MONDAY 11 JAN 2010 9:19 AM


The Newspaper Licensing Authority last week suspended its invoicing to online news aggregators and web clipping firms following a successful attempt by online cuttings agency Meltwater to refer the matter to a copyright tribunal.

The NLA has no plans to abandon the proposed charges, but is delaying sending out the invoices until the tribunal provides clarification. "We are confirming that licensing is effective from January 1 2010 and that charges will be incurred from that date – but we are suspending invoicing until the tribunal has ruled," said Andrew Hughes, NLA’s commercial director.

The NLA’s proposals have attracted controversy since first being suggested and its recent announcement was warmly received by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. CIPR Past President Kevin Taylor said, "We're delighted that the NLA has decided to suspend invoicing for its ill-considered new web licence pending the outcome of a Copyright Tribunal brought about by Meltwater. We fully support Meltwater's actions and have already had meetings ourselves with the Government's Intellectual Property Office and with the Copyright Tribunal.

“These charges are not simply unfair and unjust, they are unjustified and applied indiscriminately. We hope these invoices never see the light of day and would urge the NLA to bin them, and the whole scheme now."

Meanwhile, in a separate move that highlights the increasing desire of mainstream newspaper owners to monetise their online content, online news aggregator NewsNow has found its aggregation site,, blocked from Times Online. Struan Bartlett, managing director and chairman of NewsNow said, “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 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.”

Bartlett has helped found a new pressure group, called Right2Link, to create, forward and follow links. According to its website, its objective is to preserve links as a public amenity, and to preserve the internet freedoms associated with linking to web pages.