Nine months after News Corp Australia forced ThePaperboy.com proprietor Ian Duckworth to remove all of News Corp’s Australian front pages from his website, News UK has done the same. ThePaperboy.com carries a notice, picked up by The Guardian, that it will no longer feature the front pages of the Sun, the Times or the Sunday Times. “Yes it sucks — please complain to Rupert,” Duckworth writes.

For 17 years the Canberra-based Duckworth has been collating the front pages of many of the world’s newspapers on his website, which is updated daily. But in January, News Corp Australia asked him to remove all the front pages of News Corp papers, effectively gutting the Australian section of the website, which now features only the front pages of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Now News’ British arm has done the same. Duckworth told Crikey this morning he had received a “generic take-down notice” citing a breach of copyright eight days ago (he tweeted it here).

“It’s a real shame News see the Paperboy front pages this way,” he said. “I thought it was actually a service to the newspaper industry. I wonder if they will pursue action against others that regularly tweet front pages.”

When Crikey spoke to him earlier this year, Duckworth was sceptical that his use of the front pages wouldn’t qualify under fair use provisions, but decided to comply anyway. “I run the website myself largely as a personal project and don’t have the time or resources to get into a legal battle,” Duckworth told Crikey. But News Corp told Crikey the website lacked a licence and profited from front pages by displaying advertising. “Thepaperboy.com was showcasing full front pages without a licence and was profiting from doing so by running advertisements on the site,” a spokesman told Crikey. “We are more than happy to license the content, but it declined.” Duckworth was hopeful of reaching some sort of agreement with News Corp about the use of its front pages, but the Australian ones are still missing from the website.

Commenting on the missing UK front pages, media commentator Roy Greenslade was sceptical of the reasoning. “It still doesn’t explain why the company should be so protective of the best adverts they have — their front pages.”

Duckworth doesn’t intend to fight the take-down, which in the UK affects far fewer newspapers than it did in Australia. “The Paperboy goes on largely unaffected by the absence of the News titles. It appears they are not hugely missed,” he said.

Peter Fray

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