It seems that News International is making good on its promise to remove its newspapers from search indexes and news aggregators. Yesterday, Murdoch's The Sun Online blocked Meltwater, an online media monitoring company that notifies companies when they have been mentioned in newspapers, according to Paid Content.
This move comes as the Wapping-based publications prepare to erect paywalls around their websites. Back in March, the Times Online also blocked Meltwater in response to the company refusing to compensate the newspaper for aggregating its content. Once again, the Murdoch-owned newspaper used the robots.txt protocol, software that prevents web crawlers from accessing a website, to block Meltwater.
In the past, The Times also blocked news monitor, NewsNow, from crawling its website. Paid Content reports that the next software to get the ax from News International will be the Nexis database.
In January, the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), a group of eight British news publishers including Murdoch's News International, mandated that companies that crawled news websites pay between £5,000 and £10,000 a year for licenses; and that the clients of those agencies pay an additional £58 a year to read their content. Meltwater remains the only company that has not complied with the requirement.
According to a statement Meltwater sent Paid Content, the news monitoring company has not refused to pay the £10,000 license, but rejects the notion that clients need to pay for the service an additional 'minimum' of £58 a year. Meltwater claims actual fees could reach up to £22,000 per client.
On many occasions during the last couple of months, Murdoch, one of the paywall's fiercest advocates, confirmed that his newspapers were close to implementing paywalls. The decision to block Meltwater by the Sun seems to be a step towards the newspaper's paywall. While the Times has decided to erect a paywall in June, the Sun has not specified any date but if this is any indication, the day may be closer than we thought.
Sources: Paid Content