Victory in round one of Fleet Street’s legal battle with high-tech press cuttings company Meltwater looks to be good news for anyone who wants to protect the value of original online content.
The ruling states that the Newspaper Licensing Agency is right to charge Meltwater and others a fee of £10,000 for selling-on links and summaries of stories taken from newspaper websites to its paying clients.
The NLA is keen to emphasise that this judgment only applies to the niche B2B market of those who charge for aggregated content taken from newspaper websites. But it could well have implications for all those media businesses based on repackaging other people’s original content – from Google News downwards.
If you are making money by taking other people’s news headlines and intros, this judgment appears to say, the originator of that content deserves a slice of the action.
My understanding is that for the present the UK national newspaper players are happy with the traffic Google News drives to their free-to-air websites. But this judgment should strengthen the news industry’s hand if it decides to get tough with the aggregators in future (subject to the outcome of any appeal).