The aggregator has been disallowed from crawling Times Online using the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), which publishers can use to control which sites are allowed to index their material.
"It is lamentable that News International has chosen to request we stop linking to their content and providing in-bound traffic and potential subscribers to the Times Online and right now it looks as though NewsNow has been singled out. We note that no other major search engine has been blocked by NI [News International] in this manner. NewsNow is not fundamentally different to other news search engines that are part of the Internet infrastructure, such as Google News and Yahoo. Why block us and not them?" says Struan Bartlett, NewsNow managing director, in a press release.
"NI is asking us to accept restrictions on our freedom to link to publicly available information that it would not accept itself."
Last month NewsNow dropped links to the sites of 18 newspapers publishers from its subscription service ahead of the introduction of new charges by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) for aggregators and media monitoring services using newspaper website links in their paid-for services. The aggregator claimed it was also facing legal pressure to remove links from newspaper groups.
The aggregator also launched its Right2Link campaign calling for search engines, aggregators and other websites to be legally protected when linking to other online material using a headline, short quote or summary with attribution.
Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, Bartlett said he had not been notified of the exclusion, but had noticed NewsNow was no longer crawling the Times site two or three days ago.
When asked if the Times' move signaled a threat to the future of online aggregators, Bartlett said: "NewsNow and other aggregation businesses will ride the wave, but I am concerned that key freedoms people enjoy, to access publicly available information on the internet using an independent search engine of their choice, are being eroded."
"It's no great surprise that News International has taken this action, though it is pretty petty," Francis Ingham, director general of the Public Relations Consultation Association (PRCA), which has come out against the NLA's plans to charge for links to newspaper sites, told Journalism.co.uk.
"The newspapers tried and failed to make online content chargeable. It was their commercial decision to go for a free access model funded by advertising. If they think that model has failed, then it's up them to find a new one. But what is utterly unsustainable is some cobbled-together half-way house where there's still free access for readers, but the forwarding on of links somehow attracts a bill."
At time of writing News International had not responded to Journalism.co.uk's request for comment.
At an industry gathering last month, Les Hinton, CEO Dow Jones, which like News International is owned by News Corp, told newspaper owners to beware of false promises made by search engines and aggregators in terms of traffic and revenue generation.