Aggregator NewsNow says publishers seeking court injunction to stop linking

In an open letter to publishers last week, news aggregator NewsNow claimed its service is under threat following legal pressure from UK newspaper publishers.

Speaking to at the time, managing director Struan Bartlett said almost all of those publishers named and regional newspaper group were putting pressure on the site.

Some publishers have demanded compensation for the site’s links to their content rather than a revenue share, he added.

Today Bartlett has published a ‘free linking’ Q&A outlining further details of the site’s deteriorating relationship with newspaper publishers.

In the post, Bartlett lists the publishers threatening action against the aggregator and says a number of publishers are threatening to seek a court injunction that would stop us linking if the site doesn’t accept proposed charges and controls.

“It is true that news providers perform a critical public-interest role, something we are dedicated to supporting. But the role of news aggregators, as platforms that enable people to locate news and that support a competitive market in news providers, is today equally critical to the public interest,” says the Q&A.

“The impact of the publishers’ proposed charges and controls on link aggregation services like ours is not in the public interest or compatible with newspapers’ stated desire to safeguard journalism and to protect freedom of expression, freedom of communication and access to news.” also heard from the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) in response to our report on NewsNow’s open letter last week. A spokesman said the NLA supported NewsNows’ non-commercial services e.g. free feeds to consumers.

“We want links back to publishers’ sites and understand their centrality to the internet,” he said.

With regards to NewsNows’ commercial activity e.g. its bespoke feeds for clients, the agency said it is seeking to ‘license and legitimise this activity – not stop it’. In June the agency announced that it intends to start charging web aggregators for a licence permitting them to use links to newspaper articles.

“The NLA believes a legitimate and thriving market in web cuttings – with fair shares for content creators and distributors – will be better for all,” the spokesman said.

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