European court ruling on browsing the web – an update

It is now three months since the Court of Justice of the European Union announced its ‘temporary copying’ decision in the long running web licensing case between NLA and Meltwater.

The cries of ‘won’ and ‘lost’ over the narrow point of ‘temporary copying’ are confusing – and a number of our clients have asked for clarification about NLA licensing of web publications.  The key point, which was not under review by the CJEU, is that web published content continues to have copyright protection and commercial use must be paid for.  As decided by the High Court and upheld in the Court of Appeal, headlines and snippets of text can attract copyright protection and their use for commercial purposes requires a licence. As a result, publishers and journalists get a fair return for the content they create if it is used by others in paid-for monitoring services.   

So what was the case about? There is a concise (and independent) summary on the Lexology web site.

From the perspective of NLA licence-holders: what has changed – and what has not? 

Starting with what has not changed, the decision only applies to browsing of web sites; it does not legitimise printing out or downloading works without the permission of copyright owners.  The 2012 Court of Appeal ruling on these points was not challenged, so organisations still require a licence for commercially exploiting web published content in these ways. 

Secondly, as stated, headlines and snippets, (integral to paid-for media monitoring services) continue to attract copyright protection. So any paid-for monitoring service sending e-mail summaries of media coverage also need a licence to provide the service to their clients.

This means that there is no change to the licensing of current services received by clients of media monitoring agencies.  NLA media access customers who have a Web End User Licence will need to retain one.

Turning to what could change, there may be new services developing that will not require an end-user licence, but those are for monitoring agencies to define. NLA media access is ready to create appropriate licences for them, depending on what use of publishers’ content they might propose. We have indicated to service providers and relevant representative bodies that we are open to dialogue on any new services that might take advantage of the CJEU ruling, when they are ready to discuss them.



Where the money goes – NLA infographic outlines what the company does with the revenues it collects

One of the first questions people often ask when speaking to NLA media access staff for the first time is ‘where does your money go?’

The answer is – back to the publishers who employ the journalists creating the content!

In 2013 alone NLA media access collected and distributed over £26m in royalty payments to publishers; a figure that has grown year on year as demand for publisher content has increased.   Who we collect it from and how it helps the industry is outlined in the NLA infographic, published today.

This year, we are on track to deliver a further £25m+ in payments to publishers. National and regional newspaper groups continue to be well served by NLA and, in 2014, over £2.5m of royalties will be paid to magazine publishers, successfully represented by NLA for the first time.

Our money also goes on investing in databases.  As you will see from the infographic, NLA supplies daily and online news to 13 UK and 18 international media monitoring agencies and provides 7000 UK journalists with online access to a comprehensive database of news articles from 2006 to present day.  Around 20% of the revenue NLA media access collects each year goes into investment in new database services and covers operating costs, with the bulk (80%) of the company’s revenue paid directly to represented publishers.

This formula of investment in news services and efficient and regular royalty payments to publishers means an effective service for all; it also ensures the vast majority of the money collected goes back to the content creators  - newspaper and magazine publishers.


Wise words from Lord Grade

House of Lords, 29 July

Extract from the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014 debate

Col. 1571: Lord Grade of Yarmouth (Con): What has been unleashed is a global army of parasites who live off the investment that creative people have made in the UK and throughout the world. I publicly described Google as a parasite. I was picked up by one of its leaders, who asked: “Why did you describe us as parasites?”. I said, “Last week you used a clip of Susan Boyle on ‘Britain’s got Talent’ and had 300 million hits on YouTube. That piece of material cost us a great deal of money, you did not ask permission, and you put it out there to promote YouTube and Google’s fortunes”. He replied, “Well, if you had called us, we would have taken it down”. I replied, “If I go to Harrods and steal a Cartier watch; if they ring me up and say ‘Can we have it back?’, and I give it back it is not shoplifting”. What the Government have failed to understand throughout their deliberations on copyright since the Hargreaves report is that there is a direct correlation between investment and the investor’s ability to control and police its copyright, and to protect that investment to ensure that it gets value for it.

The Government seem to think in all the deliberations that I have heard, read and seen that there should be a free for all, that everything should be made free for the public and that there is a public interest in everything being made available as easily and freely as possible. Yes, there is a public interest in that but it will last about five years because in the end there will be no more investment in original content.

Throughout the creative industries, particularly the film, television and games industries, people are struggling to avoid piracy, and struggling to get value for the risk investment that they have made in the content. Since that wretched Hargreaves report, I have heard nothing from the Government to suggest that they understand that there is a public interest in continued investment in the creative industries.

Today’s Motion is yet another step forward in liberalising the copyright laws and chipping away at one of the great success stories. On the one hand, this Government have been tremendous at supporting the creative industries. I myself, as chairman of Pinewood Studios, have been a beneficiary of that, so I should declare an interest. But at the same time the Government are demonstrating a complete ignorance of the economics of investment in the creative industries. Today’s Motion is yet another example. It is time they tore up the Hargreaves report and listened to the people who make the investments. Then we might get some serious deregulation and some serious thinking about how we can modernise the copyright laws. But if this continues, I have to tell the Government that they are putting the creative industries at risk. 


Reshuffles and IP ministers

Another reshuffle, another IP minister; last week the Government announced it would appoint Baroness Neville Rolfe as the BIS minister responsible for IP and copyright, replacing predecessor Viscount Younger of Leckie. 

Baroness Neville Rolfe is undoubtedly an experienced operator with an impressive career spanning politics and business.  But, the continuing change in post does create a bit of a disconnect and uncertainty for those of us in the business of protecting the rights of creators.

The Register’s Andrew Orlowski neatly outlines some of the challenges that the new IP minister will face and points out that we have now had four IP ministers in less than two years.   If you go further back in time the figure reaches a total of seven IP ministers in seven years.

Despite all this, it is of course good news that the Government continues to take IP seriously enough to have a responsible minister for the brief.   We hope that Baroness Neville Rolfe will take a long hard look at whether statutory instruments, a fast track method of altering copyright exceptions with limited parliamentary scrutiny, is wise given the sometimes unintended impact even small changes to copyright exceptions can have on the UK creative industries.


NLA and ideas

New ideas are essential to progress, and increasingly publishers are working together to share ideas that help us all adjust to the new digital publishing environment. NLA,  – representing thousands of publishers at both rights and data levels - is perfectly placed to help address the common challenges and opportunities that  have arisen. Feedback on the growing areas of NLA activity offers learnings that can help publishers decide what works and what doesn’t, and where to draw the line between direct and collective management.

NLA uses informal and small seminars as our preferred discussion environment, with publishers presenting to publishers on their experiences. So far this year we have sponsored four seminars with PPA, covering use of publisher content on corporate websites; copyright infringement; rights management; and content delivery services.  Turnout has been strong, involving representatives from a wide range of publishers from niche B2B titles to mass market consumer magazines.

Highlights have included;

Robert Hahn, Guardian, describing their innovative, class leading contributor rights management processes. Including how they managed to standardise their contributor terms and conditions to protect themselves against current licensing scenarios as well as future, as yet undefined, digital products.

Sophie Hanbury, Telegraph, discussing how their use of NLA copyright infringement tracking has cut online piracy and supported syndication, while helping to protect the value of their brand.

Fergus McKenna, Trinity Mirror, on use of content delivery technology to cut costs, extend content reach and increase revenues.

Presentations are either publically available from our site http://nlaroyalties.co.uk/blog/ or from NLA at royalties@nla.co.uk 

George Shepherd. NLA Publisher Relations Manager