A study of the use of US newspaper stories on the Web has found that more than 75,000 websites reused content from newspapers without authorization during a 30-day period.
The study was carried out by Attributor, a content tracking firm behind the Fair Syndication Consortium, a group of more than 1,500 publishers who have banded together to ensure that content creators are compensated for their work.
It comes as US newspaper owners grapple with declining print advertising revenue, falling circulation and free news on the Web and amid moves by News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch to begin charging online readers of his newspapers.
The study, which was released on Tuesday, found that during a 30-day period ending on November 15 a total of 75,195 unlicensed websites reused at least one US newspaper article.
The unlicensed websites published some 112,000 "near-exact" copies of an original article and, on average, each article was reused at least in part 4.4 times, it said.
While blog sites are most frequently accused of using content without authorization, blogs made up less than 10 percent of the top reusing sites during the period under review.
The study found that Google and Yahoo!'s advertising networks dominated the unlicensed monetization of US newspaper content with Google accounting for 53 percent of the total monetization and Yahoo! for 19 percent.
"The findings of the Fair Syndication Consortium research brief are significant as they prove that there is a large amount of unauthorized US newspaper content reused online, and that reuse is monetized by major ad networks," said Randy Bennett, senior vice president of business development for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).
"At the NAA, we're supporting new models for content monetization as we strongly believe that quality content produced by top journalists and news organizations should be compensated," Bennett said in a statement.
The study monitored reuse of 101,000 articles from US newspaper publishers including Cox, Gannett, McClatchy, MediaNews Group, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
It found that articles from large national newspapers were reused as many as 15 times.
The study's release coincided with a two-day meeting here hosted by the Federal Trade Commission to discuss the future of journalism in the Internet age.
Speaking on the opening day of the meeting, News Corp. chairman Murdoch hit out at news aggregators saying they were engaged in "theft" and "feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others."
Murdoch did not cite any companies by name but he has criticized Google in the past for not sharing advertising revenue and threatened to block News Corp. newspapers from being indexed by the search engine.
Articles appearing on Google News were not included in the Attributor study.
(c) 2009 AFP
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