THURSDAY 5 JUN 2014 3:50 PM


Today a crucial ruling was made affecting online copyright infringement laws, an issue that is important for the PR industry in particular, but that also has repercussions for every internet user in the EU.

Five years ago, in a bid to keep online copywriting laws in check, the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), and media monitoring company Meltwater, waged legal war with the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). Today, in the Court of Justice of the EU, they won that battle.

The case was initiated when the NLA claimed that “cached” copies automatically saved on a computer while browsing the web contravened copyright law. The PRCA and Meltwater sought to keep online media browsers from unwittingly infringing these laws.

The CJEU accepted all of the arguments submitted concluding that browsing online does not require authorisation from the copyright holder.

PRCA director general Francis Ingham says, “We are utterly delighted that the CJEU has accepted all of our arguments against the NLA, which represents eight national newspapers. The Court of Justice, like the Supreme Court before them, understands that the NLA’s attempts to charge for reading online content do not just affect the PR world, but the fundamental rights of all EU citizens to browse the Internet. This is a huge step in the right direction for the courts as they seek ways to deal with the thorny issues of Internet use and copyright law.”

An alternative verdict could have resulted in publishers being able to apply to claim copyright infringement whenever a link is viewed on a browser.

David Pugh, managing director for NLA media access, comments on the outcome, “The court cases have been critical in confirming copyright principles. Now that these principles have been established NLA will continue to work closely with Meltwater to supply them and their clients with appropriate licences for their use of publisher content.”

Although the PRCA initially suffered defeats in the High Court, last year the UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of the PRCA and Meltwater’s position. In addition, they referred the ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union as they believed it would have impact far wider than the UK.

“We are pleased that the Court of Justice has stepped in to set an important precedent for internet freedom across the European Union,” says Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater.


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