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UK’s largest homegrown news aggregator refuses to sign Newspaper Licensing Agency agreement, branding it “unacceptable and of questionable legitimacy”

London, UK: NewsNow.co.uk, the UK’s largest homegrown news aggregator, is to pull all links to many national newspaper websites from its subscription service as a result of a failure to reach agreement with The Newspaper Licensing Agency Limited (the NLA) over the NLA's proposed “Web Database Licence” scheme. However, links to NLA member publications will remain available via NewsNow’s free website.

The NLA had issued an ultimatum to NewsNow to sign its new “Web Database Licence” by Thursday, December 10th, 2009, or face the prospect of immediate legal action. The “Web Database Licence” purported to license NewsNow’s use of headlines linking to NLA member publications in NewsNow’s subscription service. However, in NewsNow’s view, the legal basis for the NLA’s claims that a licence is or was required remain unsubstantiated. Although NewsNow believes it has a strong case, it did not feel it could justify the considerable costs of pursuing the matter in court at this time.

According to Struan Bartlett, Managing Director and Chairman of NewsNow: “Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach an agreement with the NLA. In spite of the NLA’s claims to the contrary, we continue to maintain that what they are demanding of ourselves and our customers is unacceptable and of questionable legitimacy. Irrespective of the lack of a legal basis, the NLA’s licence is not fit for purpose. This is not just about the charges they intend to impose on us, but the charges they would also impose on our customers for receiving and circulating links within their own organisations. In addition, it is a perhaps an under-reported fact that the terms dictated by the NLA scheme would oblige us to hand over customer details to the NLA, which seems to be developing a potential rival service itself. It is hard to imagine that this kind of behaviour would be tolerated in any other sector. The NLA has also offered no reasonable guarantees of limitations on the increase of costs over time. We strongly feel that to accept the NLA’s terms would set a dangerous precedent restricting our customers’ ability to conduct their business freely. We see this as a ‘slippery slope’ towards any free-to-access website demanding licence fees from any organisation for circulating or clicking on links.”

Newspaper titles that NewsNow is to pull from its subscription service include The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror. A full list of NLA member publications can be obtained at http://www.nla-web.co.uk/downloads/NLA%20Licensed%20Websites....

Bartlett added: “We have worked extremely hard to seek clarification from the NLA and its solicitors on the legal basis for either NewsNow or our customers requiring a licence. I am sorry to say that the NLA has not substantiated the legal basis for its licence. Indeed in our view its arguments do not hold water. We believe that other organisations who privately agree with our position have reluctantly signed the NLA agreement under pressure. However, we are not in a position on our own to fund an extremely costly legal case on behalf of an entire industry. Regretfully, we will therefore as a precautionary measure be removing all links to NLA member publications from our subscription service. We will continue to seek clarification of the legal basis for the NLA's web licensing scheme.”

About NewsNow

NewsNow.co.uk (aka NewsNow) has been aggregating links to Internet news since it was founded in 1997. Today, it is the UK’s largest homegrown news aggregator. It has 20 percent of the market, second only to Google.

Fully automated, and on a continuous basis, NewsNow updates breaking headlines linking to news websites all around the world. NewsNow’s mission is to help provide people with links to the news they need to read, and publishers with people to read the news they write.

Today NewsNow links to over 37,000 news sources, including top news publications. NewsNow.co.uk performs an important public interest role, by referring people to mainstream and alternative news on a single platform.

NewsNow operates by matching breaking news articles, in real time, against keyword-based topic specifications, delivering relevant links to users, and relevant readers to publishers.

NewsNow relies on a combination of advertising, sponsorship, and subscription revenues to fund its services.

The NewsNow.co.uk website, which is among the UK's top web sites, is generally visited by over 2 million users monthly and receives more than 100 million page views per month.

For further press information:

Struan Bartlett
Managing Director and Chairman
NewsNow
Tel: 0845 838 8890
E-mail: release141209@NewsNow.co.uk

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