The Times, The Sunday Times, Newspaper Licensing Agency Try to Fortify Pay Walls in the U.K.

Newspapers were prominent in the news in the United Kingdom, as The Times and The Sunday Times relaunched as two separate Web sites and announced that search engines will not be able to access their articles, while the Newspaper Licensing Agency is heading to Britain’s High Court in an effort to stop news aggregator Meltwater News from crawling its content, all of which was reported by paidContent:UK.

The new, separate sites for The Times and The Sunday Times will be available free-of-charge for one month to users who created free Times+ accounts, after which the News Corp.-owned newspapers will begin charging £1 per day and £2 per week, making them the media giant’s first paid consumer news sites, according to paidContent:UK. More details on the new sites, including a link to an audio interview, follow after the jump.

During a preview of the Times and Sunday Times sites for journalists at the publications’ Wapping, London, headquarters Monday night, it was revealed that only the home pages will be available to search engines, with users who reach article pages to encounter a sign-up and log-in page, rather than content, paidContent:UK reported.

The Times executive editor Danny Finkelstein told paidContent:UK:

When we showed it to people, that was the model they preferred. We’re completely unashamed about this. We’re trying to get people to pay for the journalism, and we wanted to do it in a very simple way.

Assistant editor Tom Whitwell also told paidContent:UK:

The clarity is something that was very important. If you’re asking someone to pay for something, it has to be very clear what they’re paying for.

Continuing the theme of newspapers seeking payment for their content, the NLA, which is owned by the top eight news publishers in the United Kingdom, imposed two new licenses in January — forcing commercial entities to pay £5,000-£10,000 per year to crawl their newspapers’ online content, and forcing the entities’ clients to pay £58 annually and up for access to that content, according to paidContent:UK. Most clippings agencies have either paid the fee or ceased use of the content, but Meltwater has not complied.

The NLA on why it took the case to the High Court, via paidContent:UK:

The Copyright Tribunal process is lengthy and is unlikely to be resolved until February 2011. Crucially, it is doubtful whether the Copyright Tribunal has jurisdiction over the terms of law governing aggregator and end-user licenses. The NLA has therefore decided to seek a High Court ruling to create legal clarity.

Meltwater issued a response in a statement to paidContent:UK:

Having initially learned about the NLA’s decision to take Meltwater and the PRCA (Public Relations Consultants Association) to court through the press, both parties have only just received the papers concerning this claim. While we understand that the industry will want clarification on this issue, we do not see this development as cause for concern. Naturally, we are reviewing the papers in consultation with our legal advisors. But not wishing to prejudice our case with the Copyright Tribunal, which we believe to be strong, we will study the NLA’s claim before responding. We remain confident, however, that the NLA’s proposals for a Web license are flawed and that the courts will support our views on this.

Back to the launch of separate sites for The Times and The Sunday Times, Finkelstein told paidContent:UK:

We can make the experience the newspaper, but better. It’s heavily influenced by what people recognize as The Times. I know people will buy The Times (online) because they already do (in print). I know people will buy The Sunday Times (online) because they already do (in print). David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
Publish date: May 25, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT