Online news headlines copyright fight goes on

The Newspaper Licensing Agency is facing a lengthy battle with press cuttings agency Meltwater over the use of aggregated online headlines after the Copyright Tribunal decided to mount a full investigation. A preliminary hearing was held by the tribunal on 25 February, with the results published on Friday in which the tribunal set the time-frame for a full trial looking into the issue. That hearing is now set for February 2011. The NLA estimates that charges for aggregated news headlines could be worth around GBP 1m a year to the UK newspaper industry. But this case could have much wider implications for the conduct of news aggregators, such as Google News, which will be a major issue as news producers increasingly seek to defend their own rights to charge for content. The NLA issued nearly 200 licences for the use of aggregated news headlines from newspaper publishers at the start of this year. But it has suspended taking the money for the licences pending the outcome of this case. Meltwater has objected to the charge for the licence, of GBP 10,000 a year, saying that if all the sources it took news headlines from worldwide charged such a fee it would be liable for fees of GBP 25m. The fee relates to the headlines and short text extracts from online newspaper stories, with hypertext links, which Meltwater sends out to its paying clients. Press cuttings agencies and the PR industry already pay the Newspaper Licensing Agency fees which are worth GBP 20m a year to the newspaper industry for reproducing articles in full. Meltwater believes fees shouldn’t apply for the headlines and short story extracts which it takes


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