Protecting local newspaper content online

This year is the 20th anniversary of Local Newspaper Week, a celebration of the work done by local outlets and journalists in creating trusted and quality news that supports local communities.

In the past 20 years there has been a shift in how news is consumed, with more and more people turning to social media and online platforms to receive their news.

With this change to digital comes copyright threats in the online sphere as well as copycat websites that adjust the content, contributing to the rise in fake news. As a YouGov poll found earlier this year, local papers are considered the most credible source of regional news, ahead of local TV and radio (trusted by 73 per cent), and search engines (43 per cent). In order to maintain this trust, there is a behind-the-scenes battle to find and take down content that has been republished without permission, credit or copyright. Over just one week, approximately 2,700 articles from our publisher partners are cut and copied onto other sites. Furthermore, these sites then sell advertising space and make money from the pirated content.

Three years ago, NLA created our Online Article Tracking System (OATS) which searches and detects these instances of copyright abuse across vast quantities of online article data. OATS can analyse every article that’s produced by an online newspaper in the last two months, and then find cases of where these articles have been copied by a particular domain. To do this manually would take days of work. As well as this, using OATS also makes reporting and removing pirated content a faster process.

OATS detects and deals with a variety of copyright abuses which range from parts-of, to full articles, as well as photographs or captions that have been copied and posted without permission. The most common types of copyright abuse are:

  • Copying / lifting text from an online article and adding a credit to the name of the original publisher. This usually occurs because there is an ignorance around copyright law and terms and conditions. In our experience, once you notify the infringing domain, they remove the content.
  • Copying / lifting parts of (or all of) the text from an online article and not adding credit / linking to the original publisher. These sites tend to design the layout to look as though it's their own original work by their own reporters.
  • Occasionally, websites that replicate a major news site in terms of design and URL. Sometimes the content is kept the same however content can be changed, often altering it slightly which gives the article a new tone or message. These instances of slightly-altered content contribute to the issue of fake news.

In most instances, we contact the domain hosting the copyrighted content directly, inform them that they are in breach of copyright and ask them to remove the content. This process reduces the chance of the same person and/or domain repeating the offence. However, if after multiple attempts we're unable to contact the owner of the domain, we contact the domain hosting provider and issue a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to remove the content.

Three years on, OATS is becoming a vital tool for both national and regional publishers to identify and communicate with the websites infringing on copyright. In 2016, we removed a total of 95,076 articles from 679 domains with a 79.98% success rate.  In 2017, these numbers grew even further with 98,643 articles removed from 867 domains with a 91.8% success rate.

Chris Lukins, OATS Manager at NLA media access comments “OATS has fast become an important tool for publishers, both national and regional, especially with the rise of fake news. Our success rate continues to increase year-on-year and in 2018, we will continue the fight for real news and support real journalism.”

Michael Pocock, Director of Content Partnerships, at ESI Media (whose portfolio includes The Independent, Evening Standard and ES Magazine), said of working with NLA media access: “NLA discovered and removed over 13,000 individual articles that had been lifted from The Independent and Evening Standard websites across 2017 and republished on over 100 infringing websites without our permission. OATS has been a great resource for identifying these illegal usages and provides a solution that allows multiple publishers to efficiently and proactively address such copyright infringement without the extensive resource that would be necessary to cater for that individually.”  


Celebrating diversity in journalism on International Women’s Day

Andrew Hughes, International Director of NLA media access presenting Joanne Butcher, Chief Executive of the NCTJ with a cheque for £100,000 at the annual Journalism Diversity Fund celebratory event.

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) and looking back across the events that unfolded over the past year, it’s more significant than ever. Since last year’s IWD, we’ve seen women’s marches across the globe, the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo & #TimesUp movements unfold, gender pay gap reporting and the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote.

Gender equality is part of a wider issue; businesses are not as diverse as they need to be. Many studies have shown that diverse groups of people have a higher group intellect and are more profitable for businesses. In journalism, diversity allows an outlet to reduce bias, as well as bring together a group of people with varied backgrounds and experiences to be able to report on the huge variety of stories that happen every day. That is why we support the Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF), a bursary scheme which we have supported since the fund’s inception in 2005. Our last donation in was £100,000, bringing NLA’s total contribution to the fund to over £1.2 million.

The JDF was set up by the newspaper industry in 2005. The aim of the JDF is to create a route for aspiring journalists from ethnically and socially diverse backgrounds. The bursary supports them in their NCTJ Diploma in Journalism studies, recognised as the kite mark qualification in the industry which provides them with the solid foundation on which to enter  the newsroom and represent the diverse communities they report on. Along with major donations from NLA media access, the Journalism Diversity Fund is supported by Bloomberg, the BBC, DMG Media, Sky, the Press Association, the Financial Times, The Printing Charity, Thomson Reuters and Google News Lab.

Donations over the years have helped drive real change in the industry, supporting aspiring journalists from differing backgrounds. Since its launch, the Journalism Diversity Fund has awarded bursaries to 257 students, helping them start a career in journalism which many would not have found possible without the funding. This has increased the prevalence of journalists from a wide range of socially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.

One such example is Khaleda Rahman: currently working at the Daily Mail. She was awarded a JDF bursary in 2012 to complete her fast-track Diploma in Journalism with News Associates London. Commenting on her experience Khaleda said:

“Thanks to the funding I received from the Journalism Diversity Fund, I was able to get my NCTJ qualification without stressing about finances while studying. After qualifying, I worked as an intern for the JDF and helped other students working towards their NCTJ. Then, I got my foot in the door of the newspaper industry with an internship at a local newspaper that I secured thanks to the continued support I received from the JDF. From there, I went on to land a place on the MailOnline graduate scheme and have recently returned to London after stints in New York and Sydney. It’s safe to say I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if not for the JDF!

Andrew Hughes, International Director of NLA media access commented:

“NLA media access is owned by the UK press, and our mission is supporting journalism by ensuring businesses which rely on newspaper content can do so easily and legally. The board and staff of the NLA are proud of our association with the great work done by the NCTJ Journalism Diversity Fund, and especially with the recipients of the JDF bursaries.”

When accepting the donation, NCTJ Chief Executive, Joanne Butcher, stated:

“I’d like to sincerely thank NLA media access, the Journalism Diversity Fund’s lead sponsor. This generous donation, which has been made annually since 2005, is very welcome and never taken for granted.”

The deadline for the first round of 2018 applications for the Journalism Diversity Fund bursaries is on 25th April. For the full schedule, please click here.


Past, Present and Future


NLA's mission in supporting quality journalism has never been more important.  At a time when 'fake news' is rife and the threat to publishers of digital platforms such as Google and Facebook is only increasing, NLA is returning record-breaking royalties to publishers for their content. 

In 2017 we saw revenues increase to more than £43.8 million which meant the distribution to shareholders and publishers grew by 3.7%.  Our client base surpassed 10,000 licensees for the first time, and we provided more content to more media monitoring companies (MMOs) than ever before.

We also experienced significant growth in our international business, with six new agreements allowing companies abroad to re-use UK newspaper content legally and for UK companies to do the same with foreign news.

This was all achieved on a backdrop of internal company restructuring and innovation. NLA media access has acted as a conduit between publishers, MMOs and licensees for many years, however as both industries have evolved, so must we, and considerable effort was - and will continue to be - put into new products and services NLA can offer to enhance the respective organisations’ operations.

Whilst the fruits of much of our labour will be seen throughout this year (and beyond), we did launch eClips Web Specialist in late 2017, allowing participating MMOs uninterrupted and reliable access to 14 specialist paywalled websites, with many more in development.


Prime Minister announces review into the future of British press

On 6th February 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a review into the future of newspapers. Speaking in Manchester, the Prime Minister noted that the closure of titles was a “danger to our democracy”. She also highlighted that journalism is “a huge force for good”, but is under threat due to modern technology, falling circulations, and the closure of local papers.

In a press release issued by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, it was outlined that the review will examine the overall health of the news media, the range of news available and how the press is adapting to the new digital market.

The review will also focus on the local and regional press, the operation of the digital advertising supply chain, as well as ‘clickbait’ and low quality news.

Commenting on the news David Dinsmore, News Media Association (NMA) chairman, said, "The NMA welcomes this announcement on behalf of the national, regional and local news media industry. This review acknowledges the importance of journalism in a democratic society, the vital role that the press takes in holding the powerful to account and producing verified news which informs the public.

“Viable business models must be found that ensure a wide variety of media are able to have a long and healthy future. Through digital platforms, news content is more widely consumed than ever before but the revenues to sustain the investment in that quality content are challenged. This review on a sustainable future is very welcome.”

Henry Jones, Managing Director at NLA media access comments, “NLA media access provides an important source of revenue to hundreds of UK publishers and is committed to continuing to support quality journalism. We welcome the government’s announcement and believe more should be done to protect the future of our world-class national, regional and local news.

“With the increasing number of threats to journalism, from the rise of digital platforms challenging revenue streams, to the growing presence of fake news adding questions of authority and authenticity, now more than ever it is important to do what we can to support news publishers, so they can continue to uphold their role in society.”

Read more about how NLA media access supports journalism here.


NLA media access expands overseas content for licensees by growing portfolio with two international agreements

NLA media access has bolstered its range of international partnerships with the inclusion of both Poland and Australia to its portfolio of news content. This means that NLA licence holders now have access to, and the ability to share, significantly more content from across the globe.


January 2018 saw NLA media access partner with Copyright Agency (Australia) which allows licence holders access to leading Australian content from the likes of Australian Financial Review, The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald.

NLA has also extended the rights it grants Copyright Australia for UK content to include most Asia Pacific countries.


In late 2017, Polish news licensing body Repropol and NLA media access agreed an exchange of rights. This agreement allows both organisations to license each other’s content to their respective media monitoring clients and licensees creating an even more comprehensive solution.

Jan Ruranski, board member at Repropol, added: “Extending our licence coverage to include leading UK content will be welcomed by our users, and our publishers will benefit from NLA’s licensing of Polish content in the UK.  The new agreement demonstrates our commitment to licensing, and to working in partnership with the many established licensing bodies, both in Europe and further afield.”

2018 and beyond

Commenting on the two agreements, Andrew Hughes, International Director at NLA media access, noted:

“With the growth of a globalised media landscape, it’s our job to make sure our licensees can access the content they need.

“Ease of use is essential for everyone and these partnerships are further steps towards making copyright compliance easier for users of monitoring services. Our users in the UK and abroad have requested wider coverage and we are responding. This is a further significant extension of the NLA international content offering and we are confident the UK and international markets will welcome this development” 

With a mission to support journalism as well as provide the best possible service for media monitoring companies and clients, NLA media access will be announcing more agreements this year to further extend its service.

About NLA media access

NLA media access was first established in 1996 and protects the publishing industry's copyright through collective licensing.  Its role is to enable over 200,000 organisations, including media monitoring clients and licensees, to reproduce content from over 3,600 newspaper and magazine titles with permission. Since its creation, NLA’s portfolio has expanded and currently consists of thousands of titles, both online and in print. In 2016, the company returned £36m to publishers. NLA also offers several cost saving services for publishers, including Clipshare - a fully searchable archive of newspaper and magazine content dating back to 2006.