Tag Archives: NewsNow

paidContent:UK: Times Online blocks news aggregator Meltwater

Following its decision in January to block the NewsNow news monitoring site, Times Online has blocked fellow news aggregator Meltwater.

Meltwater is the only aggregation service that has not complied with a new system introduced by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) at the start of 2010, which includes charging sites that crawl newspaper websites and use this information as part of a commercial service to clients.

Meltwater is taking the NLA to a copyright tribunal and on Monday was told its challenge would go ahead with a procedural hearing in June 2010 and a trial in February 2011.

Full story at this link…

News International steps up blocking of aggregators

Last week Journalism.co.uk reported that Times Online had blocked news aggregator NewsNow from crawling its website.

And now News International has followed suit with its other UK sites, News of the World and The Sun (hat tip to Malcolm Coles for alerting us to this development). Both are now blocking NewsNow’s crawlers.

Last month NewsNow dropped links to the sites of 18 newspapers publishers from its subscription service ahead of the introduction of new charges by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) for aggregators and media monitoring services using newspaper website links in their paid-for services. Links to the Times’ site were not dropped however.

The aggregator also claimed it was facing legal pressure from newspaper groups to remove links.

Last week Struan Bartlett, managing director of NewsNow, made his feelings on NI’s decision clear:

NewsNow and other aggregation businesses will ride the wave, but I am concerned that key freedoms people enjoy, to access publicly available information on the internet using an independent search engine of their choice, are being eroded

But in a statement given to Journalism.co.uk, News International’s reasons for blocking the aggregator hinge on the use of links to its websites within NewsNow’s paid-for service:

NewsNow has been using Times Online content as part of its paid-for, commercial as well as free services. They have continued to do so despite our direct requests for them to stop. As a result, we have taken the decision to disallow their indexing of our content. News International makes a significant investment in journalism and we believe that it is entirely appropriate for us to ask that our rights are respected. NewsNow has acknowledged that they require our permission to use our content and, in the absence of our permission, has ceased to do so.

NLA suspends payment of new link charges for aggregators

Yet another twist in the ongoing dispute over new charges affecting media monitoring services and aggregators introduced by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) this year.

From 1 January the NLA started charging sites, including aggregators, that link to newspaper websites and articles as part of their paid-for services.

The organisation, which is owned by eight UK national newspaper publishers, is only targetting commercial services so as to recoup some revenue from the use of newspapers’ online content.

But the NLA has announced it will suspend invoicing for these charges until the results of a copyright tribunal. The NLA has been taken to the tribunal by Meltwater, the Norwegian-owned media monitoring firm that has not agreed to the NLA’s new system, is taking the NLA to a UK copyright tribunal, arguing that it is equivalent to a stealth tax and not supported by English law.

“Meltwater’s position is that end users do not need a licence to simply receive links and read articles on the NLA’s members’ websites, and we welcome the NLA’s reasonable and proportionate response to the issue now being before the Copyright Tribunal,” said Jørn Lyseggen, CEO Meltwater Group, in a statement to Journalism.co.uk.

If the tribunal finds in favour of the NLA, the agency will backdate payments to 1 January 2010. The date for the tribunal has not yet, but an NLA spokesman said the agency hoped it would be completed by the end of the year.

“We are confident that the copyright tribunal will recognise our web licensing scheme is measured and reasonable. But we do not want any licensed users of newspaper web monitoring to be disadvantaged by Meltwater’s action. Clients of all
monitoring agencies should be on a level playing field. We have therefore decided not to invoice clients for their web licence until the copyright tribunal process is complete,” says David Pugh, managing director of the NLA, in a release.

Meltwater is one of only a small number of services that have refused the NLA’s new fees. News aggregator NewsNow was forced to drop some links to newspaper sites from its paid-for aggregation service as a result of the new system and last month 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.

Commenting on the NLA’s decision to suspend invoicing, Struan Bartlett, managing director of NewsNow, said: “‘Measured and reasonable’ are the last two words I would choose to describe the NLA web licensing scheme. One might read it that this move by the NLA indicates they think there is a risk that they will lose the case, and that in that event they would not want to be burdened with having to repay fees wrongly claimed from businesses.”

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

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.

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 Journalism.co.uk 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.”

Journalism.co.uk 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.