Tim Buckley Owen More cost pressures on news
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By Tim Buckley Owen


Licensing for reuse of newspaper content is set to extend to web sites from next year. The Newspaper Licensing Agency, which authorises reuse of items from many United Kingdom news sources, has said that web aggregators that charge clients for their services will require an NLA licence from this September and will be charged from January 2010.

Press cuttings agencies that either 'scrape' content themselves or buy in services from aggregators will also be licensed and charged - and client companies that receive and forward links from these commercial aggregators within their organisation will require a licence too (http://digbig.com/4yyrb).

The move has provoked some indignant reaction and doubts about its workability. paidContent:UK sees no justification for charging for use of a URL link, as opposed to reproducing actual content (http://digbig.com/4yyrc), and specialist blogger Matt Wardman points out that it raises huge implications for the future legal status of the hyperlink (http://digbig.com/4yyrd).

NLA managing director David Pugh told Wardman that the licence only applied to organisations circulating hyperlinks commercially, not use by private individuals or the results of queries by internet search engines such as Google News (http://digbig.com/4yyre). But news bosses are just as concerned about Google News; they recently told a UK Parliamentary committee that competition rules currently prevented them from sitting down with Google to thrash out a fair payment system - and MPs hinted that they might be able to help (http://digbig.com/4yyrf).

Meanwhile the NLA is sugaring its pill by offering a new wholesale service called eClipsweb to web aggregators (http://digbig.com/4yyrb) - but at least one commercial aggregator, Moreover, is reported to be considering suing the Agency, alleging that the new charge compromises its business model (http://digbig.com/4yyrg).

This wouldn't the first time that Moreover had been involved in litigation over its use of news - see http://www.vivavip.com/go/e780. It's inconceivable that new costs incurred by aggregators won't be passed on to their clients.

So where does all this leave information managers, struggling to reconcile compromised budgets with the need to maintain a reliable intelligence stream for their organisations? They could review the options for buying enterprise news proposed in Outsell's recent report News Strategies for the Enterprise (purchase details at http://digbig.com/4yyrh). They could focus on purely paid-for services like Dialog's newly launched Newsroom Plus, which integrates premium global news content with quality information from the open Web (http://digbig.com/4yyrj). Or they could restrict their budgets to the services offered by the crème de la crème: the FT (which recently launched its own semantic search service - http://www.vivavip.com/go/e17206 - and won't be part of the new NLA scheme) or the Economist.

In contrast to the Armageddon facing much of the news content industry, these two specialist titles seem to be doing rather well right now (http://digbig.com/4yyrk and http://digbig.com/4yyrm).

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