Times banned NewsNow over paid-for links service

The Times has revealed that it has banned automated website NewsNow from linking to its content because Times Online headlines were being included in its paid-for services.

NewsNow claims to attract two million visitors a month to its website which aggregates news stories from around the web.

It revealed on Friday that News International had used the Robots.txt protocol to stop its computers from harvesting news headlines from the Times website.

At the time Struan Bartlett, managing director of NewsNow, said: “The freedoms to link and quote sources and compare and contrast reported views are press freedoms on which News International itself relies.

“Arbitrary attacks on news search engines therefore undermine press freedom, as well as the entire basis on which the Internet runs.”

However a News International spokesman has since told Press Gazette: “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.”

The row comes as the Newspaper Licensing Agency, the body which levies charges on press cuttings companies, seeks to charge those who make money by syndicating news headlines to paying clients.

The NLA was set to bring in new charges for such services at the start of this year, but it has suspended invoicing for these charges pending the outcome of a Copyright Tribunal case brought against it by the clippings firm Meltwater.

The NLA has said that the “vast majority” of press cuttings agencies and aggregating services had agreed to the new licensing structure and that Meltwater, a Norwegian company, was an exception.

The outcome of the Copyright Tribunal may in turn have ramifications for major news aggregation services such as Google News.

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