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The Newspaper Licensing Agency Limited ("NLA") (see note 1) has recently released to the market its proposed "Commercial End User Licence" (the "Licence"). The signatories to this statement are of the view that the NLA has absolutely no legal basis for demanding that people sign up to this Licence and that the Licence is nothing more than a blatant and unjustified attempt to tax the Internet.

The NLA asserts that companies receiving alert services from online media monitoring services ("End Users") require a licence in order to receive those services legally. The Licence envisages End Users paying annual fees of up to £33,474 or 7.5p per hyperlink received for the "right" to receive alert services.

While the signatories respect and value the investment made by the NLA's members ("Publishers") in creating content, the mere receipt of a hyperlink by an End User is not an act which gives the Publishers any rights in English copyright law. The act of clicking on a hyperlink is similarly not an act which copyright law entitles Publishers to restrict. Receiving and clicking on a hyperlink is no different to being sent an address or telephone number and going there or making a call. Indeed, the Licence imposes a charge on End Users even if a link is not clicked-on and the Publishers' content is never seen by the End User.

End Users use the hyperlinks sent to them to access and read content on the Publishers' own publicly-available websites. They see the advertisements served by the Publishers against that content and pay such subscription fees as charged by the Publishers for viewing content on their websites. End Users could just as easily access that content by searching for it using a search engine or going direct to the Publishers' websites. There is no legal distinction between any of these means of accessing and reading content on Publisher websites.

Publishers suffer no harm from the fact that End Users find out about the content via an alert service. In fact, Publishers directly benefit from the traffic that alert services drive to their websites. If and how Publishers choose to monetise that traffic once it arrives is a matter for them.

The Licence represents an unjustified attempt by the NLA to tax the Internet. It seeks to extend Publisher copyright beyond the limits of the protection that the law has granted to them, which, if allowed to succeed, would be to the detriment of both End Users and the Publishers themselves. The signatories therefore call on the NLA to stop this legally baseless attempt to assert their copyright.

21 August 2009

Signatories (see note 2)

Meltwater News (
For press enquiries contact:
Jørn Lyseggen
(T) +1 415-829-5918

New Media Intelligence (
For press enquiries contact:
Tim Houghton
Managing Director
(T) 0207 099 5945

NewsNow (
For press enquiries contact:
Struan Bartlett
Managing Director
(T) 0845 838 8890

Public Relations Consultants Association (
For press enquiries contact:
Francis Ingham
Director General
(T) 020 7233 6026

Updatum (
For press enquiries contact:
Morten Rynning
(T) 01623 600838

Note 1: The NLA represents the vast majority of UK newspaper publishers ("Publishers"). The NLA has mandate from those Publishers to license certain uses of their content collectively.

Note 2: The signatories include pure online media monitoring service providers, those that provide both online media monitoring and traditional press clipping services and PR agencies. The signatories are part of an ad hoc group formed in response to the NLA's issuing of the Licence. The signatories call for the correct application of copyright and other laws to the online media monitoring space, but this is without prejudice to each signatory's independent choice of commercial and licensing strategy.

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