Feed2JS and Spam
Feed2JS is a great tool for reusing RSS feeds on web pages. (See my May 2005 post, It’s Not Stealing, It’s Syndicating, for an overview.)
However — there’s always a ‘however,’ isn’t there — there is a fixable problem. If you run your own copy of Feed2JS on your own server (rather than using Feed2JS’s public version), unscrupulous folks can borrow your script — and your bandwidth — to repurpose other RSS feeds from other sites without your knowledge or permission.
I learned this the hard way when a copy of Feed2JS I manage at my workplace was “borrowed” by someone who was running a fake weblog designed to sell Google ads; the owner of this revenue-driven site was borrowing feeds from other blogs and using my copy of Feed2JS to reproduce them on his site. I was the unwitting intermediary in an unscrupulous, and possibly illegal, reuse of content. (Ironically, I was first made aware of this use of my copy of Feed2JS when another individual else whose commercial site devoted to hair-loss remedies complained to me that my Feed2JS was misappropriating his weblog content on a competitor’s blog…)
So how do you tell if your own version of Feed2JS has been borrowed? Look in the feed2js/magpie/cache/ and feed2js/magpie/cache_utf8 directories. There should be one file in the cache directory for each feed you use. The files have inscrutable names like “ad1cb3ddb313d3f10f9b7d50ec8da638.” There will be one for each RSS feed your script is monitoring. If you use Feed2JS to monitor three RSS feeds, there will be three files in the cache directory. If there are more files than there should be, your script has likely been borrowed.
Feed2JS.org offers directions for restricting Feed2JS to the feeds you want to be reused. With a bit of extra tinkering with the PHP, you can allow feeds from more than one server to be repurposed through your script.
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