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NewsNow re-enters newspaper linking fight with campaign; Meltwater takes NLA to copyright tribunal

December 17th, 2009Posted by in Legal, Newspapers, Online Journalism

NewsNow, the online news aggregator which this week said it would drop links to some newspaper sites from its paid-for service, has now launched a campaign calling for search engines, aggregators and other websites to be legally protected when linking to other online material using a headline, short quote or summary with attribution.

The Right2Link campaign, while not aimed directly at the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) has no doubt been sparked by the ongoing dispute between NewsNow and the agency over its plans to introduce a licensing system for commercial services, such as aggregators, using links to newspaper websites from January 2010, which forced NewsNow to remove some links.

“Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, as well as other new economy businesses that act as portals and link aggregators, occupy a key role in identifying links that are of interest to be read and passed on.  They are a key part of the world wide web’s system of circulating information,” says a press release from the campaign.

The campaign also attacks representatives from print media groups that demand organisations obtain permission to use links to their newspapers’ websites.

But this isn’t what the NLA is asking for. It only wants to regulate areas where the newspaper links are being used for commercial gain and is a supporter NewsNow’s non-commercial services, for example its free feeds to consumers, it says.

Online media monitoring firm Meltwater, which is also signed up to the campaign but has not agreed to the NLA’s new system, is taking the NLA to a UK copyright tribunal arguing that the new system is equivalent to a stealth tax and not supported by English law.

“We use sophisticated search algorithms to help our clients find content they otherwise would have difficulties locating. The NLA’s attempt to license our clients is essentially a tax on receiving these internet links. This fee is not only unjust and unreasonable, it is contrary to the very spirit of the internet,” argues Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater Group, in a statement.

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