Heal Your Church WebSite


Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

The Dark Side of Screen Scraping

* disclaimer * I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. The following is opinion and commentary and should not take the place of sound legal advice provided by a trained, experienced & licensed professional:

Yesterday, I unleashed Mean Dean’s VerseScrape 0.1. In the article I made some references to rendering unto Caeser what is his. Most of the readers here are pretty savvy, but for those confused by this reference, what I means in the context of this site and VerseScrape, is that you should give people credit for the content they provide.

Moreover, while it is very easy to provide cool content for your site with a tool such as VerseScrape, it is equally easy, and perhaps tempting, to ‘borrow’ content that does not belong to you. Let me put it do you this way, nothing blows our witness faster than intentionally breaking the law – and this one IS written in stone.

It reminds me of a church, who’s URL I won’t mention, that has ‘borrowed’ the meta tags of another site that was critical of the church. That was bright, not only did the church forfeit whatever moral high ground the possessed, but they essentially proved the critic’s argument that the church leadership was suffering from severe ethical deficiency! How stooooopid is that?

But, I’m not here to kvetch about burglers, but rather bunglers. Those times when we accidentally post copyrighted or trademarked material. For church web sites, it often includes (but is not limited to) illegal/unauthorized of images, sermons, news stories and midi/music. If you include any such content, or just want to be sure you’re church site is kosher, then I suggest being readers and doers of Ivan Hoffman’s Web Site Audit Check List. Then follow-up with doses of legal reality by visiting Ernie the Attorney‘s blog.

BTW, the VerseScrape and cron does work. Check out the right hand column of the home page of this site. Hopefully I am complying with both the spirit and the letter of the law as defined by the quoting of NIV Scripture clause in the IBS’ Proper Use Statement which states:

The NIV may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic or audio) up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without the express written permission …

And by the IBS’ statement on their Syndicated Resources page that reads:

“These services are free. We only suggest that you include the “Provided by” link included with the code.”

Don’t worry, just in case, I am in contact with the IBS. I’ll let you know their response.

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