News International (NI) has banned NewsNow from linking to any content on Times Online, given in their policy change, 2008. As a consequence, over two million users will no longer find links or content related to Times Online.
Before we get into the actual matter, if you do not know about NewsNow, here is some crucial info.
NewsNow has been the UK’s largest news aggregator operating since 1997. It updates the user with the latest news and trends collected from all over the Internet, including top publications. It aims to be a one-stop solution for all the news with over 43000+ news sources. It gains over 2 million users per month with more than 100 million page views.
Getting back to the original story…
Criticisms for NewsNow
The news aggregation site has faced significant backlash over displaying news content for free without compensation. Times Online believes that it devalues the quality of its content. The site will also introduce a paywall to tackle news aggregation.
The Bigger Picture
NewsNow was quick to respond to the ban. Their chairman expressed concerns over a move by News International and claimed that the search engines continue to do the same but do not face any backlash. He further added that “NewsNow provides inbound traffic to sites which helps them get more subscribers.”
The move has raised concerns over the freedom of the press. Many believe that it should be free to forward and follow links without permission or fee. The circulation of public information should be unrestricted without any restraint.
The Director added, “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. NI is asking us to accept restrictions on our freedom to link to publicly available information that it would not accept itself.”
With a ban on NewsNow, the blog will not only be able to link but cannot crawl it either.
How does the NewsNow Aggregator Work?
To fully understand the case, it is essential to know how the website works. Being a news aggregator, NewsNow pulls news from different sites and assembles them in one place. The process is fully automated. Some publishers often give their content to news aggregators to get more views.
NewsNow Crawling and Linking
NewsNow has been banned using a robot.txt protocol which refrains it from linking and indexing. The news aggregator is dependent on an online system that is used to set up its site.
If we look at the Times Online website, it says any unauthorised use of service, including linking, is prohibited. Perhaps they need to explain the unauthorised use of content better.