Get charged to see your own news coverage? Yes you can

Court rules Newspaper Licensing Agency can charge organisations to see their own coverage.

Bit of a weird one, this. The High Court has ruled that anyone getting clippings of online newspaper articles should pay a licence fee to the Newspaper Licensing Agency - which is owned by eight of the UK's largest newspaper publishers - even if they can only see the headline of the story, the line of text where their company's brand appears and the link to the article.

Clippings service and news aggregator Meltwater News had argued that while it is happy to pay a licensing fee to the NLA itself, its customers should not be considered to be infringing copyright for simply seeing where their company is mentioned in online newspaper clippings.

Newspapers don't have to pay anything to brand owners when they write about them, of course. Which means Nike may have to pay to see where its name is used in newspapers, while newspapers can use Nike's brand for free to help drive readers, web traffic and hence advertising revenues.

But a judgement issued yesterday by Mrs Justice Proudman ruled that end-users who paid aggregator Meltwater News to distribute online newspaper content in the form of a news monitoring service should also obtain a license to do so from the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA).

Meltwater's CEO Jorn Lyseggen told the NS that while he was disappointed by the decision, the firm intends to appeal, and that the main focus should be on a forthcoming Copyright Tribunal decision which will rule on the reasonableness of the NLA's licensing terms for online content.

"This High Court issue is just something that the NLA threw up to get in the way [of the Copyright Tribunal]," said Lyseggen. "It's a disappointing verdict which has dramatic consequences for the UK Internet ecosystem."

As Lyseggen pointed out, the ruling means that in theory users of the Internet should obtain a license from the NLA to view copyrighted material even when it is not protected behind a 'pay-wall'. "A user reading a poem online that is copyright could mean they need to pay a license fee, even though it has been posted online free," said Lyseggen. "There are very serious consequences of this verdict."

David Pugh, managing director of the NLA, welcomed today's ruling. "We hope this ruling will help ensure a fair share of web monitoring revenue for publishers and a fair media monitoring market," he said.

"Creating news content for the web is a substantial investment for publishers - it is therefore only right that they take a share when others are profiting from it. We estimate the total UK market for online news monitoring to be worth around £10 million," said Pugh.

But Meltwater's Lyseggen was unmoved. "We will appeal this verdict, we think this verdict is a misinterpretation of copyright law. If this ruling stands it will be a significant step back for the UK Internet ecosystem," he said.

"If the court upholds this decision then we think the courts need to take a closer look at copyright law and see if it needs to be more up-to-date for today's world," said Lyseggen.

He also noted that Meltwater News would object less if the license fees that the NLA wants to charge end users were lower. "In principle if the court rules that there must be a license then although we disagree, that's one thing," said Lyseggen. "But the licence should reflect the small amount of copyrighted material being accessed."

Justice Proudman granted permission to appeal her decision; Meltwater's CEO says it will.

 

Jason Stamper is NS technology correspondent and editor of Computer Business Review.

 

 

 

Jason Stamper is editor of Computer Business Review

Photo: Getty
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Rising crime and fewer police show the most damaging impacts of austerity

We need to protect those who protect us.

Today’s revelation that police-recorded crime has risen by 10 per cent across England and Wales shows one of the most damaging impacts of austerity. Behind the cold figures are countless stories of personal misery; 723 homicides, 466,018 crimes with violence resulting in injury, and 205,869 domestic burglaries to take just a few examples.

It is crucial that politicians of all parties seek to address this rising level of violence and offer solutions to halt the increase in violent crime. I challenge any Tory to defend the idea that their constituents are best served by a continued squeeze on police budgets, when the number of officers is already at the lowest level for more than 30 years.

This week saw the launch Chris Bryant's Protect The Protectors Private Member’s Bill, which aims to secure greater protections for emergency service workers. It carries on where my attempts in the last parliament left off, and could not come at a more important time. Cuts to the number of police officers on our streets have not only left our communities less safe, but officers themselves are now more vulnerable as well.

As an MP I work closely with the local neighbourhood policing teams in my constituency of Halifax. There is some outstanding work going on to address the underlying causes of crime, to tackle antisocial behaviour, and to build trust and engagement across communities. I am always amazed that neighbourhood police officers seem to know the name of every kid in their patch. However cuts to West Yorkshire Police, which have totalled more than £160m since 2010, have meant that the number of neighbourhood officers in my district has been cut by half in the last year, as the budget squeeze continues and more resources are drawn into counter-terrorism and other specialisms .

Overall, West Yorkshire Police have seen a loss of around 1,200 officers. West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart is clear about the result: "To say it’s had no effect on frontline policing is just a nonsense.” Yet for years the Conservatives have argued just this, with the Prime Minister recently telling MPs that crime was at a record low, and ministers frequently arguing that the changing nature of crime means that the number of officers is a poor measure of police effectiveness. These figures today completely debunk that myth.

Constituents are also increasingly coming to me with concerns that crimes are not investigated once they are reported. Where the police simply do not have the resources to follow-up and attend or investigate crimes, communities lose faith and the criminals grow in confidence.

A frequently overlooked part of this discussion is that the demands on police have increased hugely, often in some unexpected ways. A clear example of this is that cuts in our mental health services have resulted in police officers having to deal with mental health issues in the custody suite. While on shift with the police last year, I saw how an average night included a series of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Due to a lack of specialist beds, vulnerable patients were held in a police cell, or even in the back of a police car, for their own safety. We should all be concerned that the police are becoming a catch-all for the state’s failures.

While the politically charged campaign to restore police numbers is ongoing, Protect The Protectors is seeking to build cross-party support for measures that would offer greater protections to officers immediately. In February, the Police Federation of England and Wales released the results of its latest welfare survey data which suggest that there were more than two million unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12-month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon.

This is partly due to an increase in single crewing, which sees officers sent out on their own into often hostile circumstances. Morale in the police has suffered hugely in recent years and almost every front-line officer will be able to recall a time when they were recently assaulted.

If we want to tackle this undeniable rise in violent crime, then a large part of the solution is protecting those who protect us; strengthening the law to keep them from harm where possible, restoring morale by removing the pay cap, and most importantly, increasing their numbers.

Holly Lynch is the MP for Halifax. The Protect the Protectors bill will get its second reading on the Friday 20th October. 

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