updated 08:00 pm EDT, Wed March 30, 2011
Content producers, publishers object to re-use
Although a number of apps for the iPad republish at least partial content from various sources' RSS feeds -- for example Pulse and FlipBoard -- the developers of the Zite "personalized magazine" app took a different approach: not getting permission to reformat and republish whole articles from their content sources, alleges a "cease and desist" letter from a collection of media companies, including Getty Images, the Associated Press, Dow Jones & Company, Gannett, The McClatchy Company, E.W. Scripps, National Geographic, Time Inc., The Slate Group and The Washington Post.
Unlike other similar apps, Zite does not make readers refer back to the originating site to read the full content. In the words of the letter sent to publisher Ali Davar (which is phrased much like a college lecture on copyright law), "to identify, research, create and distribute this sort of original content requires a substantial undertaking and investment. Our companies employ or contract with many thousands of people ... and we spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on our news and information gathering and reporting."
"By systematically reformatting, republishing and redistributing our original content on a mass commercial scale without permission in your iPad application," the letter continues, "Zite directly and adversely impacts our businesses." The letter goes on to say that the app is "plainly unlawful" and "your actions harm our companies and the broader media and news industry on which your application relies for its content."
The letter concludes by summarizing that Zite republishes both articles and images without permission, and further infringes the various companies' trademarks by implying a non-existant affiliation by featuring logos of the content providers on Zite's home screen. It finishes by saying that although the companies "welcome and support the advancement of new technologies that facilitate innovative uses of our content," those uses must be subject to agreements from the copyright holders in advance.
At present, the free Zite application -- which is exclusive to the iPad -- is still available on Apple's App Store, and the "cease and desist" was sent only to Zite rather than also to Apple. The magazine's blog has not been updated since March 16th. [via All Things D]