Times Online has blocked Meltwater, the Norwegian online media monitor, from indexing its news content in response to the company refusing to compensate the newspaper for crawling its website, PaidContent reported Tuesday.
The Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch, previously blocked news monitor NewsNow from linking to its stories in January using robots.txt protocol, software that prevents web crawlers from accessing a website.
In January, the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), a consortium of eight British news publishers including Murdoch's News International, created the "Web Database License" plan stipulating that agencies, like NewsNow and Meltwater, pay between £5,000 and £10,000 a year for licenses to crawl news websites online; and that the clients of those agencies pay a further £58 a year to read their content. Aggregators like Google News are exempt because they do not charge readers for articles.
While NewsNow eventually removed articles written by NLA newspapers from its subscription service, Meltwater was the only agency that failed to sign the agreement and appealed to the UK Copyright Tribunal to dispute the new licenses. The judge's ruling is still pending.
The decision by Murdoch to block NewsNow and Meltwater as opposted to charging them for new licenses points towards the Times' commitment to its own online pay strategy. Times Online is expected to implement a paywall on its website this spring.