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NewsNow tells newspapers: Lay off the legal action

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News aggregrator NewsNow.co.uk has told British newspapers to lay off the legal threats and accept that linking to news stories is good for their business.

NewsNow collects headlines from thousands of news sources and groups them according to subject matter. Clicking on a headline will take you directly to the relevant story. But the site, which launched in 1998, has been hit by legal threats from most of the UK's national newspapers.

In response NewsNow's managing director Struan Bartlett has written an open letter to the leading newspaper publishers asking for an end to legal threats and an understanding that most news aggregators increase traffic, and therefore revenue, to newspaper websites rather than just feeding off them.

The letter said the firm understood the financial difficulties papers are suffering: "But we have had enough of indiscriminate attacks. 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.

"We can’t speak for all aggregators but for our part at NewsNow, we don’t do anything that detracts from the value of your content."

The letter points out that linking markets content to readers and is central to how the internet works. It adds: "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."

Bartlett calls on publishers to:

1. stop the legal threats; 2. recognise the place and value of legitimate news aggregation websites in today’s news ecosystem; 3. commit to upholding the freedom to link; and 4. support those of your readers who wish to find links to your websites on NewsNow.

In not entirely unrelated news, Ericsson has launched a mobile payment system for publishers. It allows users to enter a mobile phone number when they hit a paywall. They will then receive a code by text message to get access to the content they want and a charge would be added to their mobile bill.

The company expects to charge publishers £1,000 a month for the service as well as taking a slice of revenues. More from Editors Blog here. ®

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