NewsNow vs the Times: Right to crawl vs right to link
Original post: I am sympathetic not sympathetic towards NewsNow over the newspapers' attempts to prevent it linking to them. The site has now been blocked from showing Times Online stories (more background here). But its campaign is a bit odd as it - and most of the media reporting the story - are confusing linking and crawling / indexing:
The right to link
Right2Link (founding sponsor NewsNow) asserts that:
We, the supporters of the right to link, declare:
- All should be free to create, forward and follow links — they are the signposts to content on the web.
- Linking should require no permission nor charge.
- The free circulation of publicly accessible information is threatened if individuals, organisations and search engines cannot continue to create, forward and follow links without undue restraint.
Crawling vs linking
What the Times has done, however, is block NewsNow from crawling its site using its robots.txt file. This is nothing to do with linking to its site.
In NewsNow's case, it requires crawling to do its linking, as it's an automatic news aggregator. So it needs to crawl / index the Times site to put its own site together.
But this afternoon's piece of pedantry from me is to point out that, for the rest of us, they are not the same. And nothing the Times has done today stops anyone from linking to them - the demand of the Right2Link campaign.
So a big red box about undermining access to public information seems irrelevant.
Update: What's more, NewsNow charges for some of its services so this has even less to do with public information ...
Oh wait, we are banned from linking, my mistake
Of course, if you look through the T&Cs of the Times site, it says:
Illegal and/or unauthorized use of the Services, including ... unauthorised framing of or linking to the Website is prohibited.
It's not very clear what unauthorised linking is, however. But I'd better not link to the T&Cs just in case! (This follows on from my posts last year in which I pointed out that most major newspapers and many other organisations forbade you from linking to them. SEO anyone?).