Idiot or Genius?

I can’t tell which Samuel Clay, creator of NewsBlur is.

What is NewsBlur, you ask? Its creator says it is an RSS reader, but better:

Join NewsBlur for $24/year and discover what RSS should have been.

I say it is a tool to engage in massive amounts of copyright infringement by stealing material from anyone and everyone in order to resell it for a profit.


RSS feeds are great. They allow users to be alerted to new content from sites so they don’t have to check the sites periodically. Also, RSS readers allow users to view updates from many sites in a single location. That’s very convenient.

But it’s not an inherent right. Site owners are not obligated to create RSS feeds. They aren’t obligated to put all updates into their RSS feeds. They aren’t required to make the updates they do put in their RSS feeds complete. It is always the content producer’s choice how much material, if any, he or she wants to put into an RSS feed.

Many content producers prefer to give users a preview in the RSS feed so they can see if they’re interested. If so, they can go to the site and see the full content. This is convenient for both parties. Users like it as it allows them to quickly look for material they’re interested in. Content producers like it because they still get hits at their site (possibly generating revenue or producing other benefits).

Samuel Clay thinks that’s bad. He thinks “RSS should have been” something different. He thinks it should have been a tool to steal content from the people who produce it. Look at the image below:

NB_Home_Page

That’s the home page of this blog. Only, if you look at the URL, you see it isn’t mine. It’s NewsBlur’s (http://newsblur.com/reader/page/5338130). Why is my home page on NewsBlur’s server? Because Samuel Clay stole it. He says:

NewsBlur defaults to Feed view, which is the plain ol’ RSS feed from a given site. (You might recognize this look from Google Reader.) But we know a lot of people enjoy reading in the original design and typeface of a given site, which is why we also offer Original view (which shows the entire original site)

But this is a lie. Original view does not show “the entire original site.” It shows a copy of the site Samuel Clay stole. And if we go by the number assigned to my site, he has done this millions of times.

He doesn’t have permission to do this. He doesn’t have any right to. It’s copyright infringement, pure and simple. And he’s making a business out of it. He’s making a good amount of money off this. And he’s doing it publicly. He’s engaging in a massive amount of copyright infringement, and he makes no effort to hide that fact.

There are a lot of other issues and details to discuss about NewsBlur, but for the moment I want to just focus on one: Is Samuel Clay an idiot or a genius? He’s exposed himself to the threat of thousands upon thousands of lawsuits, which normally would seem idiotic. However, he’s managing to get away with a massive amount of copyright infringement by doing it in full, public view. That seems like a stroke of genius.

Or is it perhaps possible to be so idiotic your idiocy is indistinguishable from brilliance?


(h/t to lucia at The Blackboard for first getting me interested in NewsBlur.)

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