House of Lords dismisses NLA copyright case

The Newspaper Licensing Agency - the body that sanctions the use of

press cuttings - this week claimed it was business as usual despite

losing a major court case against retailer Marks & Spencer.



The NLA had sued M&S for reproducing articles, claiming typographical

copyright had been infringed.



In a judgement delivered last Thursday, the House of Lords dismissed the

NLA's appeal against the earlier legal decision that such copyright did

not exist on individual articles.



The five-judge panel decided unanimously that typographical copyright -

relating to the design of a page - should only apply to complete pages

and not to individual articles.



Under licensing arrangements, those copying articles are charged for the

typographical rights to reproduce the page.



This judgement means that only literary rights arise for individual

articles. While the publisher owns the typographical rights to a page,

the ownership of literary rights is less clear cut, with journalists and

columnists entitled to royalties in some instances.



Trademark lawyer Barbara Cookson, of City firm Nabarro Nathanson, said

the business model of the NLA had been 'undermined' by the Lords'

decision.



'Why else would they have taken the case to the House of Lords at huge

expense if it wouldn't have serious results?' she asked.



The NLA has now launched a separate case against M&S pursuing a literary

rights claim.



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