M&S victory over NLA in copyright appeal

The Newspaper Licensing Authority (NLA) is to launch a fresh legal action against Marks and Spencer (M&S) following the retailer’s victory in the Court of Appeal over cuttings copyright.

The Newspaper Licensing Authority (NLA) is to launch a fresh legal

action against Marks and Spencer (M&S) following the retailer’s victory

in the Court of Appeal over cuttings copyright.



The ruling, which overturned a High Court verdict from January 1999,

said that M&S had not infringed typographical arrangement copyright by

circulating single articles since these were not a ’substantial’ part of

the whole publication. This means M&S does not need a licence from the

NLA and will take back licence fees from a joint account which had been

set aside pending the outcome.



While important, the result is only a partial victory for M&S: the Court

of Appeal judges expressed the opinion that the retailer’s actions in

copying the material went beyond what was required to report current

events to staff. These views could be significant in subsequent actions

between the two parties.



And the legal ping-pong will continue when the NLA challenges the Court

of Appeal ruling in the House of Lords. NLA chief executive Anthony

Rentoul also promised further legal action based on underlying literary

copyright.



The NLA will argue that, unless a cutting is written by a freelance

journalist, a company without an NLA licence will be infringing

copyright by distributing it.



But Cheri Lofland, director of communications at M&S, was sceptical

about the new action: ’If they are so certain about literary copyright,

why have they left it so long?’



Rentoul responded that proving an infringement of underlying literary

copyright will be a more time-consuming process since it involves

establishing authorship of all articles.



Rentoul also blasted M&S’s press statement recording the most recent

result as ’grossly misleading’ and ’a travesty of the court’s

decision’.



M&S vigorously denied the claims.



Leader, p10.



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