NEWS: Cuttings dispute hots up

The furore surrounding Newspaper Licensing Agency moves to enforce copyright payment for press cutting copying has intensified.

The furore surrounding Newspaper Licensing Agency moves to enforce

copyright payment for press cutting copying has intensified.



Following last month’s launch of the NLA drive, groups representing

local government in England and Wales are preparing to fight for special

terms. The Association of County Councils, the Association of

Metropolitan Authorities and the Association of District Councils,

believe that they should not be charged at the same two pence per copy

rate as commercial organisations.



Beryl Evans, ACC head of communications, said the associations were

meeting this week to prepare their case for negotiation. She said that

providing press cuttings to officials and elected representatives was a

vital part of the democratic process.



Anthony Rentoul, chairman of the NLA, which represents all national

newspaper publishers, except News International, said that, although the

association was not charging charities or primary and secondary schools,

it did not think it was appropriate to give other groups preferential

treatment.



Both the PRCA and Institute of Public Relations have expressed concern

at the NLA initiative. Fionnuala Tennyson, IPR public relations

manager, said that although the Institute accepted payment was necessary

under the law, it had written to the NLA with certain key concerns.

These focused on the size of the two pence fee itself and the fact that,

as the NLA did not represent all national newspapers groups, new members

might cause fees to rise.



Tennyson expressed concern about the NLA’s ‘aggressive’ approach. She

said that, after the association sent out literature stressing that

imprisonment or heavy fines could follow non-compliance, the IPR

received many calls from ‘frightened’ members.



She said that the Institute now intended to draft a definitive policy

statement for its members.



Quentin Bell, chairman of the PRCA, said the NLA had acted unreasonably

and had employed ‘immature and unnecessary bully boy tactics’. He said

the PRCA intended to canvass its members for their opinions and to

disseminate its own views to them.



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