Content ownership, fair use and attribution

There is a very lively debate between a blogger, Jason Calacanis and the CTO of Skweezer, a "Web
portal that reformats Web pages, searches, and e-mail for handheld
devices, such as PDA's, smartphones, and most XHTML-enabled cell

At the heart of the discussion is the fair use of content. Jason's complaint is this:

"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.
a whole other thing to take your entire feed, wrap your own ads around
it, and try to sell a service on top of the content!"

See Skweezer's version of as an example.

Jason goes on...

"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"

A detailed explanation of what Skweezer does and how it does it is provided on blog posting by Barnabas Kendall, CTO of the company. In the same blog posting called 'Why Skweezer is good for Content Publishers', Barnabas tries to explain the company's position:

"Here is a quote from Jim Elve,
which he permitted me to reproduce here, and I think illustrates a
content producer's frustration with Skweezer at first glance: "The
content on my site represents thousands of hours of work. That work is
copyrighted. You are displaying my intellectual property on your site.
You are stripping my ads from my content. You are displaying your ads
with my content. The ad revenue you are receiving is, indeed,

Barnabas goes on...

"First, the Skweezer service does not interfere with a publisher's visibility of their audience, except for IP address. Publishers will serve the same HTML content traffic
(and slightly less image traffic), hit for hit, which they would
otherwise serve to these mobile browsers, except that these mobile
browsers can actually view and experience the content. Also, nowhere does Skweezer explicitly remove advertising,
unlike a pop-up blocker. Images are removed in accordance with view
mode and size constraints; many advertising images remain intact. The
fact that text ads do not show is a by-product of JavaScript being
removed, not some malicious intent to steal content. How is this
different than someone browsing a site with images and JavaScript
turned off?"

not sure whether Jason has been pacified or not by Skweezer's genuine
efforts to explain how the service works, but there are a number
of questions that concern bloggers / content creators in

  • When is it ok, is it ok to render content dynamically/statically created by another author on another site/service?
  • What is fair use, what is not?
  • Is
    it ok to take snippets of others' content and republish (as I have done
    above)..if so, how much is content is too much...10%, 50%, 80%,
  • If you do use a snippet, should you link to original source? (personally I think this should ALWAYS be the case)

Anyway, if you are introducing any friends to blogging, point them to a little blogging etiquette advice from Cafe Mama and Seton Hill.