If you thought the publishing industry’s unwillingness to directly challenge Google’s linking would stop them from chasing down other aggregators (specifically those without the vast financial ability to actually fight a court battle), well, read this. The Newspaper Licensing Agency Limited (NLA), representing publishers in the UK, has created a license scheme of questionable legality that they’ve been trying to ram down everyone’s throat. Many of the UK news aggregators have given in and signed on, but not NewsNow. So the NLA has engaged in a time-tested maneuver; they threatened a much smaller and financially incapable company standing in its way with a long, bankrupting law suit. Not a law suit they would necessarily win (or even have the desire of ever reaching an actual judgment) just one that would force the company in question to exhaust its resources defending. American Civil Law never did it so well.
And just for context, check out this page on the NLA’s website. I may be violating their perverted view of copyright in providing that link, but, seriously, read that. Is this organization actually hunting down companies that send out photocopies of press clippings for licensing fees? Really? I knew the industry was notoriously cheap. And , in this financial environment, desperate, but my lord! How do you even begin to justify this obvious extortionist tactic? This is a business plan the mob would be proud of. A protection racket; pay us our monthly “licensing” fee and we won’t file expensive frivolous lawsuits for copyright infringement against you.
In these trying times, it’s somewhat comforting to know that the publishing industry reeling from massive financial setbacks, still takes some time out of their busy schedule to do some old-school bullying. They’d better enjoy it now, though, because as quickly as their business models are sinking, they won’t have the money to pay all those pricey lawyers to make threats for them much longer.