Online news aggregator Newsnow.co.uk has been threatened with legal action by UK newspapers if it does not introduce new controls on how it links to their articles.
Newsnow automatically posts news links from websites across the world on its site and arranges them by subject matter.
Managing director Struan Bartlett has since written an open letter to newspaper heads.
The letter names The Times, The Sun, The Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Daily Express as newspapers involved.
Bartlett said in his letter: "Linking is free, and links (and the sites that provide them) are at the heart of the web. They are the means by which the web works. We don't think linking is something you can, or should be allowed to, control or charge for.
"Nor should you want to control linking. Links market your content to readers. Abolish them, and readers won't all type in your homepage address. They will go elsewhere. We don't believe we are alone in this view. Many website traffic managers, journalists and editors within your own organisations clearly share this view. We know, because they've told us directly that they strongly value our linking to your websites."
He called on the newspapers to stop the legal threats, recognise the place and value of legitimate news aggregation websites in today's news ecosystem, commit to upholding the freedom to link, and support those of your readers who wish to find links to your websites on Newsnow.