The Government’s uncomfortable relationship with Copyright

The report released this week by the All Party IP Group in parliament probably made for uncomfortable reading in some quarters of Whitehall.   It cast a light on the role of Government in protecting and promoting IP - and had some harsh words for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The group of MPs, led by John Whittingdale the influential Chairman of the DCMS select committee, suggests the IPO has lost the confidence of a significant number of its stakeholders and outlines a number of recommendations necessary to restoring trust:

1. The IP Minister should take on the role of being a champion of IP, supported by a small
team in the IPO, or within BIS
2. The IPO should revert to seeing IP as a property right
3. The Government should be as concerned to promote the creation of new IP, as how
existing IP is accessed
4. Ministers in BIS and their senior officials need to have greater oversight of the IPO
5. The IPO’s oversight of copyright policy should be moved to DCMS
6. Senior officials and Ministers at BIS should take a greater role in ensuring other
Government departments consult them when developing policies affecting IP

Here at the NLA we welcome many of these recommendations – especially the emphasis on the ‘P’ in IP as a property right. We certainly share the concern of other rights holders at the tone and direction of the IPO consultation published back in December 2011.  This consultation, Implementing the Hargreaves review, and accompanying impact assessment were widely thought to be ill judged – and based on little in the way of unbiased evidence.

The existing system of copyright licensing provides a fair and accessible means to acquire rights and collecting societies are constantly innovating to address the challenges brought by the digital age.  Within the realm of newspaper copyright the NLA has developed, and will continue to develop, a suite of licences and database services to meet the developments and changes in its marketplace.

We are keen to work with Government and stakeholders to ensure the right balance is struck between protecting the creators and end users. 

Things do seem to be moving in the right direction.  The IPO has been undertaking some useful research such as this report; which shows the true value of copyright to UK plc is far higher than original estimates!

David Pugh

Managing Director, NLA


What is a 'temporary copy' and who cares? Dominic Young - former chairman of the NLA

Dominic Young is a fomer Chairman of the NLA, is now an entrepreneur and also blogs at The views expressed in this article are his personal views.

Recently, perhaps due to age or perhaps due to the pace of change, I have heard people talk authoritatively about things I personally was involved with, and getting it completely wrong.

One such thing is 'temporary copies'.  This is a concept which exists in copyright law making certain kinds of copying legal even when there is no explicit licence, which featured in the NLA's web licensing case with Meltwater.  The claim that the legal exception for temporary copies covers paid-for media monitoring was rejected by the courts - and some people are outraged.  Browsing has been rendered illegal they say. The internet will break if the law stands.

Of course it is fine to say that you think the law is wrong and should be changed - and equally fine for people like me to disagree.  But to say that the law will destroy the internet is, aside from being self- evidently untrue, also a rather dishonest way of trying to post-rationalise poor business and legal judgments of the past... read on at Dominic Young's Copyright Blog.


What is the value of copyright to UK plc?

Hot on the heels of our £100k donation to the Journalism Diversity Fund the Newspaper Licensing Agency is supporting another educational endeavour.

We are sponsoring a studentship at University College London to investigate the value of copyright to the creative industries in the digital age. Many content owners have been baffled by some of the calculations emerging from government enquiries in the last couple of years, claiming that exceptions to copyright will somehow stimulate a high-tech economy and end the recession!  The most recent study from the IPO suggested that as far back as 2009 the value of copyright to the UK economy was £5.1bn, which was a huge increase on their previous estimate of £1.8bn, which by all accounts left many forms of copyright wealth creation out of the equation.  

With that in mind the NLA is joining together with the Stationers' Foundation, Pearson plc, the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) and Euromonitor plc to bring some academic rigour to the debate.  For more details, see this piece in the 1709 Blog. The studentship is expected to begin on 1 January 2013.  For those seeking further details of the project, contact Professor Stevenson (

David Pugh

Managing Director, NLA


What’s in print newspapers is not always on the web.

A study carried out by the NLA has found that the majority of content on regional newspaper websites is unique to the web and not a copy of print. Any business monitoring the newspaper media may miss vital mentions of their brand if they focus on only one medium. 

The study focused on seven titles including The Economist, Belfast Telegraph, and Birmingham Post. The NLA searched the eClips Web database and eClips print (via ClipShare) over a two week period to find any articles matching 12 keywords including ‘Barclays’,  ‘Manchester United’ , ‘G4S’, ‘Samsung’ and ‘BMW’. This created a random sample of 1093 articles from the combined sources which was then matched by headline, and/or body text where articles looked similar.

Surprisingly, 89% of content was found to be unique to either the print newspaper or website. Clearly with only 11% of articles found in both print and online, newspapers do not simply publish a copy of the printed content on their websites. In fact, 64% of the articles were unique to the website and not found in print.

Here is what the numbers look like for each title:

  print only web only shared % unique to either
Economist 5 4 13 41
Belfast Telegraph 75 226 43 88
The Argus 51 140 4 98
Northern Echo 44 143 30 86
Press and Journal 85 4 8 91
Birmingham Post 11 163 12 94
Evening Express 22 0 10 68


All of the articles unique to the website fell in to one of four categories:

1. Articles from a wire service such as Press Association. These usually appear in the ‘National News’ sections, plus ‘Sport’ and occasionally ‘Entertainment’.
2. Articles from a blog, or opinion column. Examples are the Schumpeter blog on The Economist, and Mark Steel’s column on Belfast Telegraph.
3. Articles from a breaking news section. Examples include the ‘Offbeat’ section of The Belfast Telegraph.
4. Articles appearing on a subscription portal. For example, paywall content on the Press and Journal Energy website.
The NLA plans to carry out further analysis of entire regional publisher portfolios, in addition to the nationals - so watch this space to find out if these trends are repeated for all titles and publishers.

About eClips Web
eClips Web is a database of publisher controlled website content, based on direct feeds from the newspaper web CMS (Content Management Systems).

eClips Web feeds supplied by the NLA are used by media monitoring companies and their end user clients as an alternative to scraping. Businesses can track what is being written about their company brand, products or services on multiple newspaper websites simultaneously and in near to real-time, from a fully managed and licensed web feed.

eClips Web allows monitoring of sites such as The Times and The Sun which cannot be scraped due to licence restrictions, login or paywalls.

Carie Lowther

Business Development Manager, NLA


Newspaper Licensing Agency makes major donation to Journalism Diversity Fund

The NLA yesterday donated £100,000 to the Journalism Diversity Fund, bringing its total support for the bursary scheme to over three quarters of a million pounds.

The Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) was set up by the newspaper industry to support the training of journalists from ethnically and socially diverse backgrounds. 

The NLA is the JDF’s biggest supporter, and has been donating to it since its launch in 2005.

In 2011-2012 the scheme supported 19 students from diverse backgrounds who would not otherwise have had the financial means to support themselves on a NCTJ-accredited course.  Since its creation the JDF has provided bursaries for over 100 aspiring journalists. More

David Pugh

Managing Director, NLA