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The FeedPass Conundrum

Feedpass debuted last week — another landing page service for your blog, but with an added twist in the form of advertising.  Feedpass excerpts your feed, wraps it inside a pretty page with a bunch of tagging features, and puts a strip of Google advertising on the right hand side. You can see what my feed looks like here. They then split the ad revenue with you, 2/3 if you are the owner of the feed, or 1/3 if you are not, but are providing that feed to your readers somehow.  Here’s how it works:

  1. If you create a FeedPass feed for a blog, publish that FeedPass feed, and others click on the advertising wrapped into that feed, then you, as the creator of the FeedPass feed are entitled to credit for 1 of every 3 clicks on advertising in the feed.
  2. If you are the owner of the feed created in step 1, and then claim that feed, you are entitled to credit for 2 of every 3 clicks on advertising in that feed.
  3. If you are the owner of the feed created in step 1, and someone else creates an identical feed, or points at your feed, then you are entitled to an additional to credit for 1 of every 3 clicks generated in this fashion. 

And that is where the line potentially gets crossed.   You see, with FeedPass, anyone can create a feed for any blog anywhere, which FeedPass will monetize and pay 1/3 of the revenue to the creator of the feed. The owner of the blog that provides the content for the feed is not part of the picture, at all, unless they have claimed that blog. Because FeedPass only publishes excerpts, they are covered by fair use, so it’s not a copyright violation for them to do this, nor does it violate the Create Commons license I’ve attached to my feed.  But:

  1. What is to stop a FeedPass click-fraud network from being set up?  It would not be as lucrative as direct click-fraud, but with one or two levels of indirection it would likely be much harder to track down. 
  2. What would stop someone from creating multiple feeds for some of the very popular content on the internet, thus siphoning off revenues which legitimately belong to the owner of the content?  The benefit of FeedPass to small site owners is increased exposure.  But what if you’re Mike Arrington, or Dave Winer?

For now, I’ve claimed my blog.  It seems a prudent thing to do.  If FeedPass takes off, then I want my share of any advertising revenue they generate.  I’m not sure I’ll do more until then, though. 

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Hope May 21, 2006, 8:28 am

    “For now, I’ve claimed my blog. It seems a prudent thing to do.”

    That is the really creepy thing about FeedPass. It is stealing time from outstanding Web 2.0 bloggers like you and therefore harming us your readers. To wit, instead of your being able to spend your time researching and writing about neat Web 2.0 tools thereby enabling your readers to read what you have to say and your sending them off to happily try those tools out and, as a result of their investigations they end up adopting many of those tools, thereby becoming more efficient in their work, you have to spend time trying to prevent your work from being pilfered and profited from. FeedPass is a sort of Web 2.0 protection racket and is not good for information dissemination, no matter how Jim of FeedPass tries to sugarcoat matters.

    I like the tool. But the whole idea of FeedPass is a sort of Web 2.0 blackmail. “Work with me and I will give you part of the money I am making from your work. If you won’t work with me, I will facilitate the efforts of people who want to steal from you.” That is about the size of it, as far as I can tell.

    I do want tools that will enable me to set up RSS feeds for library patrons quickly and easily. I don’t want to have to clog their computers with Google dreck. Somebody out there: make an open source version of FeedPass immediately!


  • Alec May 21, 2006, 9:29 am

    Hope, I recommend Feedburner. It's not an open source Feedpass, but it has many of the same features, without the Google ads. And yes, I agree that their approach is a little creepy.

  • Randy Charles Morin May 21, 2006, 11:16 am

    Alec, sorry, but you are being entirely unfair. Google took off. How come you are not going after your share of any advertising revenue they generate?

  • Alec May 21, 2006, 1:09 pm

    The Google relationship is way more symbiotic Randy. Google helps people find my site, and pays me when people use the advertising Google places on my site. At all times, I am in control of my content. The same is not true of FeedPass. They are potentially stealing away traffic that I may have wanted to monetize in a different way, and not sharing that revenue with me, unless I agree to participate in their scheme.

  • Randy Charles Morin May 21, 2006, 3:05 pm

    First, FeedPass helps people subscribe to your blog. Symbiotic?

    Second, that's entire unfair. By your logic, nobody could possibly compete with Google, because they are not Google.

    More… http://www.technorati.com/blogs/saunderslog.com
    That page looks a lot like Feedpass.

    BTW, there's 1000 pages like Technorati's on the Internet. Some with ads, some without. Monetizing your content.

  • Alec May 21, 2006, 4:37 pm

    Your points are good. I'll have to think about that a little.

  • Vijay May 21, 2006, 9:30 pm

    I think at the end of the day, I want my content to stay where I put it and anything anyone wants to make out of directing people there is perfectly fine. But i've put too much time and effort into bringing my users to my page and I don't want them to get distracted.

    I visited the link and my first thought was… hmm… looks an awful lot like feedburner. And then I saw the other comments.

  • Hope May 21, 2006, 9:59 pm

    Alec: I just wish FeedBurner were a little more user friendly. I just want to be able to set up RSS feeds on my company's intranet, zip, zip, zip. I have to drill down too much in FeedBurner and even then I don’t grasp much of it. It needs to cater more to dumbbells.

    That was a good response to Randy, by the way. Then Randy makes the point that, “…nobody could possibly compete with Google, because they are not Google.” I think there is a difference between a search engine and basically hijacking an entire blog, which is what FeedPass seems to be doing.

    The brouhaha about FeedPass would be quite unnecessary if FeedBurner would simply make it very, very easy to use it to set up RSS feeds on intranets. Corporate and institutional worksites would loooove that (so would librarians). That way, they wouldn't have to rely on outside consultants or never explore RSS at all for fear of entanglement entangled with sleazy outfits like FeedPass with all their attendant copyright infringement hazards and penny-ante Google AdSense baggage.


  • mark evans May 22, 2006, 4:34 am

    i'm totally with you about feedpass – it's a questionable move by a company that otherwise has done some really interesting things with RSS and syndication. i tried to claim my blog yesterday as a defensive measure but the process was complicated – something about putting a string of number within the title, publishing it, and then taking them out, and republishing. there has got to be a simpler way to do it. frankly, i'm not sure why feedburner is taking this route. at least with google adsense, you have the choice of not participating – without having to worry about someone else claiming your blog for advertising real estate.

    cheers, mark

  • Alec May 22, 2006, 5:31 am

    Mark, Feedpass, and Feedburner are different companies, i think. If not, then it's all the more surprising.

  • Randy Charles Morin May 22, 2006, 7:03 am

    I love the way the blogosphere started. It was all about openess and how the current closed media sucked. Hello blogosphere! Things have changed. Now, the blogosphere is doing the same protectionist crap. I wonder how many of you have spoken out against the DMCA?

  • Randy Charles Morin May 22, 2006, 7:05 am

    Feedpass is not hijacking your feed. When you make statements like that, then I realize it's pointless arguing with you because you have already made your mind up. You are against Feedpass and prepared to say anything to validate your point.

  • Randy Charles Morin May 22, 2006, 7:05 am

    You are correct. Feedpass and FeedBurner are not associated.

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