Remember when the New York Times got upset about RSS reader Pulse making use of its feed? And Gizmodo wondered whether Flipboard was legal for the use it made of publishers’ content? The controversy is popping up again with iPad news app Zite.
Zite is a remarkable iPad application and I’ve been meaning to review it for a while now. Essentially, it’s a sort of “Pandora for news”—it looks at your social network feeds and, rather than aggregating news posts from those feeds like Flipboard, tries to guess what sorts of news you’d be interested in, and goes looking for it to show it to you.
As with Pandora, you can thumb up or down individual articles to get a more refined feed. It’s not perfect—for some reason, one of the articles it snagged on my first read-through was a two-year-old blog post about how the Kindle was just going to be a flash in the pan—but it has found me a number of stories lately that I’ve missed on my regular RSS feed trawls, so I think I’ll be using it a lot more often.
The way Zite works by default is that it reformats the content from articles, much like apps such as Readability, Instapaper, or Safari Reader, to make them more readable on the screen. A number of publishers don’t like this, however, since it can mess with the formatting of complex articles and, more importantly, often disposes of their advertising.
As a result, lawyers representing publications including Time, The Washington Post, McClatchy, E.W. Scripps, Getty Images, National Geographic, Gannett, Dow Jones, Advanced Publications and the Associated Press sent Zite an angry cease-and-desist letter complaining that Zite was unlawfully misappropriating and republishing their content.
Zite CEO Ali Davar responded on Zite’s blog, explaining that for outlets that request it or that use the “noarchive” meta tag,, Zite offers a “web view”, which displays the article in an in-app web browser view mirroring their appearance on the web.
We don’t look at this as an adversarial situation. If the formal cease and desist we received from the big publishing companies yesterday was a one line email from the world’s smallest blogger, we would treat it exactly the same: we would switch the content from reading mode to web view mode. That’s it. This is not our legal position, it’s just our policy. Zite is eager to work with publishers in a way that benefits everyone – most importantly end users.
It remains to be seen whether this will satisfy those publishers. After all, Zite is still profiting from using their sites’ content—but on the other hand, it’s now displaying it exactly the same as they do on their websites. It’s the same old question of who profits more: the aggregator or the aggregatee.
As Mathew Ingram points out on GigaOM, magazine publishers really should be paying attention to the innovative way in which apps such as Pulse, Flipboard, and Zite are displaying content in ways that make it more convenient for people to read.
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. Amanda Natividad notes at PaidContent that as a content producer, she doesn’t like the implications of what Zite and others are doing, but as a reader she enjoys it because it is so much nicer to look at.
Zite is a great new way to discover news of interest to me. My only complaint would be it doesn’t really have enough categories to be finely-grained in my interests that it represents (why is there a “Kindle” category but not a general e-reader one?), but it finds enough interesting stuff for me that it’s not really a problem.
Hopefully publishers will be satisfied with Zite’s willingness to change the way content is displayed in response to their requests. Zite is quite a useful app, and I’d like to see it stay around.
The Bookseller reports on surveys by Book Marketing Limited and Bowker Publishing Services.
The surveys show, in the UK, that 15% said that downloading a free sample of a book was an important reason for downloading. 23% said that the cheaper cost of ebooks was important to them.
Because free content is driving growth in the e-book market, Kelly Gallagher, vice-president of Bowker Publisher Services, said it was vital for booksellers and publishers to flag up information on other books alongside free online material. He said: “Consumers want something they can try before they buy. Any information you can put out there to see as they look for free content is important. Discoverability is essential.”
As of January 2011, more than 3.3% of British book buyers had bought an e-book, up from 1% in September 2010. In the US, 13% of book buyers bought an e-book in January 2011, up from 3.9% in February 2010. Jo Henry, m.d. of BML, said the UK is now a year behind where the US was in February 2010.
Despite three of the big four publishers implementing agency pricing last year, e-book pricing continues to be considerably lower than that of printed books. On average, e-books are being bought for less than half the price of a hardback, and two-thirds of the paperback price.
New Study: Libraries Embrace Digital Content in Face of Budget Constraints
At the very time that library budgets were being slashed, demand for the services provided by these institutions was increasing in the communities they served. Libraries have had to reprioritize and get creative with budgets. A new study called "Funding and Priorities: The Library Resource Guide Benchmark Study On 2011 Library Spending Plans," takes a look at how these pressures are manifesting ...
Read more on Information Today
App Store bans direct sales and outside content, is Kindle next?
Apple is clamping down on apps that sell outside content and provide access to content purchased outside the App Store. Wither Kindle?
Read more on ZDNet
Arc90 is implementing a major change in its article de-cluttering service Readability: it is going to a per month subscription model for continued use of the service. Of this , 70% will be set aside to pay the content providers whose advertisements get stripped out of pages by using it, and 30% will go toward funding the continued maintenance and improvement of the service.
The bare-bones “read now” de-cluttering service will apparently continue to be free (and in fact, it has even seen some interface improvements over the previous version), but subscribers will be able to save the article to read at a later time (as with the Instapaper app) as well. It’s not clear what, if anything, this will mean for iOS RSS reader Reeder’s support for Readability page-scooping in its iPad and iPhone versions.
Arc90 is adding some new features to go with this new fee, including being able to share the top domains you read every month. And content publishers can embed a readability button directly into their own websites. (I wonder whether it might be a good idea to add this feature to TeleRead?)
And Arc90 is partnering with Instapaper, producing an Instapaper-powered Readability iOS app that subscribers can download and use on their iPhones or iPads. (I’m not entirely sure why anyone would want to use this instead of using the original Instapaper app, which does essentially the same thing, however—especially if we’ve already paid for Instapaper.)
From the point of view of seeing that web content gets paid for, I can see how this might be an experiment worth trying. It seems like it’s going to act like a literary, streamlined version of the micropayment service Flattr—it apparently keeps track of the sites you visit and parcels out your subscription fee among those sites. It will be interesting to see if this proves helpful, or even noticeable, to sites such as Ars Technica whose execs have notably complained about people using ad-blocking or readability services.
When I first read this, I was ready to be upset over finding that a service I use every day was suddenly going to start charging. But it appears, on further investigation, that they will only be charging for additional reading convenience services while keeping the original de-clutter-it-now bookmarklet or Chrome extension free. Since that’s all I really need out of Readability, I can’t say that I have a problem with that. I’m not sure why I would want to pay a subscription fee for Readability when I can use Instapaper’s read-it-later function for free (barring the money I already paid for the Instapaper app), but that’s their problem.
And even if Readability should eliminate the free service in the future, Readability’s source code is freely available from Google’s source code repository—that’s how Apple was able to add it to Safari’s new Safari Reader feature—so there’s nothing stopping other people from creating their own free implementations of a website de-clutterer after the fashion of the original.
Apps Customize How Users Read Content Online
Applications like Readability and Read It Later are changing how people read on the Web, putting articles and blog posts into cleaner or more attractive visual displays.
Read more on New York Times
Springer Content Now Available Via DeepDyve’s Online Rental Service for Scholarly Publications
DeepDyve (http://www.deepdyve.com) today announced that Springer (http://www.springer.com) has agreed to make journal articles from more than 100 journals in key subject areas such as biomedical, public health, and business and economics available through DeepDyve’s online rental service for research articles.
Read more on PRWeb via Yahoo! News
Good E-Reader is live at CES and its tablet mania here, and who better to lead the content distribution for new devices then Kobo. The company is poised to increase its scope by securing deals with Blackberry and Freescale’s new Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering (SABRE) for Tablets based on i.MX53 running Android. By including the Kobo eReading App, OEMs have a simple path to meeting customer expectations for a compelling tablet reading experience.
Many OEMS turn to Freescale to quickly assist them in manufacturing cost-efficient tablets that feature powerful performance and processing capabilities. By including the Kobo eReading App, OEMs now have a simple path to meeting customer expectations for a compelling tablet reading experience. The Kobo eReading app will be demonstrated on the i.MX53 prototype in Freescale’s meeting space at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.
The new technology to be deminstrated today utilizes Freescale’s new reference design which uses the i.MX53 platform, which enriches the next generation of tablets through 1.2GHz of processing power, 1080P video output and 27 million triangles per second of graphics acceleration all driving a 10.1” 1366×760 LVDS Display with Capacitive Touch. Freescale’s new reference design is targeting availability Q1 2011.
“As the market-leading semiconductor vendor for eReaders and other smart mobile devices, Freescale is closely attuned to the needs of our OEM partners, who must bring to market not only a compelling device but also the right applications, backed by content that suits the tastes and preferences of their customers,” said Ken Obuszewski product marketing director for Freescale’s Multimedia Applications Division “Integrating Kobo’s exceptional eReading experience will help our OEM customers more easily compete and succeed in today’s competitive market.”
- Kobo and Swindon team up to bring Kobo Wireless e-Reader to Hong Kong
- Color E-Reader Coming in 2011 from Freescale & Liquavista
- Large self-publishing company signs deal with Kobo
- Kobo Introduces Reading Life for the Apple iPad
- Kobo Introduces Instapaper for the Apple iPad
- The Kobo e-Reader is now available at the Wallmart Website