Are you using weather and news content on your digital signage? Do you know where this info comes from and is it licensed? Apparently that may or may not matter... Confused?
Although we use only licensed data feeds in our installs, many players in the industry do not. After-all, it's easy to pull an RSS feed from CBC.ca or the like and re-format the data for the screens. While there are great paid options (such as ScreenFeed
), many small companies prefer to save a buck or two it would cost to use the paid service. Are they committing piracy?
Apparently it's not clear, says Lorraine Fleck, an IP lawyer and trademark agent.
"There are potential exceptions to copyright infringement in the current Copyright Act under the fair dealing provisions concerning news reporting that may apply to digital signage and news reporting in the absence of other agreements, such as the CBC's T's & C's, provided certain conditions are met. However, the Canadian government is looking at reforming the Copyright Act
, so the legal landscape may change in the future. The government just
finished a consultation so it's anyone's guess at this point as to how the law will change."
This tells us 2 things: T's & C's of RSS feeds are instrumental in the legality of the data and none of this matters as we wait for one of the the oldest piece of IP legislation in the developed world to be reviewed. (The Canadian copyright act has not seen review since 1997, "four years before the introduction of the iPod.
It's interesting to note that CBC does have an official stance on use of their RSS content in digital signage: networks must pay - there's even a public price list, per screen, in volume tiered pricing.
Complicating the issue is the difficulty of policing the use of web RSS content in digital signs. Since digital signage software often uses an HTML page to format and present the RSS info, the result looks just as a web-page to the source of the feed. In fact, sometimes it's indistinguishable from a typical web page, save for larger than normal font size!
Where does tetrAD stand in this legalese landscape of free, unpoliced or uncertain? We believe its not just legal requirements that drive us to use licensed content. Our main concern is reliability and quality. When you are paying for content, you are notified when the feed address or properties change. When you are 'appropriating' a free RSS feed, your only notification is a blank screen or an error message. Do you want an error message associated with your brand onscreen? We don't!
If you have any more questions on legal issues surrounding the Copyright Act
, (we certainly do) Lorraine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
. We are not responsible for any legal fees though!