The NLA is owned by the 8 national newspaper publishing houses and generates B2B revenues for 1,300 national and regional publishers through licensing use of their content by press cuttings agencies (PCAs) and their client companies – mostly PR companies/PR functions. They took a case to The Court of Appeal which judged that there’s a need to have two licences for monitoring News ‘clippings’ – both online and off – one for paid for by online monitoring service providers and one for their customers (who get notifications of the fact that articles are there, and can buy/receive copies).
Managing Director David Pugh said in a statement: “The Court of Appeal has today unequivocally confirmed the ruling of the High Court that online newspapers are copyright protected. It has given a clear declaration that most (if not all) businesses subscribing to a media monitoring service that contains content from online newspapers require a licence. We welcome this ruling and the clarity it provides for publishers, media monitoring agencies and their clients. This positive interpretation of UK copyright law provides legal clarity and certainty for all players in the market. Publishers can be sure of fair royalties for the use of their content, suppliers of paid-for online monitoring services will benefit from a level playing field and clients of such services know that their licence provides a simple way to guarantee compliance with the law.”
Personally, it doesn’t affect me on the face of it – I check regularly online and know where my clients’ coverage is due to appear and go track down (and pay for) copies, but Simon Clark of Berwin Leighton Paisner (which represents the NLA and the publishers) commented that as copyright can subsist in a newspaper headline alone, most of the extracts from the articles sent by cuttings agency Meltwater electronically to their clients will infringe copyright unless their clients have a licence from the NLA or the publishers. Who knows how Meltwater will cope? They did a good job of standing up to be counted. [Added: my information came from the NLA - other reports contradict this view]
Maybe the NLA can claim it’s a good thoing – I have ambivalent feelings as people quoted in papers surely have a right to see what’s been said? But there’s a wider issue at stake. If this is the case, is Google going to be forced to make all of its customers (ie all of us) buy licenses to receive Google alerts next? This pebble in the pond could have wide reaching implications.
(The next stage in copyright clarity – for better or for worse – is the Copyright Tribunal review of the commercial aspects of newspaper website licensing. )