Someone has had to think of this already so maybe there’s a technical constraint I’m overlooking, but doesn’t it seem obvious that RSS is the perfect tool for helping establishing copyrights?
I’m increasingly of the opinion that the more you give, the more you get so it’s not like I want to go all AP on everyone but why shouldn’t we have a system that automatically records first-publisher status?
It seems to me we’ve already got all the tools in place to do this. Shouldn’t there be some central place we can RSS ping that would retrieve, compare for duplicates or near duplicates, datestamp, and archive online content?
Google may be the de facto provider such a service already. They already crawl, cache, compare, and datestamp the online world, so why not formalize and open up the process?
It would certainly improve Google’s results and add additional utility if they formalized this function by adding some type of notation within the search results that indicates that the piece of content in question holds the first-publisher status.
Throw on top of that publishing trail that would allow you to follow on a timeline where else that timeline was published, either in whole or in part by citiations.
Imagine how that would help anyone to track down the source and path of online rumors? Given the amount of slime that is being published online about Barack Obama, you can see how valuable such a feature would be.
Such transparency would immediately improve both mainstream and citizen journalism because of the relative ease with which it would allow people to validate content. In that sense, too, it would improve our democracy by helping to better inform the public.