Meltwater: Ruling has big implications for UK internet

Today’s High Court judgment protecting the copyright on links to newspaper stories published online will have ‘dramatic implications for the entire internet ecosystem in the UK”.

This was the warning issued by CEO of media monitoring company Meltwater Jorn Lyseggen which today lost the first round of a legal battle with the Newspaper Licensing Agency.

The High Court today ruled in favour of the NLA and a coalition of national newspaper groups in a case which stemmed from the NLA’s decision to levy a £10,000 charge on those who sell-on aggregated links and summaries from newspaper websites.

Meltwater – which is a sort of high-tech press cuttings agency – is expected to appeal the decision and is also yet to fight a further legal battle on the same issue at the Copyright Tribunal.

Lyseggen said the judgment was ‘disappointing’but added: ‘It is important to stress that the material case is going to take place at the Copyright Tribunal. That’s where the NLA licensing claim is going to be decided – that’s been our main focus from the beginning and still is. The High Court ruling is an intermediate step in that process.”

He said: ‘Today’s ruling goes against the very fabric of the way the way the internet works today and will have dramatic implications for the entire internet ecosystem in the UK.”

Lyseggen said this ruling could be used against Google News and any other website which delivers material from other copyright protected news sources.

And he noted section 109 of today’s ruling which said: ‘A person making a copy of a webpage on his computer screen will not have a defence because he has been browsing. He must first show it was lawful for him to have made the copy.’

He said: ‘I am glad to see that people like David Cameron are looking at ways to perhaps take another look at our existing copyright law.”

Lysseggen added that his company has been selling aggregated news headlines to its customers since 2003, but was only asked to pay for £10,000 NLA Licence at the start of this year.

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