NLA announces 'simpler' licensing scheme - but PRCA says it is more confusing

A new Newspaper Licensing Agency licensing structure comes into force this week, which the copyright body said is simpler and provides greater certainty for agencies over their costs, but the PRCA has described the move as "smoke and mirrors" and vowed to challenge it.

The NLA: Has devised a new licensing fee structure (Pic credit: PhotoEdit / Alamy Stock Photo)
The NLA: Has devised a new licensing fee structure (Pic credit: PhotoEdit / Alamy Stock Photo)
Agencies must currently sign up to one of two NLA licensing regimes, depending on their size, to share news clippings with their clients.

Those with up to five staff and three clients usually apply for the NLA Introductory PR Licence, at £189 per client email address supplied, while agencies with more staff and clients apply for the Standard PR licence.

Under the new regime, which begins on Wednesday, agencies can also apply for the newly created PR Client Service Licence at a cost of £194 per client email address supplied.

When agencies grow beyond this size, they must apply for the Standard Licence as well as additional licences if they wish to post online content on their own website.

The NLA, which covers a number of national newspapers and magazines, including the Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard, said the new regime combined the simplicity of the Introductory Licence with the comprehensive rights associated with the Standard Licence.

It said that current licence holders will have the choice of remaining on their existing NLA licence or transferring across to the new licence on their licence anniversary.

David Pugh, managing director NLA media access, said: "In 2014 we responded to an agency request to review our current PR consultancy licences. Working with the PR industry, we believe the new licence will create a simpler system that offers agencies, including smaller ones, simpler administration and greater certainty over their costs."   

The NLA said it had consulted the industry and had secured the support of the CIPR.

Matt Appleby, chair of the CIPR policy and campaigns committee, said: "This new simplified structure for PR agencies is a welcome first step in the right direction in addressing the complexities of copyright licensing in the UK."

But the PRCA continued previous criticism of the NLA and its regime. Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA, described the NLA as "parasitic" and said the industry body would not support the new licence.

He said: "This is smoke, mirrors and spin: introducing yet another additional licence will simply confuse agencies even more." Ingham also pointed out that the new regime would be irrelevant for the vast majority of the industry, saying that only eight per cent of agencies employed five or fewer staff.

He added: "The PRCA has no intention of being the NLA’s useful idiots by endorsing its behaviour. The NLA is simply a parasite on our industry. We should have the courage to say so. Rather than collaborate with the NLA, the PRCA will continue to challenge it."

Ingham recalled the PRCA’s court victory against the NLA in 2014 and said the purpose of professional bodies should be to dismantle the licensing fee system altogether rather than endorse it.

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