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Someone Smack the NY Times with a Cluestick

June 8, 2010 18:26:02.000

Oh, this is just awesome. The NY Times claims that the Pulse News Aggregator (iPod/iPad) "infringes" because it allows people to read their RSS feeds:

But by the afternoon, that flush of entrepreneurial success had turned sour, after Apple informed the two that Pulse was being pulled from the App Store after it received a written notice from the New York Times Company (NYT) declaring that “The New York Times Company believes your application named ‘Pulse News Reader’ infringes The New York Times Company’s rights.” In an unusual coincidence, the Times Web site was on prominent display on a huge screenshot of the iPad during Jobs’s speech.

It's hard to begin to criticize this, because there's so much stupid. First, the Times chose to make their RSS feeds available. Second, it's easily possible to configure access to an endoint based on the inbound request source - sure, that can be scammed, but most people don't know that. The bigger issue is the first one though - the Times made these feeds available, so it's not possible for an app that reads them to be infringing. It's sort of like putting a huge rolling sign with headlines in your window, and then yelling at any passerby who has the temerity to pause to read it.

The lawyer for the Times has a pretty stupid take on it:

“The Pulse News Reader app, makes commercial use of the NYTimes.com and Boston.com RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use*. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the NYTimes.com and Boston.com websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use.”

If that's true, then Safari needs to be yanked, since it can see RSS feeds as well. As does the Atom browser, and any other RSS reader in the app store - and when I searched just now, there were pages of them. When will the Times and this moron of a lawyer go after those, and Safari?

Update: Seems Apple has a clue. They reversed course, and put the app back. If and when they explain why to the Times, I hope they use small words.

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posted by James Robertson

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