Posted by Mr. Q at 6:00 AM Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Dear Rich: I've already made an app that feeds RSS feeds from SkySports and goal.com. The app informs people on the go about their football team. I'm about to change the app slightly and putting more work into it. I'm thinking about selling it for 1 pound. Would this be copyright infringement because I'm making a profit (or am I just feeding people the infomation from the direct source, that is, skysportsnews.com and goal.com)? Start by considering the two extremes of RSS feeds apps. On one end you have RSS reader apps like Xnews. These apps don't infringe because they are simply providing access to a variety of feeds. On the other end you may have a news app that pulls feeds from a few specific news sites and reproduces the material within the app. This is more likely to be copyright infringement because it is reproducing specific RSS feed content for readers, as well as trademark infringement because it is confusing consumers as to the source of the material. (BTW, we wrote about this issue about six months ago.) Your app seems to be somewhere in between these two extremes (and the fact that you are charging money doesn't affect the determination). The more you move away from the reader model where the user chooses the RSS feed and gets unadulterated content, and the more you hype the name of the company supplying the feed, the more likely you will run into problems. In your case, reproducing content from two specific feeds (whose trademarks are featured) could trigger a cease and desist letter.