Newspaper Licensing Agency launches code of conduct

The organisation that licenses news clippings has published a code of conduct for the first time.

NLA: MD David Pugh
NLA: MD David Pugh
The Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) code has been released to the public amid government plans to force the move on collecting agencies more broadly.

Included within the new guidelines are the resolution to respond to queries within a maximum of five working days and the pledge ‘to make the process of accessing and using newspaper content as quick, easy and economic as possible'.

The news has been met with cynicism by the PRCA’s chief executive Francis Ingham, who said that in the past the NLA was a ‘by-word for aggressive and heavy-handed bullying'.

Ingham’s words come after the PRCA and Meltwater Group successfully brought a case against the NLA earlier this year, forcing it to cut its fees for sharing online news content.

He added that the process, which was going out to consultation with PRCA members, should be bolstered by a stronger independent element in following up complaints.

However, the NLA’s MD David Pugh pointed to the role of an ombudsman in the complaints process and said that surveys of licensees showed high approval ratings.

Pugh said: ‘We’ve been working to a code of conduct for the past four to five years - we’ve just not published one before. We follow up where any custome has an issue - customer first service is something we take very seriously.’

Last month, the Government announced it would give collecting societies, which also includes groups such as the Performing Rights Society, a year to introduce a code of conduct.

The decision follows an extensive consultation process as part of the Intellectual Property Office’s Hargreaves Review.

The CIPR’s director of policy and comms Phil Morgan added: ‘This is a welcome opportunity for the profession to have a say on how the NLA operates. We will make sure our members help shape our response.’

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