Daily news aggregator Nando.net
getting creative in its struggle to turn a profit.
Today the site announced that it will provide its users
with free email accounts. The idea is to keep users on the Nando site
longer and also to give them reason to keep coming back.
Nando also recently requested that certain sites pay a $100 monthly fee
for the right to link to Nando stories.
"We have an audience, and our mission is to provide them with news and
information services to meet their needs," said Nando president Christian
Hendricks. The free email services also will be available to other sites
that are part of Nando's parent company, McClatchy Newspapers.
Nando aggregates news headlines from sources including the Associated
Press, Reuters, the Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times
Syndicate. It also includes original reporting.
The site boasts 3.5 million daily page views, and Hendricks characterized
the Nando business model as "a good revenue stream." But he also said the
site is not yet profitable.
The monthly fee for linking privileges has raised the ire of many,
including sites that do nothing
but link to news stories on other sites. None of the approximately a dozen sites from which Nando has requested fees has agreed to pay them,
according to Hendricks.
One such site is the 7am News, whose editor,
Bruce Simpson, has proposed
creating a representative body of linking organizations to fight
attempts by content sites to charge for links.
Despite 7am News's refusal to pay Nando's linking fee, Hendricks said he
did not intend to back up his fee request with a lawsuit because 7am is
located in New Zealand.
"This is one of the frustrating things about the Net," said Hendricks.
"We're not going to litigate against someone [overseas]--it's not worth our
If Nando or any other content provider were to bring such a lawsuit in the
United States, it would stand on uncertain legal ground.
The most relevant mirror to a hypothetical Nando suit is one brought last
year by Ticketmaster against Microsoft for a link from the software
company's Sidewalk city guide to
Ticketmaster, said two intellectual property attorneys.
which is still pending, is the only one in which a company has sued in the
United States for the placement of a pure HTML link from one site to its own. A different linking case
based in Scotland would not apply because it would not provide a precedent for a U.S.
court case, the attorneys said.
Another linking case brought
last year hinged on the question of whether TotalNews could link to a story but
present it within its own frame and surround it with its own advertising.
That case was settled last year with TotalNews agreeing to stop framing
other sites' stories.
Intellectual property experts said Nando might have a chance in court, but
that it was acting against the spirit of the Internet.
"The whole point of the Web from its conception years ago is that there
would be links," said Carl Oppedahl, a trademark dispute attorney with Oppedahl & Larson in Frisco, Colorado.
"And no one who sets up a Web page should be surprised or dismayed if
someone makes an ordinary link to their page."
An objectionable link, according to Oppedahl, might include one that
libeled or misrepresented the site to which it linked or one that used an image located
on the content site's server. But neither is the case with the links for which Nando
is attempting to charge.
Nando's only legally binding argument, according to lawyers, would be if
they could defend their intellectual property investment in the headline
itself. Copyright law does not normally cover short words or phrases, however,
according to Oppedahl.
"There has to be enough originality and creativity to be copyrightable,"
said Jeff Neuburger, a partner with Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner. "I'm looking on the Nando
site and I see headlines like 'Britain, Ireland optimistic about striking
deal.' I would argue that that is not a very original or creative headline
and therefore is not copyrightable."