BH Media Group Among Newspapers Outraged By New Browser That Substitutes Advertising

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A new browser that substitutes online publishers’ ads with its own ads, thereby denying site owners of revenue, has drawn the ire of a consortium of newspaper publishers, including BH Media Group.

Brendan Eich, one of the founders of Mozilla, is launching Brave, a new Web browser that substitutes its own ads for those of content creators.

The move immediately drew the wrath of newspaper publishers belonging to the Newspaper Association of America, including Newsday, McClatchy Company, The Washington Post, Dow Jones & Company, Gannett Co., Tribune Publishing, The New York Times Co., and Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group.

In a joint letter they accuse Eich of engaging in behavior that takes their creative content and sells advertising in a manner that “everyone else has recognized that it would be blatantly illegal for one company to hijack all the content on the Web for its own benefit.”

They also state, “Your plan to use our content to sell your advertising is indistinguishable from a plan to steal our content to publish on your own website.”

As newspapers struggle with declining print readership, they count on online advertising to continue to keep them viable. Newspapers have invested hundreds of millions in recent years to develop and manage their online platforms.

“We publish some of the most highly valued and widely read sites on the Web. Our sites and mobile applications provide news reporting, photojournalism, video content and feature writing that is researched, reported, edited, and produced at extraordinary cost. Our industry spends more than $5 billion per year on reporting in the United States alone. We distribute that reporting online for free or at highly subsidized rates, in no small part due to revenue from online ads.”

In response, Eich says that the “NAA sent a letter to Brave Software that is filled with false assertions.” And claims that the “NAA has fundamentally misunderstood Brave. Brave is the solution, not the enemy.”

It is unlikely that Eich’s letter will draw any converts, and the whole matter looks headed to court.

The NAA threatened potential legal actions to protect their rights.

“We reserve the right to seek all remedies for this infringement, including but not limited to statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504.”

© 2016 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.