In December, the NLA controversially struck a deal with all but two press cuttings agencies and web aggregators for the licensing of paid-for business-to-business monitoring of web content.
While the new web licences come into force on 1 January 2010, the NLA has now announced that it is suspending invoicing until the outcome of the Copyright Tribunal brought by Meltwater News.
PRCA director general Francis Ingham said of the news: ‘This is a clear admission by the NLA that it is uncertain its proposed new licence is legal. Meltwater's intervention has transformed the landscape. The NLA's house of cards appears to be falling down and nobody will mourn its demise.’
NLA managing director David Pugh explained the move: ‘We do not want any licensed users of newspaper web monitoring to be disadvantaged by Meltwater’s action. Clients of all monitoring agencies should be on a level playing field.’
If the tribunal rules in favour of the NLA, then all agencies – including Meltwater – will be invoiced for fees backdated to 1 January 2010.
CIPR past president Kevin Taylor said: 'We're delighted that the NLA has decided to suspend invoicing for its ill-considered new web licence. We fully support Meltwater's actions and have already had meetings ourselves with the Government's Intellectual Property Office and with the Copyright Tribunal.'
He added: 'These charges are not simply unfair and unjust, they are unjustified and applied indiscriminately. We hope these invoices never see the light of day and would urge the NLA to bin them, and the whole scheme now.'