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A copyright tribunal ruling yesterday states that business users of online news aggregation services must pay licence fees to the Newspaper Licencing Association (NLA), despite Meltwater and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) cutting the burden by 90%.

Yesterday’s decision is part of a series of cases brought by software company Meltwater and the PRCA, which are challenging the NLA demand for fees for reading “freely available news”.

The NLA has argued, and won the case, that news aggregators and software firms such as Google News should be required to pay a license. It also believes that end users of these services that require it for business services, such as PR firms, should also pay a levy.

According to Meltwater and the PRCA, the interpretation of this ruling could mean that “anyone sending an email to a work colleague with a news headline, browsing a free news service or sending a tweet with news at work requires a licence from the publishers, without such licence they infringe copyright.”

The ruling reduced the rate of the fee but still requires end users to pay a license for the services.

Meltwater is now calling for UK copyright law to modernise in order to be compatible with the way people and businesses use the internet.

Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater, said, “The ability to browse the internet without fear of infringing copyright has always been a fundamental internet principle. Society is not served by these rulings in UK and it seems that this interpretation of the law fundamentally clashes with how millions of people use the Internet every day. Meltwater is a strong believer in copyright and a strong supporter of a sustainable, independent press. However, the UK needs a copyright law that allow its citizens to use the Internet without fear of unintentional infringement.”

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Published 15 February, 2012 by NMA Staff

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