NYT Doesn't Want Its Feeds in Paid Feed Readers

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Pulse News Reader, an iPad app that Steve Jobs himself showed off in his keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference was kicked out of the App Store later that day, because the New York Times sent Apple a notice that the app was using its content without license.

Kara Swisher at All Things Digital says the app's developers planned to contact Apple and take steps to remove NYT content. "It is not immediately clear why they need to, since Pulse draws from publicly available Times RSS feeds as many other apps do and does no scraping," she writes, adding that Pulse is little more than an RSS reader.

The whole thing has led to speculation that the New York Times may be "declaring war on News Aggregators." That may be the case, at least with aggregators that require payment from users. Swisher references the notice from the NYT's lawyer, saying, "The Pulse News Reader app, makes commercial use of the NYTimes.com and Boston.com RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use*. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the NYTimes.com and Boston.com websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use."

Matthew Ingram, writing for GigOm, elaborates on that framing part: "What may have contributed to the complaint is that Pulse also has a view that shows the newspaper's website inside a Pulse frame. Although there is no obvious advertising in the app, such framing of a site's content has led to legal challenges against news aggregators in the past, including a high-profile case launched in 1997 by the Washington Post, CNN, Reuters and a number of other media entities against a site called TotalNews, which embedded news content from other outlets inside a frame."

Clearly not all of the NYT's staff felt threatened by Pulse, as Brad Stone writing for the publication's Bits blog last week said, "News organizations still puzzling over their iPad strategies can perhaps derive some hope from Pulse's success."

It will be interesting to see, A: will the New York Times continue a crusade against aggregators (even if only paid ones)? B: Will the Pulse News Reader app be back in the App store after getting rid of the New York Times feeds? C: Will other publications follow the Times' lead?

Under any of these options, it appears readers will lose.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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