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national public ridicule

At least someone is being clearheaded about the whole NPR linking flap. Personally, I stopped noticing when big companies spouted nonsense about the web a long time ago. They'll come around. They always do.


Still, in all this hoo-ha, an important distinction is getting lost. There is a difference between linking and framing. The much-maligned NPR form confuses the two by lumping them together, but any smart webhead knows there's a difference between simply linking to a page and framing its content in another context.

An even more pressing concern for a radio website is linking directly into audio streams. I can take a .ram file from NPR and put it on my site. That way it looks like it's mine to the user, and when they click on it they get an NPR audio stream without ever going to NPR.

Now, maybe that's okay and maybe it's not. But shouldn't that be up to NPR? Imagine if the NPR form was asking permission to replay their programming on a local station. It doesn't seem so crazy then, right? See, that's exactly how NPR is looking at it. They're only half right, of course. Linking to a page is not distributing content. But linking into an audio stream is. It would help if NPR could differentiate between the two.

It's clear that the people at NPR need to buy a clue about the web. (And, hey, I'm available for consulting!) But it's also clear to me that the hysterical reaction is a little overblown. The form is mostly wrongheaded and silly, sure, but it's not entirely without merit. After all, it is NPR's content. Shouldn't they have the right to ask how it gets used? If you listen to and enjoy their content, can you not at least devote a moment of thought to their wishes? Don't we owe them that much?

{ 12:24pm }


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