Court of Appeal upholds ruling that online news is protected by copyright

The Court of Appeal has this morning upheld the ruling of the High Court on the Newspaper Licensing Agency's newspaper website licensing scheme.

David Pugh: judgment provides ‘clear vindication’ of NLA’s decision
David Pugh: judgment provides ‘clear vindication’ of NLA’s decision

The judgement delivered today has ruled that displaying a web page on a computer is not exempt from copyright, despite the PRCA arguing that agencies should be free to receive online media monitoring services without incurring hefty charges.

Meltwater Group & the PRCA brought the case to the Appeals Court after a High Court judgement issued last November, which ruled that web links taken from online news sources are protected by copyright law.

However, the Court of Appeal has agreed to soften the former High Court ruling by judging that it will be very rare that headlines alone are copyrightable.

PRCA chief executive Francis Ingham said that this development is a ‘significant improvement’.

He added: ‘However, the issue that we’ve asked for clarification on is the implication that millions of people are now infringing copyright. It raises broader issues about how the Internet works.’

Meltwater CEO Jorn Lyseggen added that the PRCA and Meltwater will now be focused on the forthcoming Copyright Tribunal review, which will look into the commercial aspects of newspaper website licensing.

He added: ‘We feel confident that the Copyright Tribunal will find the NLA’s scheme over-reaching and unreasonable.’

Meanwhile, the NLA has welcomed the judgment.

NLA MD David Pugh said: ‘This positive interpretation of UK copyright law provides legal clarity and certainty for all players in the market. Publishers can be sure of fair royalties for the use of their content, suppliers of paid-for online monitoring services will benefit from a level playing field and clients of such services know that their licence provides a simple way to guarantee compliance with the law.’

Pugh added that the judgement also provides a ‘clear vindication’ of the NLA’s decision to have two licences, one for paid-for online monitoring service providers and one for their customers.

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