News aggregator tells press: stop the legal threats

A leading news aggregator has told the national newspapers to listen to their own readers and stop sending it legal threats.

NewsNow has been on the receiving end of legal warnings from several leading newspapers, demanding that it stop linking to their site. NewsNow works on a similar prinicple to Google News, by aggregating the latest news headlines and linking through to the site involved.

Content owners are growing increasingly tetchy with news aggregators, including Google, claiming that they benefit from their content without contributing to the costs.

Accept you no longer have a virtual monopoly over the distribution of written news

However, in an open letter to the newspaper bosses, NewsNow’s managing director Struan Bartlett accuses the media giants of living in the past.

“We have had enough of indiscriminate attacks,” Bartlett writes. “To vilify all aggregators as ‘cheap worthless technological news solutions’ and ‘content kleptomaniacs’ is just empty rhetoric. Not only is that misleading — it is misguided.”

“Blame the internet”

Bartlett claims the newspapers are attempting to make news aggregators the scapegoats for the decline in print circulations. “The truth is, if anything, it is the growth of the internet itself – not link aggregation – that has undermined your businesses by destroying the virtual monopoly that you once held over the mass distribution of written news.

“If you are seeking to blame something for your current predicament, we suggest you start there. It is disingenuous to blame legitimate link aggregation websites like ours for your financial woes and it is misguided to attempt to control linking.”

The NewsNow chief wants the newspapers to drop the legal threats and commit to “upholding the freedom to link” to their news stories. “We’re in a new era now and there’s no turning the clock back,” Bartlett adds. “Readers are establishing new ways of finding their news — via linking. A business model that fights linking would be like fighting your readers and fighting the internet — surely destined to end in failure.

“We urge you to start listening to your own staff and readers. Accept you no longer have a virtual monopoly over the distribution of written news. Work with the Internet, rather than against it.”

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