Opinion: From our Readers - Media also have a legal obligation

The CIPR is unhappy about the ruling in favour of the NLA over Meltwater (prweek.com/uk, 26 November).

However, I believe we have reached the point where something bigger and more significant needs to be done.

While I fully support the newspapers in their desire to be fairly rewarded for their work, I also support the rights of the ordinary person (and organisation) to be able to respond to media articles and allegations.

The Press Complaints Commission code only works if you know that someone has written about you - most of the time, newspapers that print non-compliant articles get away with it, because the person does not find out until it is too late. There ought to be a legal obligation on the media to notify anyone they write about, and allow them to retain one copy for their records without further payment of a fee. This would have been unworkable 20 years ago, but now that virtually everything is online and obtainable on Google News, media would be able to claim they had made such a notification by simply posting it on a website.

Of course, the judge's ruling in this case, although he indicated he thinks people could still use Google, would essentially shut that avenue down as well.

The mad thing is, if you are considering legal action, then you have a right to make copies of articles without payment of a fee in preparation of your case.

Is it time that Meltwater et al repackaged themselves as 'pre-legal monitoring agencies?'. Let's hope not.

Martin Turner, director of comms at NHS Warwickshire and owner of Martin M Turner Public Relations and Creative

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