Well it had to happen sooner or later. One of the UK’s top news aggregators has decided to remove links to most of the national news sites following a spat with the Newspaper Licensing Authority.

NewsNow will now stop linking to newspapers including The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Mirror, among others.

The NLA has been putting pressure on aggregators in recent months and its demands for compensation (for aggregators with a B2B angle that charge clients for the aggregation of links) have been too much for NewsNow to take.

In a statement, NewsNow MD Struan Bartlett said:

Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach an agreement with the NLA. In spite of the NLA’s claims to the contrary, we continue to maintain that what they are demanding of ourselves and our customers is unacceptable and of questionable legitimacy. 

“Irrespective of the lack of a legal basis, the NLA’s licence is not fit for purpose. This is not just about the charges they intend to impose on us, but the charges they would also impose on our customers for receiving and circulating links within their own organisations.

“In addition, it is a perhaps an under-reported fact that the terms dictated by the NLA scheme would oblige us to hand over customer details to the NLA, which seems to be developing a potential rival service itself. It is hard to imagine that this kind of behaviour would be tolerated in any other sector.

“The NLA has also offered no reasonable guarantees of limitations on the increase of costs over time. We strongly feel that to accept the NLA’s terms would set a dangerous precedent restricting our customers’ ability to conduct their business freely. We see this as a ‘slippery slope’ towards any free-to-access website demanding licence fees from any organisation for circulating or clicking on links.”

A deadline of 10 December was set by the NLA if NewsNow wanted to avoid “immediate legal action”. The NLA had previously indicated to me that it will pursue legal action against firms that do not comply with its requests in January.

We previously reported NewsNow’s position here, and also interviewed the NLA on the matter.