Use of external RSS feeds


We have a cool application idea that depends on aggregating content via RSS feeds from various external sites. While going through terms and conditions, we noticed that some of the sites have explicitly mentioned that their RSS feed is for personal and non-commercial use only. We are not going to pull and display the whole article/post on our site, but want to use title and a short description that is available in RSS feed and link it to the original site so that the users will be redirected there to read the complete article/post. We are currently trying to figure out if this approach has any legal/copyright issues or not as our site will be for-profit.

Is it safe to say that we will be fine as long as

  1. We don't pull and show the complete article, but just display the summary that is available in the RSS feed item.
  2. Send users to the original site to read the rest of the article/post.
  3. Provide opt-out option for the feed owner.

There are lot of online RSS aggregator sites that are pulling content from tons of RSS feeds. Do these sites try to make special arrangements with the each and every feed provider or do they just hope that they will be covered under "Fair Use" of copyrighted material? Are there examples where major online sites had to go through legal process because they were aggregating content via RSS feeds?


asked May 11 '10 at 08:05
164 points

2 Answers


Those sites generally do not get permission.

As an interesting example, take Google itself. They consolidate feeds (and whole, copyrighted pages) and republish with attribution and links.

A lawyer might tell you otherwise (and you should heed the lawyer over me), but generally it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission and all that.

In practice no one wants to sue someone who's actually helping them. If you're actually helping the content sources, great. (And I suspect that's the case.) If not, that's possibly immoral besides illegal.

answered May 12 '10 at 12:42
16,231 points


I suppose that most RSS owners won't object. You're driving traffic to their site and that's what they want in the first place. I'd be glad if you show my RSS feed. Maybe there are exceptions, but I can't think of one right now.

answered May 12 '10 at 17:09
111 points

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