NLA v Meltwater: a victory for content owners
In a two year battle the Newspaper Licensing Authority (NLA) has been fighting to maintain the proportion of its £20m revenues raised from charging news aggregators for using publishers’ content. The battle appears to have resulted in a vindication for the The NLA’s policies and confirmation content does indeed belong to publishers.
In his excellent copyrightblog.co.uk (click http://copyrightblog.co.uk/2012/02/15/disruptors-disrupted-part-two/ for full version) Dominic Young, former chairman of NLA writes:
The NLA and Meltwater multi-pronged litigation passed a new milestone today. To remind yourself of the last one, and to get a bit more background on the case, have a look at a post I did previously.
This time the it was the copyright tribunal’s turn to issue a decision.
Meltwater were quick to claim victory. They called it “…a major decision in favour of Meltwater in the UK”. Elsewhere they said that they had been successful in reducing fees which would otherwise have been over 120.11€million over the next three years.
It’s a funny interpretation of victory. It’s hard not to think of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, gamely fighting on with no limbs left. Meltwater’s position has at various times been to deny that they need a licence, deny that their clients need licences, deny that what they do infringes copyright, state that what they do benefits newspapers because of all the traffic they get and variously claim that this case criminalises web browsing.
They forced this issue to litigation in the first place, by refusing to take an NLA licence and making a referral to the copyright tribunal. That litigation has now taken them to the high court, the appeal court, the copyright tribunal and is still lumbering towards the supreme court. Costs run to millions of pounds.
So far no court or tribunal has agreed that they don’t need a licence, no court or tribunal has accepted that their clients don’t need licences, no court or tribunal has backed their view that their business exploiting other peoples property doesn’t require the agreement of those whose property they exploit