Newspaper Licensing Agency welcomes High Court ruling

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The Independent Online

The Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) welcomed today’s High Court judgement on its web licensing scheme for paid-for newspaper monitoring.

The managing director, David Pugh, said: “We welcome today’s ruling from the High Court and are pleased that the Court recognises that newspaper publishers’ web content is protected by copyright law. We hope this ruling will help ensure a fair share of web monitoring revenue for publishers and a fair media monitoring market.

“Creating news content for the web is a substantial investment for publishers - it is therefore only right that they take a share when others are profiting from it. We estimate the total UK market for online news monitoring to be worth around £10 million. As newspapers’ content is central to that market, we believe publishers should earn a fair share of revenues from paid-for monitoring.

“The NLA has always sought to foster a thriving market in news monitoring and today’s ruling will further that aim. We have been resolute in our aim of generating value for publishers and encouraging a legitimate media monitoring industry that respects publishers’ copyright.

“Now we have legal clarity, we look forward to the Copyright Tribunal decisions on the commercial aspects of web licensing. The NLA would like to see as swift and complete a resolution as possible for all parties – publishers, media monitoring companies and their clients. Like the NLA, the 22 licensed monitoring companies want clarity to develop their businesses.

The NLA sought a ruling from the High Court on whether users of paid-for aggregator services can receive, copy and distribute newspaper web content without a licence. The counter party was the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), a representative body of the PR industry.

Meltwater News, an aggregator, supported by the PRCA, has also referred the NLA scheme to the Copyright Tribunal, which will meet to review the commercial terms for both end end-user and aggregator licences in February 2011.

Simon Clark, Head of Intellectual Property at Berwin Leighton Paisner, led the legal team advising the NLA and the newspapers claimants. Simon commented: “This decision is significant for the publishing industry. Firstly, it confirms that copyright can subsist in a newspaper headline. Secondly, a company who pays for an online media monitoring service requires a licence from the newspapers or the NLA to click on a link to an article on the newspaper’s website or to receive text extracts taken from an article.”