Media giants target free Zite news application

Good for the user, bad for the content suppliers. Image: Zite.

Zite, a handy but controversial news-aggregation app built for use on the Apple iPad has this week provoked the legal fury of a number of media outlets due to how it operates.

Once installed, the Zite platform searches for and displays news stories depending on the user's particular interests—however, the sourced content is shown on a Zite pop-up window that automatically applies re-formatting, dropping any accompanying ads in the process.

And this is what has apparently ruffled the feathers of major media outlets such as The Associated Press, Dow Jones, Getty Images, Time Inc., and The Washington Post.

According to AFP, a band of 11 disgruntled outlets have dispatched a cease-and-desist letter to Zite's Vancouver-based developer (also called Zite), describing the application as “plainly unlawful” and accusing it of “intentionally and pervasively” infringing on their collective copyrights.

“By systematically reformatting, republishing and redistributing our original content on a mass commercial scale without our permission in your iPad application, Zite directly and adversely impacts our businesses,” the letter said.

In offering up a reaction to the cease-and-desist notice, Zite chief executive Ali Davar indicated that the developer will comply by switching how the app's aggregated content is displayed.

This will involve shifting Zite's delivery from the contentious user-centric 'reading mode' to the unaltered 'Web view mode'; something the developer has been doing for New York Times content since launch.

The application, which became available as a free download on March 9, has already been snapped up more than 120,000 times, according to Zite.

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