Yesterday, the NLA announced changes to the licences PR agencies must currently sign up to if they want to share news clippings with their clients. The NLA said it had consulted the industry, and the CIPR said the "simplified structured" was a "welcome first step in the right direction in addressing the complexities of copyright licensing in the UK".
However, the PRCA - which referred to the NLA in its statement as "simply a parasite on our industry" and has previously successfully taken it to a European court – called the announcement "smoke, mirrors and spin" and said the new licence would "simply confuse agencies even more".
The issue was duly chosen as the subject of the weekly #PRtalk discussion, hosted by @PRtalkUK on Twitter. CIPR chief executive Alastair McCapra and PRCA director general Francis Ingham both contributed.
Ingham was quick to accuse his counterpart of having been "used" by the NLA.
McCapra said that the NLA was a legitimate, lawful body and that not engaging with it was not an option for the PR industry.
Ingham also accused his counterpart of lacking knowledge on the issue, and said he was angry at the CIPR having held "secret talks" with the NLA
CIPR PR and policy manager Andrew Ross told PRWeek that it was "no secret" that the CIPR had been in dialogue with the NLA and other relevant bodies for seven years. Ross also said that in January when conversations about the new licence had begun, the CIPR had told the NLA it would be wise to liaise with the PRCA over the matter.
On Twitter, Ross clarified the CIPR's position.
@PRCAIngham to be transparent, we never signed off on anything including our logo. We supplied a quote. Either way, we both know it's 1/2— Andrew Ross (@AJMRoss) November 17, 2015
@PRCAIngham not a co-badged anything, we were approached upon consultation which isn't uncommon, saying otherwise is misleading 2/2— Andrew Ross (@AJMRoss) November 17, 2015
Ingham also played down suggestions of hostility between PRCA and CIPR, saying it was the NLA which was the enemy. The @NLA_Ltd account did not contribute to the debate.
PRCA and CIPR gearing up for war over NLA. Less terrifying than it sounds.— Martin McGrath (@martinmcgrath) November 17, 2015
Twitter users and the PRCA and CIPR agreed there was scope for future debate – with both bodies' leaders declaring themselves available.