Newspaper Licensing Agency suspends invoicing users of new 'link tax'

The Newspaper Licensing Agency said today it has suspended charging users of media monitoring services for access to news clippings until after the completion of a Copyright Tribunal brought against it by clippings firm, Meltwater.

Meltwater referred the NLA to the tribunal last month, claiming that it was trying to impose a ‘link tax” by forcing online news clippings agencies to pay for providing links to newspaper stories.

The new licensing agreement and the charging structure came into force on 1 January with clippings agencies and aggregators expected to pay a fee alongside additional fees charged for each end-user of their services.

The NLA said today that it had written to the end users of paid-for newspaper web monitoring services to inform them that its new web licences had come into operation but unlike the monitoring companies they would not be expected to pay the fees for this service.

It wrote: ‘As a result of a referral by Meltwater News to the Copyright Tribunal, the NLA has decided to suspend invoicing for these licences pending the outcome of the Copyright Tribunal process.”

David Pugh, managing director of the NLA, said: ‘We are confident that the Copyright Tribunal will recognise our web licensing scheme is measured and reasonable.

‘But we do not want any licensed users of newspaper web monitoring to be disadvantaged by Meltwater’s action. Clients of all monitoring agencies should be on a level playing field.

‘We have therefore decided not to invoice clients for their web licence until the Copyright Tribunal process is complete.”

The NLA had previously claimed the move toward charging will regulate companies that profit from selling links, stating: ‘This is not about links: it is about profiting from someone else’s intellectual property without paying your fair share of the cost.”

The NLA is owned by the eight national newspaper publishing houses and generates revenues for 1,300 national and regional publishers through licensing use of their content by press cuttings agencies and their client companies.

The NLA said today the ‘vast majority’of press cuttings agencies and aggregating services had agreed to the new licensing structure and that Meltwater, a Norwegian company, was an exception.

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