A new development in the ‘pay per click’ links licensing conflict in the UK is about to move things up a level, one designed to raise awareness among members of Parliament and which might influence the future of a system that has won little support in the public relations industry.
To concisely re-cap: from early 2010, anyone copying and supplying UK newspaper web content to others for a fee (monitoring or press clippings agencies to PR agencies, for instance, and from those PR agencies to their clients) must acquire a license from the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), a body that’s owned by the mainstream media.
Software and services company Meltwater (which provides media monitoring services to PR agencies and others) filed a legal challenge at the end of 2009; the Court of Appeal in London ruled on that challenge earlier this month, the detail of which they’ll publish soon.
Now, Meltwater and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) have prepared a template letter (which I’ve uploaded to Scribd and embedded below) that anyone with an opinion on this issue can use as a means of raising its profile with their MPs.
One key element in the letter focuses on the broader issue which is to do with copyright law (and, in my view, to do with propping up an unfair revenue model in the mainstream media when fairer and sustainable solutions exist):
[...] The NLA Ltd.’s exploitation of outdated copyright laws to develop revenue streams will lead to the criminalisation of thousands, if not millions of regular search engine users, because under the new licence snippets (small extracts) will be considered sufficiently substantial to be copyright protected. Furthermore, headlines are to be considered copyright protected as well, meaning even reproducing film listings will be against the law. This sets an untenable and absurd precedent.
The government said last November that it will look into copyright laws to "make them fit for the internet age" as Prime Minister David Cameron put it.
Maybe this lobbying campaign can help that fitness programme.