App consisting of only RSS feeds?

edited August 2013 in General Discussion
Hi guys,

I'd like to crate a few simple apps, which would be populated with RSS feeds (news, reviews, videos, etc.), and maybe a link or two to websites, that I do not own.

Do you think these kind of apps are acceptable by Google and Amazon?

Google's TOS: Do not post an app where the primary functionality is to: 1) Provide a webview of a website not owned or administered by you (unless you have permission from the website owner/administrator to do so); 2) Drive affiliate traffic to a website (which I planned to do with AirBop).

Amazon's TOS: Do not post apps with no author content.

Well, while writing this post, I've checked out a very popular publisher of these kind of apps (I had it bookmarked) and he has only one app left, which is not based on RSS feeds. All his apps had 100.000+ or 500.000+ downloads. I guess this answers my question. Too bad. :(


  • I have some apps like this which I have had no problems with on Google amazon or opera. All the ones I have submitted to amazon have passed their checks.

    When I have had problems it has been with copyrighted names such as motoGP or f1 which you are not allowed to use in the name of an app. I also once used a club emblem in the app icon once which didn't go down too well.

    Some of the biggest apps like this, flipboard or pulse for example, or even htc sense only rehash other people's content in a clever way. As long as you acknowledge the source and don'try and pass it off as your own you should be ok.

    You could always ask permission, I had permission from both and who were both very accommodating and only insisted on a disclaimer stating no official afilliation
  • edited August 2013
    @ianmarkjen: Thanks so much for sharing this info! When you experienced problems with TM'd names, did the Google contact you, or the TM holder? Also, your account wasn't in danger of getting restricted?

    I was planning to release a few Samsung Galaxy guides/news apps, a few cheat / walk-through apps for popular apps etc. I've also found this about using TM'd names in app titles:

    you can generally do this, as long as you are also making it clear that
    you are "unofficial" and not in a partnership with the original
    trademark holder.

    Think of the "[X] for Dummies" books, like
    Microsoft Word for Dummies. There are plenty of examples. But all of
    these examples make it very clear that they are not the original
    company, since confusing people about that is the rule for whether it is
    a trademark infringement or not."

    I think this falls under the "Fair Use" of trademarks:

    This might also help:

    However, I would not use any copyrighted images. I have my own custom icons made for gudies/games. I would use only titles and explain that the app is unofficial.

    Please share your opinions and experiences. Thanks.
  • @hendixs The first time I got in trouble was over image rights rather than copyright. I used images that contained the emblems of English Premier League football clubs. The images I used were free to adapt under creative commons license and I cut out the club emblems to make into nice app buttons. I made the finished buttons myself and added elements only from CC licensed images but the actual English premier league complained to Google claiming that they had image rights over every premier league club emblem. Google suspended the offending apps but not my account. I argued back against the decision filling in the appeal form and sending Google the terms and conditions of the CC images I had used and links to them, showing that they were free to use and adapt for both commercial and non commercial use but so far Google have never responded and the apps are still suspended. 

    A lot of people who use images in wallpaper apps and the like are at risk from this. Even if you take the photo yourself, say of a professional sports person, someone could theoretically still own the image rights to that player and complain to Google who will simply take their word for it it seems.

    I have actually remade the apps I had problems with and used a generic button image and they are all still on the app store and on opera and on amazon with no further problems. I am now in a position where bloggers for football clubs have emailed me to ask me to add their blogs to my apps.

    Regarding names, you still need to be a bit careful. When I sent an F1 app I had made to F1 for approval before I published it they made me change the name so that it did not contain the word F1 or formula one or any combination. They were ok about linking to their sites and rss feeds etc as long as I published a disclaimer that they worded about non affiliation. motoGP are the same they will complain to Google if you use the word motoGP in an app without paying them for the privilege.

    Those are the only problems I have had so far. Having said that, there are loads of apps containing both F1 and motoGP in the title and loads containing EPL club emblems that have been up for a long time so it seems like pot luck. In my experience, Google will not bother you unless someone complains to them but then they will likely side with the complainant. Good Luck
  • edited August 2013
    @ianmarkjen: Thanks for taking time to explain all this. Yes, I totally understand what you say in the last part - some apps get deleted, some not, and it probably depends if a company or a person decides to complain.

    I will go extra conservative - I'll use only custom (generic) images and use names in titles, which are very popular, and are already around for some time (like Minecraft - they don't seem to care that much about this).

    I will probably open a new account for this, tho, I don't want to
    jeopardize my main account. I'll use a paid VPN to access it and a
    VirtualMachine or a different computer. It's just a safety measure.
  • Here is an interesting article on using RSS to display external website content (covers cases in US law only).

    Basically, if you are using RSS to re-distribute content from external sites, you are classed as an Aggregator.

    My take on this is that if you provide "Headline" and "Accompanying image" and may be a "Lede" (description or subtitle) and this directly links to the original article, then this method of "Aggregation" has the most favorable chance of being deemed as "Fair Use" in any court case.

    But hey, we are talking court cases... Be careful.
  • Interesting find and interesting read, thanks for sharing.

    I'm about to create one such app, and I used Google News for testing the RSS feed, but mostly there were no images included (only gray question marks).

    I'll try one of the other sources mentioned in another thread.

    Btw, there are a lot of apps on GP, which do nothing else, but show feeds from various RSS sources. This is not encouraged by Google, but for now, everything seems to be OK. One of the bigger devs who had 99% of his apps suspended is Drippler. All their apps were only RSS feeds.

    Anyway, as far as I understand, you can have RSS feeds, as long as you also provide some of your own content and that's what I plan to do. :)
  • Hi!

    Very nice analysis here. Thanks!
    I had some successful apps that used rss, podcasts and websites but when I read more about copyright I canceled them just in case. It is not easy to have permission to frame their website or rss because if we have adds I think it its commercial use...
    For example:
    "The Website must not be used in any other way, including for commercial purposes, and you may not otherwise reproduce, re-utilise or redistribute it, or frame or deep-link to it on any other website, without the prior written permission of the FAPL."
    Most of the rss feeds are for personal and non commercial use.
    I saw many apps that uses a disclaimer saying that they could remove the link if the owner wants. Do you think it is a legal way to do this?

    @ianmarkjen: have you sent the app for them to test or only an email / letter asking permission?

    Thanks again for your experience!

  • I use the Google's News RSS feed for certain words. However, in Andromo, I can't get the images showing, so I switched to text only. Could this be a problem? I run AdMob in that particular app.

  • casan9va I think if Google can aggregate via RSS, anyone can...  Until they're ever stopped we're ok.

  • @hendrixs if you can give me a Google News RSS link that you tried I can look into why the photos don't show up. We did update some code in 3.2.5 so you might want to try it again.
  • @hendrixs I checked out the feed and the feed is not a media feed at all. Some descriptions do contain img tags which we should be able to parse, however their format is slightly odd: //\

    I will look to see if we can do anything.

  • OK, thanks Mark.

    I'll try to create different RSS feeds in the future.
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