In an earlier post I argued that in the relationship between online aggregators and publishers, aggregators have the upper hand strategically. In a nutshell, the reason for this was that if an aggregator were to stop linking to a publisher, traffic to its site would drop only by a fraction of the corresponding drop in the publisher's traffic – if it drops at all. As I said then, this means that aggregators have all the bargaining power, and publishers have no hope of extracting payments from them (barring legal options, which may or may not exist).
As a corollary, I could have added that publishers should not push their luck trying to get payments from aggregators. Taking a leaf from the Godfather, aggregators could reply by not only refusing, but demanding that publishers pay them for their links instead.
Well, today I read this fascinating interview of Andrew Breitbart, second-in-command at the Drudge Report and the man behind Breitbart.com. According to the interviewer Greg Beato, Brietbart gets Reuters to pay him for linking to Reuters stories from Breitbart.com, and possibly from the Drudge Report too. The key bit (my emphasis):
In the early days of Breitbart.com, Breitbart licensed content from the Associated Press and Reuters, as this archived page shows. But according to documents generated in a 2005 legal dispute between Breitbart and two other parties, Reuters terminated its contract with Breitbart.com in late September.
In October 2005, however, Reuters approached Breitbart with the kind of offer that generally occurs only in the less believable tales in Penthouse Forum or when a Nigerian vicar is planning to rip you off. To wit, Reuters wanted to pay Breitbart "a fee for traffic to driven to Reuters [sic] own website."
Typically, newspaper sites pay newswires to license their content, and that's what Breitbart was doing until Reuters cancelled its original contract with him. Now, it wanted to switch things up.
Compare and contrast this with the ongoing saga in the UK around aggregator newsnow.co.uk which is being sued by several papers for linking to their websites. Discuss.