Wordpress has a much more straightforward setup.
posted by fishfucker at 3:01 PM on June 21, 2007

You might look at something like PennyPacker (like all thing Penny Arcade, there might be cussing), but the PA guys aren't too bothered by PPennyPAcker, from what I understand. someone else might feel differently about their stuff.
posted by pupdog at 3:28 PM on June 21, 2007

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