Today the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled in favour of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) and Meltwater in their five-year battle with the UK’s Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). The CJEU has quite sensibly ruled that browsing and viewing articles online does not require authorisation from the copyright holder.
This is a victory for common sense and the CJEU ruling is another great example of why the UK is better off in Europe than out.
“We are utterly delighted that the CJEU has accepted all of our arguments against the NLA, which represents eight national newspapers,” said PRCA director-general Francis Ingham. “The Court of Justice, like the Supreme Court before them, understands that the NLA’s attempts to charge for reading online content do not just affect the PR world, but the fundamental rights of all EU citizens to browse the internet. This is a huge step in the right direction for the courts as they seek ways to deal with the thorny issues of internet use and copyright law.”
Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater, said: “We are pleased that the European Court of Justice has stepped in to set an important precedent for Internet freedom across the European Union. This ruling serves the interests of business, technology and millions of Internet users and ensures protection from being accused of copyright infringement. Meltwater is a strong believer in copyright and a strong supporter of a sustainable, independent press. However, we are pleased that the Court has interpreted the copyright law in a way that allows citizens to use the Internet without fear of unintentional infringement.”
Hopefully this helps sound the death knell of the NLA, an archaic organisation that masquerades as an official institution, but is in reality a privately-owned limited company set-up by newspaper publishers such as the Rupert Murdoch owned News UK (previously News International). The NLA grabs about £22m a year from the communications industry, much of which comes from charities, central government and local government. That the NLA charges local government is particularly disgusting as newspapers have now cut back so much on reporting local government that they would find it impossible to cover local government issues if it wasn’t for the hard-working PR and corporate communications staff on local councils.
A very happy sounding Francis Ingham at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg: