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Aggregators beware - NewsRight to target scrapers
Monday, 16th January 2012
On this side of the Atlantic, users of online news have been following the longstanding battle between aggregator Meltwater News and the PR consultants association (PRCA) against the NLA (Newspaper Licensing Agency) – for the latest news on the still unresolved case read Meltwater’s press release on taking its case to the Supreme Court here.
Now the issue over how to apply copyright to news aggregators and bloggers is making the headlines in the United States. The Editors Weblog reported last week on the launch of a "news registry" called NewsRight, by 29 US news organisations.
Led by Associated Press (AP) the digital content licensing organisation has been set up to help members track their content used by bloggers and news services. The aim is to turn users who have not paid for members’ content into licensees.
According to Businessweek, AP has been waging a battle of words against aggregators since 2007 and has now designed technology which can track even small chunks of content used "illegally" by web scrapers and bloggers. Headlines and text are embedded with HTML codes, which can let NewsRight know where and by whom they are being used.
While there are those who maintain that struggling newspapers have to come up with some line of defence against those who are re-publishing their stories online, others such as Digital Journal argue that AP and its fellow NewsRight members are part of a traditional media mindset that does not know how to cope in the new digital news environment. Like United Kingdom commentators who have followed the Meltwater/NLA case, US media pundits have questioned whether AP’s news registry can possibly succeed when there so many reputable news organisations that offer their stories and commentaries free on their sites – Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC, CBC and Twitter to name a few.
Also many argue that NewsRight’s tactics go against the concept of the "fair use" clause, which is part of US copyright law. In fact, many information professionals who blog may well be affected by the register.
Will commenting on news published by NewsRight members, which frequently involves re-posting articles from other websites, incur charges? US journalist David Sirota makes a good point in this interview: NewsRight could be seen as an obstacle to debate and commentary – counter to what democracy is all about.
By Penny Crossland
Penny Crossland is the owner of CH Business Research, a consultancy specialising in investigative research and market intelligence. Penny conducts research projects for clients from a variety of industry sectors, including financial services, management and security consultancy, FMCG, publishing and retail. Fluent in German, she also translates academic papers and corporate material.
Before establishing her business in 2001, Penny was Research Manager at OC&C Strategy Consultants in London. Penny graduated from Bristol University with a degree in German and Politics and has a Masters degree from London University in contemporary German Literature. She became interested in all aspects of business information through working for an industrial market research company in New York.
Penny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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