Blog Post

Updated: Read This Dow Jones Reply To A Licensing Request — And Weep

We’ve been running a two-part interview with Dow Jones (NSDQ: NWS) top business and editorial execs, Les Hinton and Robert Thomson, including an emphasis on repurposing content to increase the financial return. The following exchange between Shafqat Islam, CEO of, and a Dow Jones Europe biz dev exec would have been a jawdropper at any time; reading it in that light, even more so.

When a client expressed an interest in including Dow Jones content on its private site, Islam contacted Dow Jones about licensing fees. The terse reply: “We would not allow our content to be used in this form. Please do not archive, spider, link or otherwise mention or use any content from any Dow Jones International publications on your website. We herby confirm that we do not allow the use of our IP on your site.”

I’m not suggesting Dow Jones had to license the content. It’s the manner of the reply — the instant rejection and the almost-hostile use of legalese. A simple “you’re too small” or “that’s not our policy” or whatever the reason is would have been a good start. Even better would have been a note acknowledging there could be an opportunity here even if this particular instance is not the right fit.

Islam provided the e-mail chain at my request after I saw his tweets about the situation; read the whole thread (identifying info removed) below.

Update: I asked Dow Jones for a comment. Here’s their statement: “Private Equity News, a specialist premium content site created primarily for the UK market, does not license its content to third party Web sites. To be clear, Dow Jones allows and encourages linking to headlines and story summaries on our sites, including Private Equity News, as an introductory gateway to those interested in our valuable and unique content. We are reaching out to the customer directly to clarify.”

11 Responses to “Updated: Read This Dow Jones Reply To A Licensing Request — And Weep”

  1. It’s really just a simple unfortunate miscommunication by a DJ representative. It was good that the newscred guy wrote back to clarify. The responses weren’t great, but they did help clarify things. It should be treated privately and internally by DJ as a developmental opportunity and that’s it.

    The fact that newscred would share the exchange with paidcontent, and that paidcontent would publish it with that inflammatory headline is weak. chicken shit.

    Yeah, you can make it into a story about how old media doesn’t get it or some crap like that. And that sounds compelling. But that’s obviously not true to what really happened.

  2. Yawn: there is a story here. News organizations complain when people take their story for free, and now they’re complaining when someone wants to pay them. On top of that, their initial response about no linking allowed was ludicrous, and the more people like Staci highlight this, and sooner they will get a clue and potentially make moves to save their own industry.

    FYI – some simple Google searching shows that Newscred has potentially two businesses/sites. I believe Shafqat was referring to this business

  3. shafqat

    @Steven – not sure if you read the full article, but:

    -It wasn’t a form letter. We had a client that was specifically interested in licensing PE News content and we were ready to PAY for it.

    -We were NOT asking for permission to aggregate their content and display it on any portal or aggregator. It was a specific request for a private client site.

    -The point was not that they said no to the licensing request. They are absolutely within their rights to do that (although it’s contrary to the strategy mentioned by their execs). The point is to highlight their protectionist response saying “no links, no mentions, no excerpts” etc. Since then they have backtracked somewhat to a more sensible position.

    -FYI, our company strategy, thankfully, does not depend on licensing Dow Jones content. We license content from countless other sources without any issues, and we also broker deals on our clients’ behalf. We’re in the business of helping publisher’s with their content strategy and often it involves licensing content, which we try to help with. Simple as that.

  4. I’ve got to agree with Asif – there’s no story here. It seems the only confusion was that this exec got it wrong the first time about “no linking” and then corrected himself and says “yes, you can link”. If they don’t want to license their content then they don’t have to, surely?

    And do we really think NewsCred were seeking to pay for the content? I don’t see any premium content on Newscred so perhaps Shafqat has another agenda, like getting his site mentioned on Paid Content and giving himself something to Tweet about.

    Was it a slow news day at Paid Content or is there a story here that I’m missing? Are you going to start reprinting each and every customer service grip from the media industry?

  5. As I’ve said on other references to the “no” mentality from newspapers, if the NFL team owners had said no to licensing their games for telecasting, their logos for merchandise, and their players likenesses in uniform to sponsors, the professional football “economy” would be just ticket sales to local fans.

    Granted there is experimenting going on here. But they don’t have to grant the rights in perpetuity. Treat it as an experiment with a limited life. Charge upfront, not on the backend based on pageviews.

    There are just so many more creative scenarios to consider than “No!”

    Katherine Warman Kern

  6. Asif Patel

    I really don’t know what all of the fuss is about. Why has Staci D. Kramer even bothered to write this story. Does not have anything more interesting to write about?

  7. @staci With respect, everyone and their sister would like to aggregate or repurpose News Corp content. Apparently News Corp’s strategy is to say no — and firmly warn off any thoughts of unlicensed aggregation — from small or over-the-transom prospective partners.


    Maybe News Corp should have a different strategy, but whatever, they don’t. NewsCred should get a grip, and, I guess, get a strategy that doesn’t require content from News Corp…

    • Staci D. Kramer

      @steven No, they asked about a potential business deal and got a response
      that was more like a cease-and-desist letter. That’s at the same time the
      company wants to make more money from re-use of its content. This may not
      have been a deal they wanted but that kind of response won’t get them deals
      they want.

      @Strodtbeck Murdoch wants News Corp sites to be paid for news aggregation. A
      news aggregator asked how to do that for a narrow purpose. That was the
      result. How does it encurage other people to find solutions?

  8. Personally I have a problem with sites that essentially give a summary of a news article from a real news site. It’s one thing to mention an article and why a user might want to jump over to that site and read the article or why not, etc, but far too often today I’m seeing sites basically paraphrase an entire news story. That’s steeling the article that you did no work in creating in the first place–this is happening to any site that has a feed.

    The web is about sharing and directing people to the sites that did the work, not ripping it off.

    News aggregators just give a line or two about the article and link directly to the article, while many blog/news sites are now giving a full synopsis of the article. The former is a great way to share information and get users to find what they are looking for while the later is basically theft.