NLA wins High Court case against Meltwater News and PRCA over web licences

The Newspaper Licensing Agency has won its case against Meltwater News and the PRCA over the validity of the NLA's digital licences.

NLA MD: David Pugh
NLA MD: David Pugh

In a judgement issued this morning Mrs Justice Proudman ruled that web links taken from online news sources are protected by copyright law and that Meltwater News would infringe publishers' copyright if they aggregated online links without an NLA licence.

Meltwarter today said it believed the judgment undermined the basic principles of use of the internet and was 'a wrong interpretation of the law'.

NLA MD David Pugh welcomed the ruling and said: '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'.

Meltwater added it had obtained permission to appeal the 'disappointing' High Court judgment.

The company statement continued: 'This decision is anyway only an interlude towards the Copyright Tribunal decision which will rule on the reasonableness of the NLA's licensing terms for online content which has been at the very core of Meltwater's case against NLA from the beginning.'

In February the PRCA legally intervened in support of Meltwater on the Copyright Tribunal, with PRCA director general Francis Ingham saying at the time: 'In the face of their aggression, it's not good enough just to talk tough with the NLA - we need to act tough too.'

The Copyright Tribunal is expected to meet in February 2011.

At the beginning of the 2010 the NLA issued licences covering the use of online headlines and links from news sites, with all aggregation firms signing up for a licence except Meltwater.

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