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Internet users now have the right to browse online freely without the threat of infringing copyright law, after the PRCA and Meltwater won their case against the Newspaper Licensing Agency at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The court battle began back in 2010, and ended after the CJEU accepted the arguments put forward by the PRCA and Meltwater, stating that browsing and viewing articles online does not require authorisation from the copyright holder.
The judgement means that Internet users are now protected by the temporary copy exception of EU copyright law when they read or browse content online.
PRCA Director General Francis Ingham said: “We are utterly delighted that the CJEU has accepted all of our arguments against the NLA, which represents eight national newspapers. The Court of Justice, like the Supreme Court before them, understands that the NLA’s attempts to charge for reading online content do not just affect the PR world, but the fundamental rights of all EU citizens to browse the Internet. This is a huge step in the right direction for the courts as they seek ways to deal with the thorny issues of Internet use and copyright law.”
“We are pleased that we have stood up for the PR industry –along with Meltwater - when everyone else rolled over.”
Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater, said: “We are pleased that the European Court of Justice has stepped in to set an important precedent for Internet freedom across the European Union. This ruling serves the interests of business, technology and millions of Internet users and ensures protection from being accused of copyright infringement.”
In April 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that anyone should be free to visit and read or browse a newspaper website without fear of infringing copyright law. In his judgment, Lord Jonathan Sumption explained it was desirable that any decision on the point of accessing such content be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
However, the NLA's David Pugh emphasised that "the result of the case has no implications for the licences NLA issues for the present web-monitoring services operated by Meltwater and other media monitoring agencies, end user clients who pay for their current monitoring service still require a licence for the content they receive. "