TUESDAY 8 NOV 2011 5:29 PM


In a development to the ongoing case over newspaper licensing fees, the UK Supreme Court has announced that it will allow Meltwater Group and the PRCA to appeal the most recent ruling concerning the Newspaper Licensing Agency’s proposed web end user licensing scheme.

The appeal will centre around the aspect of the recent ruling concerning “temporary copies”, which interpreted UK copyright law as meaning that copyright exists in the action of looking at webpages on a computer.

The case dates back to January 2010, when the NLA introduced fees for online media monitoring services and news aggregator services. Since then, Meltwater and the PRCA have challenged the license scheme through the British courts over the “double licensing” stipulation, which requires both the monitoring agency and the end-user to pay a license fee.

Meltwater and the PRCA’s appeal will be aimed at protecting internet users – Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater, said after the ruling that “millions of people” could be breaking the law according to the new decisions on copyright.

The connection between temporary copies and the dispute between the NLA, and Meltwater and the PRCA, lies in the fact that news aggregator and media monitoring services now provide links to online news sources. The NLA has introduced licenses for providing and receiving these links that are similar to the licenses that were previously needed for media monitoring services when they were providing physical cuttings to clients.

“We’re delighted that we have been granted leave to appeal the decision,” says Richard Ellis, communications director of the PRCA. “We believe that the law as it stands is absurd, and that the act of viewing content on the internet should not de facto be the same as making copies of content. The restriction to commercial use exists in the NLA’s terms and conditions, not in the legal judgment – other people could interpret the ruling differently, hence the danger to non-commercial users of the internet.”

The NLA is confident that the ruling on temporary copying will not be applied by the courts to ordinary internet users. Managing director David Pugh comments: “This case is about the commercial exploitation of newspaper content by commercial operators in ways which are not permitted by the websites and, as the courts have now confirmed, by copyright law.”

Should the appeal go ahead, the next step in the legal process will be the decision of the Copyright Tribunal, which recently heard both sides’ arguments on the exact terms of the contract between Meltwater and the NLA. The Tribunal’s ruling is expected in early 2012.

Previously in Communicate:

- September 2011


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