Aggregation War Escalates

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Earlier this week, the Wire covered the fight erupting between Sharon Waxman of The Wrap and Newser founder Michael Wolff. To recap: Waxman says Newser practices underhanded aggregation, tossing up ads when you try to follow links to the original sources, and failing to display those links prominently. Wolff says the links are plenty visible, and mounts a full-throated defense of aggregation as a valuable condensing service. Now, The Wrap's attorneys have fired off a cease and desist letter. Waxman and Wolff exchanged fire once again. (And for the especially interested, they will be squaring off at least one more time in a debate this Sunday on CNN.)

  • Cease and Desist  The lawyers demand Newser stop using The Wrap content, as "Newser is not following industry best practices."  Waxman sums it up sans legalese:
All we really want is for Newser to stop pissing on our leg and tell us it's raining. Very simply: put in credit and links where they are missing. Add a Wrap homepage link to the source grid page. Make it simple and logical to get to actual Wrap content from that page.
  • Desist This  Wolff returns that "a quick search shows [Waxman's] site doing even more blatantly and systematically what she accuses us of doing--taking a free-ride on other people's content." He also defends Newser's practices. "Every Newser story contains two automated links to the source," he states. Another emphatic clarification: "Our business is not news gathering, it is news curation and summarization." He lists a number of other publications doing the same thing.
Simply: We believe that summarizing adds value. And we believe it is ethical: We don’t take words; we don't take expression; we don’t take photos or video; what we do is reduce to the facts and then add our own headlines, and licensed photos and videos to improve the ability to immediately understand a story.

Wolff concludes with a response to the cease and desist letter, which he thinks is on shaky ground because The Warp's content isn't "time-sensitive" and Newser isn't a direct competitor. The letter, he argues, is really about "self-promotion," by which measure "it has succeeded: Waxman and I will be debating all this (if you can stand it) on Howard Kurtz's CNN show at 11am on Sunday morning." Stay tuned.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.