The New York Times pulls dumbass move after getting free Apple publicity

How is it that a leading newspaper with a global reach doesn’t get it. I mean here we have the New York Times competing with all the other big brand papers to establish a foothold on the Web and yet when an iPad app uses their publicly available RSS feed they get all pissed off and have it yanked from the Apple app store.

Not only that but they sent Apple the take-down notice on the same day that the app got high praise from no other than Steve Jobs during the WWDC conference keynote speech. I am of course talking about the Pulse RSS reader app that everyone who has used it has nothing but good things to say about it.

This action of course has lead to the take-down being the hot topic of discussion in the tech blogosphere this morning with just about everyone wonder what the hell is up with the New York Times.

From Kara Swisher at Boomtown

Kothari said that the pair plan to contact Apple in the morning and take steps to remove Times material from the feeds.

It is not immediately clear why they need to, since Pulse draws from publicly available Times RSS feeds, as do many other apps, and does no scraping.

In fact, Pulse is little more than a really well-designed RSS reader, which is what the Times said it was in its write-up. You add feeds to it and it visualizes them in a way that’s easy to get through.

From Charlie Sorrel at Wired

Pulse takes the plain text from the NYT RSS feed and displays it. If you choose to read further, it opens the actual NYT page in a new browser window which, like every other in-app browser, uses Safari’s webkit engine to display it. The person reading it is therefore getting the exact same content as they would if reading in Safari.

Clearly the NYT doesn’t understand the purpose of RSS.

From Mathew Ingram at GigaOM

It’s not clear why the New York Times decided to target the Pulse app, however, apart from the fact that it is (or was, until it was pulled) one of the most popular paid apps on the iPad. There are dozens of applications and services that do fundamentally the same thing as the news-reading app does, by pulling in the RSS feeds of media sites such as the New York Times — and many of them are paid applications, just as Pulse is. There are also many websites, including Yahoo and Google’s customized homepages, that allow users to embed RSS feeds from other sites.

The argument being put forward by the NYT lawyers boils down to a section of their Terms of Service when it comes to the newspaper’s RSS feeds

The Pulse News Reader app makes commercial use of the NYTimes.com and Boston.com RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the NYTimes.com and Boston.com websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use.

Well I hate to break the news to the NYT’s obviously overpaid legal counsel but this is how just about every RSS reader out there operates. Are they now going to start going after Google Reader or my favorite reader, FeedDemon, after all I paid for the licence to use it (or at least to remove the ad) which is no different that me buying Pulse from the App Store.

The funniest part of this whole thing – one of New York Times’ own bloggers gave Pulse high praise

Pulse is a stylish and easy-to-use news aggregator. Users select which news sources to follow and the latest articles are presented in a grid of texts and photos. Users can finger-swipe back and forth across various articles from a single news source, or up and down through up to 20 news sources.

This is definitely one case where the lawyers should have been lead back to their cage and told to shut up.

image courtesy of alphonsolabs.com