NLA Web Licensing: Myths and Realities

Last week the Copyright Tribunal ruled in the case of the NLA versus Metlwater and the PRCA. After reading my blog on this, Andrew Hughes from the NLA got in touch and we asked him a few questions about the what the NLA means for PR professionals. Ben Smith: When do PR professionals need an NLA licence? And when do they not need an NLA licence? Andrew Hughes: In simple terms, NLA has extended its licences to cover paid for web-based media monitoring services – like Meltwater – that offer services similar to traditional media monitoring services like Gorkana and Precise. Clients of Meltwater will now need licences, just like clients of traditional agencies. Prices for the new web licences are lower than print licences, starting at £150 p/a for unlimited use for the smallest clients. The public relations companies (PRC) licence can be extended to cover website content for an additional £10 per client p/a for national titles. The NLA site will be updated to reflect new prices as soon as the interim Copyright Tribunal judgment is confirmed. However, newspapers and the NLA are keen not to intrude into normal web activity such as tweeting, blogging and occasional – or ad hoc – use of newspaper websites. NLA has extended its basic licence to cover systematic forwarding of links sourced from free sites (like Google News). BS: Great, but in practical terms, what does that mean? What do PR people need a licence for? And what do they not need a licence for? AH: The NLA have published the following five point guide to when a licence is and is not required: Content on national and local newspaper websites is, in general, available for the free use of individuals, but it is subject to copyright and to terms and conditions of use. If you are a private individual who sometimes sends a link to friends you do not need a licence.  In general you only need a licence or permission from the publisher if you are sending links for commercial gain or in some other systematic way. Whilst each individual website has its particular terms and conditions, the following terms are representative of those which apply to newspaper website content:
  1. Making personal links to website pages for reference is acceptable;
  2. Sending links is usually acceptable, except for commercial gain.  Sending a link to a colleague / friend is fine, as is putting a link to an article on an intranet or website;
  3. Regularly sending links as part of your paid work (e.g. monitoring websites for a client or manager) requires a licence;
  4. Making copies of the content of newspaper website content (eg multiple prints, PDFs, etc) requires publisher permission.
  5. Making copies of newspaper website content in the course of wider activity (for example building a commercial computer index) would require a licence, even if the content was not sent to a third party.
BS: What difference is the Supreme Court ruling likely to make to this case? And is that then the end game? AH: What happens next is that the Copyright Tribunal interim ruling gives NLA and Meltwater two months to finalise the licences – incorporating a few changes required by the court. So, from May, NLA expects to be completing licences with users and collecting fees, including the those from January 2010 that were due but where collection was suspended pending the ruling. NLA has confirmed that it will waive fees under the Public Relations Consultancy licence in respect of clients who are no longer active. You may have read about a Supreme Court appeal in February 2013. The court has agreed to review one aspect only of the earlier Court of Appeal case, which upheld copyright in headlines and supported the view that Meltwater clients need an NLA licence. This appeal is on whether viewing an article on a publishers’ website is covered by the ‘temporary copy exemption’ in the European Copyright Directive. It is impossible to predict the outcome, although this part of Meltwater’s case was completely rejected in our High Court and Court of Appeal cases. Andrew Hughes, Commercial Director, NLA