Newspaper Licensing Agency starts High Court action to resolve licensing issues

The Newspaper Licensing Agency has today started High Court action aimed at resolving legal issues affecting its controversial web licensing scheme.

NLA managing director: David Pugh
NLA managing director: David Pugh

The NLA is currently waiting for the outcome of a Copyright Tribunal, brought by Meltwater News earlier this year. The PRCA announced it was legally intervening in the Copyright Tribunal case in February.

The Copyright Tribunal is expected to rule on the commercial aspects of NLA web licensing, but will not meet to review the terms until next February.

The High Court action will decide on the legality of the web licences.

NLA managing director, David Pugh said: ‘We believe that clarity on all aspects of our web licences needs to be achieved as quickly and unambiguously as possible.

‘The objective of the action we have initiated today is to achieve as swift and complete a resolution as possible for all parties - publishers, media monitoring companies and their clients. By seeking legal clarity on aggregator and end-user licences, the NLA aims to support the Copyright Tribunal process and end uncertainty in the market.'

The NLA is seeking a ruling on whether aggregators can copy and distribute online newspaper content and if end-users can receive and use that content.

The two counterparties are Meltwater News, an aggregator, and the PRCA, a representative body of the PR industry, who are also parties to the Copyright Tribunal process.

The NLA caused anger among the PR industry when it announced plans last year to seek payment for paid-for web articles.

Licensing for digital newspaper content began on 1 January 2010.

The PRCA and Meltwater issued a joint statement which said: 'Having initially learned about the NLA's decision to take Meltwater and the PRCA to court through the press, both parties have only just received the papers concerning this claim. While we understand that the industry will want clarification on this issue, we do not see this development as cause for concern.

'Naturally, we are reviewing the papers in consultation with our legal advisors. But not wishing to prejudice our case with the Copyright Tribunal, which we believe to be strong, we will study the NLA's claim before responding.'

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