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Summary:

An interesting development in the battle over free content… Times Online, Rupert Murdoch’s flagship quality UK paper, has blocked UK web a…

An interesting development in the battle over free content… Times Online, Rupert Murdoch’s flagship quality UK paper, has blocked UK web aggregation service NewsNow from linking to its content.

The background: Eight national UK newspaper publishers, through their Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), on January 1 began requiring license payments from news monitors who copy their articles in order to provide alerts and links to PR firms…

Though Murdoch’s UK subisidiary News International is part of the NLA, it had not joined its web licensing scheme – but it’s now effectively taking the same action, choosing to strike its own syndication deals, as News Corp.’s wider paid content mission steps up.

Does the move herald a more aggressive stance toward aggregators in general? Rupert Murdoch is on record as saying all such operators will no longer get to “steal” its content, and has been linked with unconfirmed attempts to leverage Bing as a distributor instead of Google.

NewsNow managing director Struan Bartlett writes on his site that “the blocking has been technically implemented via the robots.txt protocol” – the same method observers, including Google (NSDQ: GOOG), have been saying for months that publishers like News Corp (NYSE: NWS) could easily use to block the likes of Google News.

Times Online will be one of the first News International sites to go behind the paywall this Spring, with a spin-off Sunday Times site to follow. The coming months may well see News International block more paid aggregators, though the NLA’s parallel licensing stipulation does not apply to free consumer aggregators because they do not charge users, the NLA earlier told paidContent:UK.

“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,” wrote a spokesperson from The Times in an email to paidContent:UK today. “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.”

  1. First of all, I think if you did some research you’d find that News International is in fact one of the 8 National publishers who own the NLA.

    Second, your comment regarding the irony of the link working from NewsNow’s site shows your complete lack of knowledge regarding this issue. Robots.txt blocks spiders and search engines from ‘crawling’ a website. It has nothing to do with hyperlinks embeded in an article.

    Perhaps you should spend a bit more time researching issues before attempting to write about them. This is poor journalism.

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  2. Your link goes to a domain squatter – the URL is newsnow.co.uk. Thanks News Corp for the PR, I wouldn’t have heard of NewsNow.co.uk if it wasn’t for this!

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  3. @PRGuy, @Brendan – noted (thanks). Corrected and corrected.

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  4. i have no comment on the underlying story, but it’s been snowing in MI for the past several hours which makes that url look like “new snow” vs. “news now” to me!

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  5. I’m mystified by what is essentially an exercise in semantics and hubris on Murdoch’s part. Whether NewsNow has to “copy” the articles of these sites in order to index them is redundant if they don’t *actually* reproduce that content in full on the NewsNow site. All I’ve ever seen them do is provide the headline and the link to the publication’s website which, in terms of attracting free traffic, is a no-brainer if I’m a publisher of content on the Web.

    For me, NewsNow has been an indispensable aggregator of targeted news links (in my case soccer news) for years and I couldn’t begin to calculate how many links to these NLA publications’ sites I have made from their service that I would not have otherwise made. I also can’t remember the last time I read a story on The Times’ site — certainly not since they embargoed NewsNow!

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  6. Um, it’s blocked crawling not linking.
    In News Now’s case, it requires crawling to link. But there’s nothing that stops anyone else linking – of NewsNow ading links manually. The point here, of course, is that NewsNow charges for some of its services – but why should the Times accept its crawler for a paid-for service?

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  7. Anyone would think Murdoch had any news that was worth looking at.

    To me it looks like just another ‘Pathetic Attempt’ to drum up interest in the ailing News Corp Business.

    Last month Murdoch was moaning about Google saying they were pinching his News, yet if Google took News Corp out of its register, News Corp might fail to exist online.

    Do us all a Big ,Big favor Murdoch and keep your so-called News we don’t want it or need it.

    As I said before ‘Cut Your Nose Off to Spite Your Face’ please do.

    Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk

    http://carl-agpcuk.livejournal.com/

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  8. Well it’s now Tuesday, 01 June 2010 and no sign of Murdoch’s pay walls as yet in the TimesOnLine. So has Rupert heeded my many warnings as to possible lost revenue streams from advertising, for who will advertise in a Newspaper when it has a very limited audience?

    Come on Rupert, you really were doing one of your famous windups weren’t you?

    Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk
    http://carl-agpcuk.livejournal.com/
    http://www.dorsetvisualguide.co.uk/

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