In a bid to combat the practice of automatically reposting news online, or “scraping,” 29 news and information companies have joined forces to create NewsRight, an independent digital rights and content licensing organization that is intended to guard their intellectual property and business interests by policing unauthorized borrowing of their content.
A for-profit company, NewsRight will track online usage of articles and demand fees where appropriate.
So far, participating companies have invested some $30 million in NewsRight, which currently has a staff of 11. Companies investing in NewsRight include Advance Publications, The Associated Press, A.H. Belo Management Services, Hearst Newspapers, Journal Communications, The McClatchy Company, Media General, MediaNews Group, The New York Times Company, The E.W. Scripps Company and The Washington Post Company.
NewsRight is led by David Westin, a former president of ABC News, who stated: “More news is available more ways than ever in history. But if reliable information is to continue to flourish, the companies investing in creating content need efficient ways to license it as broadly as possible."
NewsRight’s mission, he adds, is to make sure "those who republish content do so with integrity.”
NewsRight will have to avoid the obstacles to content policing that confronted Righthaven, a company that tried to sue news aggregators, blogs, and other Web sites for allegedly infringing on newspaper copyrights.
Righthaven has been dealt several defeats in court rulings, which threw out the company’s lawsuits. According to MediaPost’s Wendy Davis, last April, Righthaven was forced to withdraw one prominent lawsuit against the editor of a Web site because it wasn't able to show that it served him with the correct legal papers.
On another occasion, a court ruled that Righthaven never had the right to sue for infringement of Las Vegas Review-Journal articles because the newspaper's parent company, Stephens Media, had not granted Righthaven the ability to license the pieces. Around two-thirds of Righthaven's 300 lawsuits have concerned material originally published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.