Last Thursday, I posted an enthusiastic note about an iPad app called Zite. It enables you to create a customized e-magazine to read on your device (see: Zite as an Example of the Future of E-Magazines). In response, Mike Lougee posted this comment:
It appears that some of the big publishers, from whom Zite is using news content, are so unhappy that they're sending cease-and-desist letters to Zite. Presumably the smaller, non-commercial publishers that are described in this post are happy to be displayed via Zite.
Mike's alert was helpful and timely. Here's an excerpt from an article that provides more information of this issue (see: Note to Media: Don’t Fight Zite, Learn From It):
In an entirely too-predictable development, a group of media outlets has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the creators of Zite, a magazine-style aggregator for the iPad. The publishers allege that by pulling in their content and displaying it in a more readable way — that is, without a lot of the extraneous website elements, including ads — Zite is guilty of copyright infringement. While this may be true in a legal sense, it ignores the bigger picture, which is that readers are looking for better ways of consuming content, and they aren’t getting it from traditional publishers. Why not learn from Zite and others like it instead of threatening to sue them? ....Much of this is legal grandstanding, of course, since Zite is a tiny startup based in Vancouver, B.C.....But Zite isn’t doing anything that differently from plenty of other apps and services which are pulling in content from sites like the Washington Post and others named in the letter. Many apps that are essentially RSS-feed readers do this — including Pulse, which got slammed by the New York Times within hours of its public launch (see: Pulse iPad App Gets Steve Jobs’s Praise in Morning…Then Booted From App Store Hours Later After NYT Complains)....Readability is a web plugin that strips out advertising and other site features, leaving just text, and is so popular Apple built it into the company’s Safari browser as a viewing option. Why hasn’t anyone sent Apple a threatening letter about copyright infringement? Designer Marco Arment’s Instapaper does fundamentally the same thing — although he and Readability are also trying to use their services to generate income for sites through a kind of tip-jar model....The bigger issue here isn’t whether such apps and services are breaking the letter of the copyright law by reformatting content — it’s whether any media outlets are learning anything from what apps like Zite and Flipboard are doing, apart from how to file legal threats.
I can't add anything useful to this account. Zite is terrific as is Flipboard. Note to Big Media: this is the future of publishing. Tell your attorneys to relax and go out for a latte. Your next step is to buy Zite and learn from the 20-somethings who developed it how to present the news via an iPad or any of the many tablets that will be hitting the market soon. This is all about "readability" and "portability" of the news/opinion and mobile computing.