Unauthorized Paid Apps Are Appropriating Top News Brands

The New York Times, BBC, CNET Among the Victims

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Memo to news publishers: Build a paid app or someone else will do it for you -- without giving you a cut.

The BBC Mobile News Reader: Unauthorized.
The BBC Mobile News Reader: Unauthorized.
As Time Inc. veteran editor Josh Quittner recently pointed out on his Netly blog, iPhone owners can finally fork over 99 cents to buy New York Times apps. Only neither of the two paid Times apps -- The New York Times Mobile Reader and New York Times Mobile News Reader -- have anything to do with The Times, which only offers free apps like this one so far. Both, however, are on the App Store's list of most-popular paid news apps.

"They are not authorized," a Times spokeswoman said, "and our legal department is looking into the matter."

And The Times isn't the only victim in the news business.

CNET discovered 99 cent CNET apps in the last month, according to a spokeswoman for CBS Interactive, which owns CNET. But CNET has not actually introduced any apps of its own. "We've contacted the creators and told them the apps need to be removed," the spokeswoman said.

The Guardian said this week that its legitimate $3.99 app has sold nearly 70,000 times since its introduction on December 14. But the BBC Mobile News Reader, currently No. 3 among most-popular paid news apps, has nothing to do with the BBC -- another news provider that actually doesn't offer any apps.

One of the developers behind some of these apps also sells a Fox News app and a CNN app.

Attempts to reach the developers themselves, by e-mail and by contact forms on their websites, were unsuccessful.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Mr. Quittner as a former Time Inc. editor. He is still with the company.
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