FRIDAY 10 DEC 2010 3:40 PM


The PRCA has announced this afternoon that it will appeal the decision of the High Court taken in November to allow the NLA to charge copyright licensing fees for online content.

The case had been taken to the High Court after the NLA introduced fees for online media monitoring and news aggregator services in January.

The media monitors Meltwater, supported by the PRCA, referred the NLA to a Copyright Tribunal, meeting in February 2011. However, the decision of the High Court that copyright did subsist in online content and in the format in which media monitors supply this to customers seemed to have set back the claims of PRCA and Meltwater.

In announcing the appeal, Francis Ingham, chief executive of the PRCA, said, “We believe the High Court’s decision to be fundamentally flawed. We believe it risks putting an end to the freedom with which information can be shared on the Internet.

“We anticipate that even if our appeal is unsuccessful, the Copyright Tribunal will find that the terms of the license and the fees sought from customers are unreasonable and so will reduce the fees. We are proud to be representing, with Meltwater, the interests of the PR industry.”

The NLA are hopeful, however, that the initial verdict will be upheld. David Pugh, managing director of the NLA, comments “We expected the appeal, and we hope it is heard as soon as possible. The High Court ruled that businesses paying for Meltwater’s media monitoring service need to have an NLA licence and we hope that this ruling is upheld. This case is about the 5,000 companies trading in newspaper web content; not friends sharing links.”

Steve Kunciewicz, an intellectual property and media lawyer based at HBJ Gateley Wareing, believes the case will have long-term repercussions for the PRCA and its members, the operating system of the NLA, and across industries external to publishing. "This ruling shows that the current copyright system doesn't fit with Meltwater's business model. Whereas previously copyright existed in an extract of 11 words or more, the ruling that headlines possess their own copyright protection is a major shift in policy. The law is struggling to keep up with the ease with which information can now be copied and transmitted."

Francis Ingham, PRCA Chief Executive, explaining the PRCA's reasoning behind their appeal

- "High Court rules against Meltwater and PRCA" (Communicate magazine, November 2010)

- "Critics attack NLA's license fees for smaller agencies" (Communicate magazine, March 2010)

- "Times Online blocks news aggregators, NLA suspends invoicing" (Communicate magazine, January 2010)