The 1709 Blog

Copyright Tribunal ruling makes it clear that the UK’s copyright regulation is on the head-on collision with the common Internet user. Everyday functions such as looking for information and sharing it at the job now require a license from the Newspaper Licensing Association (NLA). Within a get for business, Meltwater Group and the PRCA (Public Relations Consultants Association) could actually convince the Copyright Tribunal to slash the NLA’s suggested permit fees by 90 %.

Sadly today’s verdict is a partial victory for the UK Internet community. Going forward, it is clear that UK clients of online information monitoring services will need a license contract with the NLA and pay copyright fees. That is also the entire case for commercial UK clients of any information monitoring seller including Google News.

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During the proceedings, the NLA stated that it has been mandated by its owners and intends to go after licensing of UK business users of Google News. These UK court rulings make millions of UK citizens lawbreakers. According to the courts, sending a contact to a colleague with a news headline, browsing a free of charge information service or sending a Tweet with news at work requires a license from the publishers, without such license they infringe copyright.

UK copyright rules needs an overhaul to make it compatible with the web. Without such modernization, every day millions of individuals will unintentionally break the law. Today’s decision in the Copyright Tribunal is part of an ongoing series of cases where Meltwater and the PRCA challenged the NLA on its high fees for reading freely available news. In the ruling, the Copyright Tribunal decided with Meltwater and the PRCA’s contention that the NLA’s proposed licensing scheme had not been fair and required amendment.

Nine points were challenged by Meltwater and the Tribunal agreed with Meltwater on seven of them. By fighting this licensing scheme, the PRCA and Meltwater were successful in reducing the fees for those businesses totaling more than £100 million over the next three years. The savings for Meltwater clients are more than £24 million in the same period alone. “The ability to browse the Internet without fear of infringing copyright has always been a fundamental Internet principle. Society is not served by these rulings in UK and it appears that this interpretation of the law fundamentally clashes with how a huge number of people make an online search every day,” says Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater.

“Meltwater is a strong believer in copyright and a strong supporter of a sustainable, impartial press. Meltwater and the PRCA continue to advocate for a modern copyright rules for the united kingdom. Importantly, the ruling is exclusive to the UK in support of influences people sharing and reading news in that country.

As recognized by the Copyright Tribunal, copyright is governed by national legislation and users of press monitoring services outside UK aren’t at the mercy of NLA licensing fees today. Meltwater and the PRCA have stood in challenging the NLA’s licensing structure both in the courts only, and in the Copyright Tribunal, on behalf of PR firms, in-house PR groups, and all other business users of the web.