All posts by Richard

With the versalility and portability of RSS feeds comes a greater ability on the part of third parties to easily copy your content by, for example, republishing it on another website. However, the publication of an RSS feed does not mean the copyright owner relinquishes its rights in the literary, audio or video content that the feed conveys.

Although the issue is untested in New Zealand courts, in my view the legal position is that the production and making available to the public of an RSS feed carries with it a licence (sometimes express, sometimes implied) to anyone using the internet that they may subscribe to that feed in any personal feed reading application (whether in the nature of a desktop feed reader, web-based feed reader, personalised homepage or otherwise), but no more unless the copyright owner expressly says so by way of more encompassing licence terms. In particular, the mere making available of a feed does not convey any right for third parties to, for example, re-syndicate the full feed content (i.e., item titles and full item descriptions) on their own website. Read more…

Questions raised at the design stage or later on in a site’s lifecycle are likely to include whether to make email notifications of new content available to users and whether to produce RSS feeds as an alternative notification mechanism. These questions may give rise to some or all of the following issues:

  • whether there are any implications flowing from the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007;
  • possible copyright implications of publishing your own or your organisation’s content via RSS or Atom feeds, in terms of proactively protecting copyright in feed content from resyndication or, if you wish, positively allowing such resyndication; and
  • possible copyright and trade law implications of resyndicating others’ content (e.g., from or via feeds) on your own or your organisation’s site.

I’ll endeavour to tackle each of these in turn. Because there’s quite a bit to say on these issues, I’ll spread the three bullet points across three posts. This post deals with the first. Read more…


This third post in the series entitled “Your own or your organisation’s sites” addresses the issue of content moderation. While that issue is related to content creation, it is considered sufficiently significant to treat as a subject in its own right.

Moderation decisions

Preferably before the site is launched, a decision needs to be made as to whether to moderate user contributions and, if so, how. There are three potential approaches:

  • not to moderate at all;
  • moderate before user-generated content goes live on the site; or
  • moderate after user-generated content goes live on the site (either across the board or by way of spot-checking).

This decision can be usefully informed by considering the nature of the site, those likely to use the site, the risk of hostile or abusive comment or an influx of spam, potential commercial or political ramifications and whether there are any particular categories of users that may need protection (e.g., children).

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This second post in the series entitled “Your own or your organisation’s sites” addresses some of the legal issues that can arise in the context of content creation.

Depending on the context of one’s social media site, there are potentially a number of issues relevant to the creation of content on the site which ought to be considered prior to launch, including:

  • terms of use;
  • an appropriate privacy statement; and
  • if the site is an organisation’s site, the appropriateness of staff contributions to the site and whether staff contribution guidelines are desirable.

While the area of placement of terms of use and privacy statement may also be relevant at the site design stage, they are discussed under the heading of content creation because, in legal terms, they are more closely related to the creation and use of content.

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The first post to this blog promised three series of posts addressing what I see as the principal legal issues that can arise in the context of three different kinds of sites, namely, your own or your organisation’s sites, employees’ sites, and other third party sites over which neither you nor your employees have direct control. This post marks the beginning of the first series of posts on your own or your organisation’s sites.

When considering such sites, it may be helpful to look at the legal issues arising at four stages of the site and content lifecycle. Those stages are site design and set-up, content creation, content moderation and content distribution.

In this post I’ll address site design and set-up. Future posts will address content creation, content moderation and content distribution.

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Creative Commons is a good thing. It is good for individuals, non-profits and commercial players alike. And here’s something I hadn’t thought of much before. It’s good for schools. This set of slides by Australian-based Mark Woolley provides food for thought on that front. In keeping with the nature of his presentation, Mark has made it available by way of a CC Attribution Non-Commercial License. (The hand-drawn image here by karindalziel is licensed under a CC-BY 2.0 (generic) licence. Thanks Karin!)

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For those new to the legalities surrounding podcasting, there’s an interesting and well-presented rundown – albeit from a US law perspective – on the Creative Commons wiki. Some of it may need to be treated with a measure of caution given differences between US and NZ law, but it provides a good outline of the sorts of issues to be considering.

In the forthcoming series of posts on legal issues relevant to your or your organisation’s social media site, I’ll use the phrase “social media sites and tools” quite often. As such, I thought it best to explain, up front, what I mean. For many, what follows will be a statement of the obvious, but for others at least some of it may be new.

The phrase “social media sites and tools” refers to the likes of blogs, wikis, RSS, social bookmarking sites, RSS feed manipulation and parsing tools, feed creation tools and embeddable multimedia; in essence, all manner of sites and tools that enable and facilitate online interaction, sharing and collaboration.
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