PRs Appeal UK High Court’s Pay-For-Links Ruling

The Public Relations Consultants Association is appealing the ruling made in November by a High Court judge, who said PRs should pay newspapers a copying license for receiving targeted intelligence via monitors like Meltwater.

Meltwater itself is not appealing at this point but will get its own second bite at the cherry – a Copyright Tribunal hearing it has brought against the Newspaper Licensing Agency that’s due for February.

David Pugh, managing director of the NLA, said: “We expected the PRCA to appeal against the High Court’s decision and we hope it is heard as soon as possible.

“The High Court ruled that businesses paying for Meltwater’s media monitoring service need to have an NLA licence and we hope that this ruling is upheld. This case is about the 5,000 companies trading in newspaper web content; not friends sharing links.”

The NLA, comprising the UK’s eight national newspaper publishers, has long charged cuttings agencies a license and their clients for reproductions of their pages, which are used by companies to keep track of mentions in the press. This January, the NLA introduced one license compelling web news tracking agencies to pay for “copying” and another requiring payment from recipients of this intelligence. Meltwater had disputed the latter on behalf of its clients.

The judge in the case had used very literal interpretations of what constitutes digital “copying” and receipt of “copies”, eg. everyone who visits a web page or receives an email is effectively copying that material to and storing it on their computer.

The newspapers expect to make £1 to £2 million from the licenses. See all our recent coverage on this.