Copyright is in vogue

In the NLA’s view, copyright is critical to the fortunes of the creative industries and a focus on copyright law is likely to grow as creators wrestle with the opportunities and threats posed by the internet. This interesting piece just published by Niri Shan and Adam Rendle at Taylor Wessing highlights the fact that copyright licensing is receiving a lot of attention from the UK government and the EU – with more initiatives than summer rainfall.

Among other insightful observations in this overview of the landscape, they note that “…the question asked by policymakers appears to have changed from "What can we do for creators and their works?" to "What can creators and their works do for us?" Now read on…

David Pugh

Managing Director, NLA


How can we make international copyright licensing easier for clients?

Media monitoring agencies and their commercial clients are increasingly interested in international print and web content. We see significant demand for the major US titles we host on eClips (WSJ and International Herald Tribune), and our media Monitoring Organisation (MMO) partners underline the growing demand. Serving this requirement efficiently is a major challenge - getting rights and data from thousands of major news providers when the volume and value of use is relatively small is tough, and users expect the same service and terms they pay for UK newspapers.  NLA has invested heavily in this area for years. We are members of and exchange rights with licensing agencies in other countries, which allows us to licence access to hundreds of international newspapers.

NLA is also a founding member of - a specialist group we set up to try and help users get rights and access to international content. PDLN now has 25 members in 17 countries who are working on a program – PDLN Connect – which aims to simplify and standardise technical and licence terms for use of international content. There are significant technical, legal and commercial barriers to progress but we have already seen German, Austrian Swiss, Belgian and UK content made available through PDLN, and we expect more progress soon. NLA is now processing 15 major French titles in eClips for PDLN member CFC, and this should further accelerate international content linkages.

NLA has also invested in eClips International and eClips Ireland, with remixed versions of the UK content and terms for overseas media monitoring companies. These innovations have allowed hundreds of overseas users to access UK content more efficiently.

NLA feels that the way to improve international media monitoring for clients is for publishers and Media Monitoring Agencies to work together to create solutions: which is why PDLN hosted its first PDLN Connect Content Forum with major MMAs and their representative bodies AMEC and FIBEP in Dublin in June 2012. We plan to follow up with a London seminar for agencies this autumn.

There are no magic bullets for resolving international copying requirements, but a lot of hard work is going on. The NLA is committed to offering UK and international users 21st century solutions to content access – and hope to report on new, market-driven solutions in the coming months. 

Andrew Hughes

Commercial Director, NLA


Richard Hooper’s final report on the Digital Copyright Exchange

On Tuesday this week Richard Hooper and Ros Lynch published their long-anticipated report on the feasibility of a Digital Copyright Exchange.  The objectives of the Copyright Works report are supported by the Newspaper Licensing Agency - we agree with Hooper’s emphasis on the need for good metadata standards and ‘interoperability’ of databases to enable simpler licensing that will benefit both publishers and organisations using and sharing content for professional news monitoring.

 Since its formation the NLA has been in the business of simplifying access to content and improving data quality for the media monitoring industry.  Services provided by the NLA’s e-clips print and web database serving media monitoring companies have delivered efficiencies and improved timeliness and quality of cuttings for Media Monitoring Organisations and their clients.

 The obvious next step is to streamline cross border and cross repertoire licensing via a Digital Copyright – and ideally ‘Content’ - Exchange.   As a member of the Linked Content Coalition and the Press Database Licensing Network the NLA has already been working with the wider UK and international copyright industry to do just that - and ensure that businesses and consumers can enjoy copyrighted content quickly, simply and legally.

 As both Hooper and the Register note, a one size fits all database may seem a nice idea on paper but won’t necessarily work in practice.  More likely to succeed are a series of smaller, interoperable hubs - which is exactly what the NLA and Linked Content Coalition is working on. 

David Pugh

Managing Director, NLA 


Is the NLA a monopoly?

Many people assume – quite wrongly – that NLA has a monopoly of some kind on newspaper content licensing for aggregators and their clients. NLA does have exclusive rights to license paper copying, but as paper copying is now less than 10% of the total, its largely irrelevant to most media monitoring businesses. The world’s largest news aggregator by revenue – Factiva – has direct agreements with the publishers, as do Lexis-Nexis, Dialog, Proquest, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, NewsBank, NewspapersDirect, CityWebWatch and many others. Yahoo and MSN also pay for news services from UK newspapers, and a large number of free consumer services also carry NLA newspaper content. The publishers’ agreements typically allow the aggregator to contract directly with the client, on price and licence terms quite different from those offered by NLA. Most major UK newspapers will have licence or supply agreements with 15 or more aggregators. They also have syndication departments that are happy to deal direct with clients.

NLA also has a role for newspapers servicing their aggregator clients and tens of thousands of users of those services worldwide. We have been using our eClips database to deliver text to the major aggregators on behalf of most newspapers for several years. More recently eClips web – the web content extension – has also been used in the same way. NLA eClips creates timely  clean structured XML  files of newspaper content. Aggregators like the consistent format and early delivery, and newspapers see the efficiency of NLA acting as the central hub. It fits the NLA mission of improving quality and lowering costs by using better technology to link providers and users.

So next time someone says they have no choice but to deal with NLA, point them at the many other channels through which newspaper content flows to the market. We are happy to be regulated by the Copyright Tribunal, but we are no monopoly. The market options are diverse and users have choice. NLA welcome that.

Andrew Hughes

Commercial Director, NLA


Our new blog - and our new code

Welcome to the brand new Newspaper Licensing Agency blog. The NLA is normally in the business of licensing and distributing our publishers' content – but here we will be largely producing our own - as well as inviting others who are interested in our work and the issues it raises to blog here too.

We want to have our say, but we also want to hear what you think, so let us have comments on anything we say that interests, provokes or indeed outrages you - although we hope the dialogue will minimise the latter!

The key reason for starting the blog is that this has been a busy time for newpsaper licensing and the wider world of copyright generally - and there is a lot to talk about. The creative industries are an engine of the UK economy - UK newspapers generate £5bn in annual revenue. Copyright is critical both to the protection of that income and in enabling the generation of new revenue from the use of content - as we see in the media monitoring sector licensed by the NLA.

So let me start with a quick look back. In April we came to an amicable agreement with Meltwater, resolving a dispute over the online licensing of newspaper content by commercial aggregators and media monitoring firms. The Copyright Tribunal ruling ensures that PR professionals have clarity and certainty on the fees they can expect for copyrighted web content and allows all parties to move on.

Alongside other collecting societies from across the creative industries, we fed into the Hargreaves review of intellectual property, ensuring that the Government understands the challenges faced by the newspaper industry and the need for intellectual property safeguards. We are also looking to streamline licensing wherever possible and conducted a feasibility study on the Digital Copyright Exchange which we published in February 2012.

We also continue to support important projects for the education and not-for-profit sectors. We partner with the RNIB to produce Talking Newspapers , we fund The Journalism Diversity fund and Newspapers for Schools – you will hear more about these on the blog soon.

In the future we intend to use this blog as an information platform for all the work we are doing – and on occasion we’ll also use it to dispel some common myths about our work on behalf of newspapers and the journalists they employ.

But before we do that we need your views and the first thing we would welcome feedback on is our new code of conduct. You can see it here. This is something we have been working on over the last year, updating - and publishing for the first time - the internal standards we have been working to, but also comparing notes with other licensing agencies (such as the PRS for Music) and learning from best practice. We constantly strive to keep our customer satisfaction high and set the best possible standards of service, so if you are an NLA customer or stakeholder please follow the link and give your views.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

David Pugh

Managing Director, NLA

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