PR industry attacks Newspaper Licensing Agency over new scraping rules

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations is using “nonsensical” to describe Newspaper Licensing Agency plans to raise a levy on online news monitoring services. Its president Kevin Taylor, writing in PR Week, says NLA plans to charge commercial B2B aggregators that scrape web stories and links are “absolute nonsense”.

The agency, which charges news monitoring and PR companies to reproduce printed articles from 1,400 member newspapers, will in September extend its own remit to cover online services. Though it was reported at the time as effectively taxing those who hyperlink to newspaper stories, the agency later confirmed to us that isn’t targeting bloggers, consumer services or the likes of Google (NSDQ: GOOG), but the “industrial-scale copying of articles from newspaper sites, for private commercial purposes”.

It named Meltwater, which offers clients a searchable database of 90,000 online news sources in more than 110 countries, and Moreover as offenders in the “content scraping” sector. Moreover has threatened to sue, and it’s thought others may follow suit.

Taylor’s CIPR members face further bills if aggregators pass on licensing costs to their customers. But Taylor’s reading of the new licence may not be entirely fair: ” If I call someone and tell them a web address – no charge. But if I send them the web address by email – that requires an NLA licence.”