Headline: Accessible without cost = Free to use?

It’s not unusual for NLA media access to get a ‘huh?’(or indeed less polite) response from businesses when we ask: ‘do you have permission from the copyright owner to re-publish articles on your company’s website and social media pages?’

Because it’s so easy to do and because the content is often accessible without cost, you could be mistaken in believing you are free to use it.

In this blog post, I’ll attempt to clarify the position with respect to business use.

The basic principles are straightforward and there are three common forms of business use, which I cover in turn.

  1.  Re-publishing a complete article

Unless a publisher website provides permission in its terms of service, or you otherwise gain permission (via a licence) it is not legal to republish a complete work (e.g. an entire news article) that is protected by copyright.  Just because the content was accessible without cost, does not mean you are free to use it.

 If you want to copy an article on your business’s web and social media pages, you can obtain permission from the relevant publisher or licensing body representing them.  NLA represents 1430 news and 1406 magazine titles and grants permission to businesses for the re-use of anything from one article from a single publication (£154.00) to tens of articles from multiple publications. 

  1. Summarising the article and linking back to the original on the publishers website

As long as the summary and link are attributed correctly and they simply act as a sign-post to the original online article, your business does not need publisher permission, or a licence to do this.  However, be mindful that reproduction of even a few words from the article in the summary or link could constitute infringement.  To limit this risk you should not reproduce any part of the article.

  1. Re-using part of or quoting from an article

If you simply want to use an excerpt from the article, what’s the copyright position?

Even if the work is protected by copyright, there are certain circumstances under which you can use quotations without having to get the permission of the copyright owner – as set out in S30 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. The key points are that: (a) you can only quote as much as is required for the specific purpose; (b) you give sufficient acknowledgement to the source of the quotation; (c) the use of the quotation is fair dealing.   ‘Fair dealing’ is not a defined term so whether or not your use of a quotation falls under the exception is subjective.  If in doubt as to whether the exception applies to your use, then please seek advice from our licensing team or consult your company lawyer.

In short, if your business wants to re-use someone else property it’s both polite and legally prudent to get permission!

Further independent advice can also be found on the Intellectual Property Office website


Copyright Infringement - a Wider View

Last week NLA media access hosted an industry roundtable looking at how the creative industries are fighting the rising tide of online copyright infringement. Following that, we felt it would be useful to share our experiences in a bit more detail.

What’s the scale of the problem for newspaper publishers?

In a typical week, over 13,000 articles from 5 major UK newspapers are cut and copied into other sites. These are often professionally-run sites supported by advertising and ecommerce services. One site alone took 488 articles in one week.

Who copies newspaper content?

NLA has established that the majority of sites infringing copyright were news and sport sites. Specialist sector, travel and tourism, academic, entertainment, blog/forum, independent/non-commercial sites were also infringing although at a lower volume.

We have also found that focusing on one nominally located domain type (e.g. ‘.uk’) fails to capture the whole problem. Of the 100 sites we recently reviewed that were infringing UK content, only 16 % were ‘.UK’ domains, 67% ‘.com’ and the remaining 17% other types (e.g. ‘.org’, ‘.net’ etc.).

What protections do publishers currently have?

In addition to brokering a deal in infringement between ISPs and the film industry, the UK government has funded a police unit (PICPU) to track and enforce copyright. The EC is also looking to provide support for anti-piracy initiatives. The creative industries have direct initiatives including the Publishers Association Copyright Infringement Portal and the long established PAFCT programme amongst many others.

Our response – OATS

NLA has developed a copyright infringement management service for publishers, which we call OATS (Online Article Tracking System). OATS uses web search technology to identify where newspaper articles are republished online, wrapped in a managed service where NLA also acts to enforce publisher rights on behalf of newspapers.

At the first stage sites identified as re-using content from the publishers are encouraged to link legitimately or to seek a licence from the content owner. If there is no response to the initial approach cease and desist letters are sent where appropriate.

More information on OATS can be read here

Why publishers invest in OATS

Direct returns from copyright infringement monitoring may be limited but publishers who invest in content realise compliance is necessary to protect their business. There is also a ‘hygiene’ benefit, letting the market know the owner is watching their activity and encouraging legitimate use.

At a wider level simply knowing what is happening to content on the web creates insights that allow publishers to better target compliance efforts.

Our success to date

A year on from the launch of OATS, it is already proving a valuable resource. Five national newspaper publishers are now paying NLA to identify and manage communication with infringing websites on their behalf, saving both time and resource.

To date, NLA has contacted in excess of 500 domains with a 75% success rate of removal of infringed content.

Industry response

Sophie Hanbury – Content Partnership Director, The Telegraph

“Working with OATS reiterates The Telegraph's commitment to protecting the copyright of our valuable news content whilst reinforcing a consistent strategic approach to our metered digital products and paid services. OATS has been highly effective in the drive to police large-scale systematic infringements and works in tandem with our Legal and Syndication teams to reassure our commercial partners that the contracted products and services they pay for are valuable, of a high quality and worth protecting.”

Helen Wilson – Content Sales Manager, Syndication, The Guardian

“Using OATS has enabled Guardian News & Media Ltd to contact a much higher number of sites who are currently misusing our content online. The weekly report provides rich metadata as to the type of site misusing content, the type of content which they are taking, in addition to the frequency of the misuse. Being a member of OATS has significantly reduced the time spent by the Sales team contacting copyright infringers, enabling them to focus their energies on new sources of revenue generation.”

More information

For more information on NLAs work with OATS, please contact George Shepherd at or 0207 332 9367


Monitoring News Content on the Web - NLA Media Access Seminars

As part of NLA’s client services team I spend most of my working hours helping media monitoring and evaluation organisations get full value from their NLA licences. Web content is a growing focus of our work, and we are often asked by clients how NLA can help businesses work with web content. NLA media access acts as a bridge between the media and the industry, providing rights and unique behind paywall data to allow them to serve clients.

Over the next two months as part of a continued attempt to simplify and discuss content provision in a rapidly changing market, NLA will be running a series of free seminars aimed at keeping media monitoring organisations informed on important recent developments in the complex area of web licensing and how client requirements can be met.  The program is listed below and all are welcome. I hope you can join us.

Nick Shackleford

Session 1 (February 17th, 9:30am):

What are the Rules for you and your clients?

The long running NLA – Meltwater case finally came to a conclusion in December, with the UK Supreme Court confirming the European ruling about use of website content. The ECJ also ruled on the Retriever case, and Julia Reda MEP (Pirate Party) has also offered her suggestions on copyright reform. Businesses offering services that include web content need to know what this means for their product, services and customers.  NLA media access are offering a free seminar briefing to explain what’s changed to help web monitoring providers understand the new rules, ensure they are licensed and not exposed.

Session 2 (March 17th, 9:30am):

Telling Your Clients Who Their Coverage Has Reached

Helping clients understand the impact of articles they have been mentioned in has always been hard. The Advertising Value Equivalent approach is discredited, but widely used because of the lack of alternatives. NLA is now helping media evaluation companies build more complete and accurate impact measures by releasing daily page view count from publishers, monthly browsers, daily republishing and hourly tweets and retweets will help brand owners respond appropriately to brand mentions. NLA will demonstrate how this key data can be accessed quickly and easily.

Charlie Hull of Flax (the UK based search specialists who developed NLA's Clipshare search engine) will give a description of their recent project for Infomedia in Denmark, where they have built a powerful, accurate and highly scalable article monitoring and search system based entirely on open source software.

Session 3 (April 14th, 9:30am):

How to give your Clients Paywall Content

With growing numbers of newspaper and magazine websites going behind a paywall, media monitoring and evaluation faces growing hurdles. How can you get and supply ‘paywalled’ content such as News UK and Telegraph publications? As part of this session, NLA will present eClips Web, a service which takes data directly from newspapers’ production systems, allowing faster and more accurate coverage of what was published. This allows subscribing media monitoring companies and their professional users seamless access to pay-walled material.

The sessions will be held at the NLA offices, located at 16-18 New Bridge Street in Blackfriars. Please let us know if you would like to attend, and we would be very happy to brief you in person if the dates are not convenient.



2014 Special Contributors Survey

To facilitate NLA media access licensing, publishers grant rights to license the copying of all content in their newspapers and websites.

Because of the demands of multi-platform publishing, most publishers have developed rights management processes which clear the rights necessary for the purposes of NLA licences at the point of commission. But for those publishers that cannot confirm that they have cleared all necessary rights beyond the rights for initial publication, or who choose to be verified, NLA media access operates a survey to calculate what portion of their NLA licensing revenue is due to  freelance contributors or agencies: “The Special Contributors’ Scheme”. 

The results of the latest survey are published today.


Coverage of CES: Which gadgets and technology brands made the most impact?

From driverless cars to smart watches, autonmous flying drones and wifi enabled washing machines, the avalanche of products which came out of the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last month was bewildering. For any PR manager planning a product launch  measuring the impact of coverage can be particularly tricky given the number of brands jostling for space.

One thing PR teams traditionally do, other than gathering clippings from their media monitoring service, is collate  either tweet counts or ‘twitter reach’, a measure of the total number of times the article has been shared on a social media platform.

The new article impact measurement (AIM) tool launched by NLA media access lets you go much further, reviewing both publisher page view data and Twitter reach in the same place. For the first time, this allows brands to know whether that twitter buzz translated into deeper engagement in terms of page views on a national newspaper website.

To demonstrate, we took a look at 40 articles across five national newspaper publishers participating in AIM; the Guardian, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Times.

First we take a look at online article readership, in order of popularity:


The top 5 sampled articles were:

As you can see, the trial of self driving cars really caught people’s attention, although perhaps for the wrong reasons as people were ‘horrified’ at the idea according to a survey covered in The Independent.  The showbiz news around Beats audio was also popular, showing both the value and pitfalls of celebrity brand associations.  Many stories about individual product launches were less popular, although a few such as Intel Sony and Sharp did manage cut through.

Top tweeted articles showed some correlation with most viewed, as you would expect. Also in the top three was the brutally honest ‘people are narcissists’ headline quoting founder of virtual reality company Oculus VR.  No doubt here as to the benefits of a snappy soundbite to encourage social sharing.

From this sample at least, Intel looked to be edging it in terms of PR impact amongst brand coverage.  The company and its products featured in all of the most popular round-up articles as well as landing a popular feature piece on their drone technology in the Telegraph.

If you are interested to find out more about how your organisation could benefit from AIM, NLA media access’ new media monitoring tool, please contact